Forget China, the Future of Immigration to Canada Appears to be the Philippines

Meurrens LawImmigration Trends

When I tell people that I specialize in immigration law many people automatically assume that all of my clients must be Chinese.  This is because during the latter quarter of the twentieth century, and for most of the first decade of the twenty-first, China (including Hong Kong and Taiwan) was the number one source country of immigrants to Canada.  However, as I first noted two years ago, this is changing.

The Philippines has emerged as the dominant source country for immigrants to Canada.  I have witnessed this in my practice, and my anecdotal observations have been confirmed by recent Citizenship and Immigration Canada data.  The trend is clear: the future of immigration to Canada belongs to the Philippines.


The Filipino community does not have as long a tradition in Canada as does the Chinese and Indian populations.  Indeed, the first Filipino immigrants did not arrive in Canada until 1945.  Between 1946 and 1964, only 100 Filipinos immigrated to Canada.

However, in 1981, Canada introduced its first foreign domestic-worker program.  These caregivers could eventually apply for permanent residency and citizenship.  In 1992, this program was renamed the Live-In Caregiver Program.  Since its inception, the Live-in Caregiver Program has been predominantly represented by Filipino women.  As these women eventually brought their families to Canada, the Filipino community grew, and since 1996, the Philippines has been in the top 4 source countries of immigration to Canada.


As shown in the table below, starting in 2007, the number of Filipinos admitted as permanent residents to Canada soared.  Indeed, in 2010 and 2011 it was the top source country of immigrants, before China reclaimed the top spot in 2012 with 35,631 people from mainland China being admitted compared to 34,626 from the Philippines.  (These three countries accounted for roughly 38% of immigrants to Canada in 2012).

However, while China has reclaimed the top spot in 2012, that same year the number of Chinese citizens applying to immigrate to Canada continued to plummet.  In both 2010 and 2011, way more Filipinos applied for Canadian permanent residence than did Chinese or Indian nationals. Indeed, in 2012, the number of Filipinos who applied for permanent residency in Canada exceeded the number of Chinese by over 50% (31,696 vs. 20,027).

This trend is unlikely to change soon.  Both the Federal Immigrant Investor Program  and the Quebec Immigrant Investor Program remain closed.  Almost all of the federal economic programs require proficiency in English.  Changes to the Labour Market Opinion program will soon prohibit screening out candidates on the basis of a language other than English or French.  All of these factors favour the Filipino community.

The face of immigration to Canada is changing.  It will be interesting to see when the discourse begins to reflex this.