Canada’s Prairie provinces and the country’s three territories are the most likely to retain immigrants who come to settle there, a Statistics Canada report reveals.

In Emigration of Immigrants: Results from the Longitudinal Immigration Database, the demographic and statistical service agency’s Julien Bérard-Chagnon, Stacey Hallman, Marc-Antoine Dionne, Jackie Tang and Benoit St-Jean report that 82.5 per cent of immigrants to Canada remained in the country 20 years after first settling in Canada.

Those who do choose to leave Canada after immigrating here do so for a wide variety of reasons, including their job opportunities in Canada, their abilities to communicate in either French or English, their age upon arrival in the country, and what is happening back in their country of origin. Many emigrants leave Canada upon the death of a loved one in their home country.

But those that do choose to leave almost always do so within the first few years of immigrating to Canada.

“The probability of emigrating is that immigrants are much more likely to emigrate within the first few years after admission,” notes the report.

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“The annual probability of emigrating reaches the highest level from three to seven years after admission, and peaks at almost 1.4 per cent in the fourth and fifth years after admission. Thereafter, the annual probability of emigrating falls and holds steady at 0.6 to 0.7 per cent.

Women are slightly more likely to remain in Canada once they immigrate here, at 84.3 per cent, than men, at 80.4 per cent.

And the Prairie provinces are doing a better job of retaining those immigrants who settle there than anywhere else in the country.

The cumulative probability of immigrants remaining in Canada 20 years after their admission in the year from 1982 to 2017 was highest in Manitoba at 87.1 per cent, Alberta at 84.8 per cent, and Saskatchewan at 84.7 per cent, than in the rest of the provinces.

Nova Scotia had the lowest retention rate at only 73.4 per cent. Ontario, Canada’s economic engine, had a retention rate for immigrants after 20 years of 83.2 per cent. 

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Perhaps surprisingly, the relatively few immigrants who chose to settle in the three Canadian territories of the Yukon, Nunavut and the Northwest Territories were 84.6 per cent likely to choose to remain there after 20 years, giving that region of Canada one of the highest immigrant retention rates in the country.

Making the decision to leave Canada seems to have been easiest for those who are footloose and fancy-free, unencumbered by family obligations. 

Those immigrants who had no children were three times more likely to leave than those with children living at home. 

Single immigrants who had never married – and those who were divorced, separated or widowed – were also more likely to emigrate within 20 years of their arrival in Canada than married immigrants or those in common-law relationships.

“Having a family reduces the propensity to emigrate,” note the researchers. “In particular, married and common-law immigrants are less likely to emigrate. 

Families More Likely To Remain In Canada Than Single People Without Children

“The presence of children in the tax family relates closely to emigration. Nearly 40 per cent of immigrants who never had children in their tax family emigrated within two decades of admission compared with less than 13 per cent of those who already had children in their tax family. In contrast, single immigrants are much more likely to emigrate.”

Entrepreneurs and those who were more educated were also more likely to emigrate from Canada than those with less education and those holding down jobs.

Through its two-tier immigration system, Canada allows foreign nationals to gain their permanent residency through the federal Express Entry system’s Federal Skilled Worker (FSW) program, Federal Skilled Trades (FST) program and Canadian Experience Class (CEC), as well as the Provincial Nominee Programs (PNP) of the 10 Canadian provinces.

Under the Express Entry system, immigrants can apply for permanent residency online and their profiles then are ranked against each other according to a points-based system called the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS). The highest-ranked candidates will be considered for an Invitation to Apply (ITA) for permanent residence. Those receiving an ITA must quickly submit a full application and pay processing fees, within a delay of 90 days.

Through a network of  PNPs, almost all of Canada’s ten provinces and three territories can also nominate skilled worker candidates for admission to Canada when they have the specific skills required by local economies. Successful candidates who receive a provincial or territorial nomination can then apply for Canadian permanent residence through federal immigration authorities.

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