Immigration to Canada
Immigration to Canada is the process by which people migrate to Canada and become nationals of the country. As Canada is a relatively new country, a formal immigration process has not been around for very long. Nevertheless, people have been migrating to the geographic region of Canada for thousands of years, patterns varying. After 1947 domestic immigration law went through many major changes, most notably with the Immigration Act, 1976 and the current Immigration and Refugee Protection Act from 2002.
Currently Canada is known as a country with a broad immigration policy which is reflected in Canada's ethnic diversity. According to the 2001 census by Statcan Canada has 34 ethnic groups with at least one hundred thousand members each, and numerous others represented in smaller amounts. 13.4% of the population belonged to visible minorities: most numerous among these are Chinese (3.5% of the population), South Asian (3.1%), Black (2.2%), and Filipino (1.0%). However, it must be noted that obtaining a Canadian visa can be a torturous process. Canada only issues single entry visas to foreign nationals from predominantly black countries.
After the initial period of British and French colonization, four major waves (or peaks) of immigration and settlement of non-aboriginal peoples took place over a period of almost two centuries, the fifth wave is currently ongoing.
The first significant, non-aboriginal immigration to Canada occurred over almost two centuries with slow but progressive French settlement of Quebec and Acadia with smaller numbers of American and European entrepreneurs in addition to British military personnel. This wave culminated with the influx of British Loyalists fleeing the American Revolution, chiefly from the middle Atlantic states.
The second wave from Britain and Ireland was encouraged to settle in Canada after the War of 1812, which inlcuded British army regulars who had served in the war by the colonial governors of Canada, who were worried about another American invasion attempt and to counter the French-speaking influence of Quebec, rushed to promote settlement in backcountry areas along newly constructed plank roads within organized land tracts, mostly in Upper Canada (present-day Ontario).
With the second wave Scottish and Irish immigration to Canada had been increasing when the Irish Potato Famine occurred from 1846-1849 resulting in hundreds of thousands more Irish arriving on Canada's shores, although a significant portion migrated to the United States over the subsequent decades. Although overall out migration to the more populous United States has exceeded immigrants coming from the US, there has been sustained immigration from the US over last two centuries and short periods of heavier migration in addition to the loyalist settlement, for example during 19th century Gold Rushes in British Columbia and later the Yukon; land-seekers to the Praries in the early 20th century and also during periods of political turmoil, for example the Vietnam War. Further heavier waves of immigration, mostly from continental Europe peaked in 1910 and again 1956 making Canada a more multicultural country with substantial non-English or French speaking populations.
Immigration since the 1970s until present has overwhelmingly been visible minorities from the developing world since restrictions on non-white immigration were altogether removed, starting when Lester B. Pearson was Prime Minister with the revised Immigration Act, 1967 and this continued to be official government policy under his successor, Pierre Trudeau. During the Mulroney government, immigration levels were increased further by the late 1980s which have been maintained with slight fluctuations since.
Prior to 1885, restrictions on immigration were imposed mostly in response to large waves of immigration rather than planned policy decisions, but not specifically targeted at one group or ethnicity, at least as official policy. Then came the introduction of the first Chinese Head Tax legistation passed in 1885, which was in response to a growing number of Chinese working on the Canadian Pacific Railroad. Subsequent increases in the head tax in 1900 and 1903 limited Chinese entrants to Canada. In 1923 the government passed the Chinese Immigration Act which excluded Chinese from entering Canada altogether between 1923 and 1947. For discriminating against Chinese immigrants in past periods, an official government apology and compensations were announced on June 22, 2006.
A Canadian citizenship ceremony in progressCanadian citizenship was originally created under the Immigration Act, 1910, to designate those British subjects who were domiciled in Canada. All other British subjects required permission to land. A separate status of "Canadian national" was created under the Canadian Nationals Act, 1921, which was defined as being a Canadian citizen as defined above, their wives, and any children (fathered by such citizens) that had not yet landed in Canada. After the passage of the Statute of Westminster in 1931, the monarchy thus ceased to be an exclusively British institution. Because of this Canadians, and others living in countries that became known as Commonwealth Realms, were known as subjects of the Crown. However in legal documents the term "British subject" continued to be used.
Canada was the second nation in the then British Commonwealth to establish its own nationality law in 1946, with the enactment of the Canadian Citizenship Act 1946. This took effect on 1 January 1947. In order to acquire Canadian citizenship on 1 January 1947 one generally had to be a British subject on that date, an Indian or Eskimo, or had been admitted to Canada as landed immigrants before that date. The phrase British subject refers in general to anyone from the UK, its colonies at the time, or a Commonwealth country. Acquisition and loss of British subject status before 1947 was determined by United Kingdom law (see History of British nationality law).
On 15 February 1977, Canada removed restrictions on dual citizenship. Many of the provisions to acquire or lose Canadian citizenship that existed under the 1946 legislation were repealed Canadian citizens are in general no longer subject to involuntary loss of citizenship, barring revocation on the grounds of immigration fraud.