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Canadian citizen

A person described as a citizen under the Citizenship Act. This means a person who is Canadian by birth (either born in Canada or born outside Canada to a Canadian citizen who was themselves either born in Canada or granted citizenship) or has applied to be granted citizenship and has received Canadian citizenship (naturalization).

Certificate of Canadian citizenship

A Canadian citizenship certificate is a document that proves that a person is a Canadian citizen. The citizenship certificate is an 8½ x 11 paper size certificate that contains: certificate number, Unique Client Identifier (UCI), name, date of birth, gender, and effective date of Canadian citizenship.


Typically someone who was either born in a country and granted citizenship at birth, or has been granted citizenship by that country through an immigration process. In some cases, however, being born within a given country’s borders does not guarantee citizenship. In these cases, citizenship can sometimes be acquired through an additional naturalization process.


A state-recognized nationality and the duties, rights, responsibilities and privileges that come with it.

Immigrant (Canada)

A person who is, or who has been, a landed immigrant or permanent resident. Such a person has been granted the right to live in Canada permanently by immigration authorities. Immigrants who have obtained Canadian citizenship by naturalization are included in this group.

Irregular migrant

The term “irregular immigration” has no clear legal definition. An irregular immigrant can refer to an individual crossing a country’s border without proper authority. It can also apply to those who violate residency conditions after entering a country. Many irregular immigrants come to Canada to seek asylum and apply for refugee status. The majority of these individuals likely live in Toronto and other large urban centres.


The formal process by which a person who is not a Canadian citizen can become a Canadian citizen. The person must usually become a permanent resident first.

Newcomer (also known as recent immigrant)

A landed immigrant who came to Canada up to five years prior to a given census year. For the 2016 Census, recent immigrants are landed immigrants who arrived in Canada between January 1, 2011, and Census Day.

Out Migration

Leaving one geographic region to settle in another. The term typically refers to movement within a country’s borders, whereas emigration refers to movement from one country to another.

Permanent Resident (Canada)

A person who has legally immigrated to Canada through a permanent immigration pathway, but is not yet a Canadian citizen.

Provincial Nominee Program

A program that allows provinces and territories to nominate candidates for immigration to Canada. This program is for workers who have the skills, education and work experience to contribute to the economy of a specific province or territory; want to live in that province; and want to become permanent residents of Canada.

Temporary Resident

A foreign national who is in Canada legally for a short period. Temporary residents include students, foreign workers and visitors, such as tourists.

Permanent residents


Business class

A category that includes investors, entrepreneurs and self-employed people. A person may become a permanent resident in this category based on his or her ability to become economically established in Canada. The applicant’s spouse or common-law partner, and the applicant’s dependent children, are also included in this category.

Business visitor

A person who comes to Canada to take part in international business or trade activities, has no intent to enter the Canadian labour market, and works for and is paid by a company outside Canada or by a foreign government.

Canadian Experience Class

An immigration category that allows (i) foreign workers who have worked for at least 12 months in Canada, or (ii) recently graduated international students working in Canada, to apply for permanent residence.

Economic Class

A category of immigrants selected for their skills and ability to contribute to Canada’s economy. Economic Class immigrants include skilled workers, provincial and territorial nominees, business immigrants, Quebec skilled workers and Canadian Experience Class members, and their spouses and dependants.

Express Entry

 A federal immigration admission pathway to permanent residence for skilled workers in Canada or overseas. For potential skilled foreign workers, Express Entry will result in fast processing times of six months or less. There are three categories of skilled workers that can access this pathway: (i)Those in the Canadian Experience Class, (ii) those enrolled in the Federal Skilled Worker Program, and (iii) those enrolled in the Federal Skilled Trades Program.

Family class

An immigration category that includes any family members sponsored to come to Canada by a Canadian citizen or permanent resident. Family members: an applicant’s closest relatives, in the context of an application to IRCC. Family class can include a spouse or common-law partner and dependent children.

Federal Skilled Trades Program

A program designed for skilled workers who want to become permanent residents based on being qualified in a skilled trade. Skilled trades in Canada may include industrial, electrical and construction trades; maintenance and equipment operation trades; supervisors and technical jobs in natural resources, agriculture and related production; processing, manufacturing and utilities supervisors; central control operators; chefs and cooks; butchers and bakers.

Federal skilled worker

An immigrant selected as a permanent resident based on their education, work experience, knowledge of English and/or French, and other criteria that have been shown to help people succeed in the Canadian labour market. Spouses and children are included in the application.

Quebec selects its own skilled workers, under the Quebec skilled worker Class (QSW).

Provincial or territorial nominee

Someone who is nominated for immigration to Canada by a provincial or territorial government that has a Provincial Nominee Program. Nominees have the skills, education and work experience needed to make an immediate economic contribution to the province or territory that nominates them.




Protection that is offered to persons with a well-founded fear of persecution based on race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular social group, as well as those at risk of torture or cruel and unusual treatment or punishment.

Government Assisted Refugee

Under the Government-Assisted Refugees (GAR) Program, refugees are referred to Canada for resettlement by the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) or another referral organization. Individuals cannot apply directly. They must register for refugee status with the UNHCR or state authorities to be considered by a referral organization. A GAR’s initial resettlement in Canada is entirely supported by the Government of Canada or the province of Quebec. This support is delivered by non-governmental agencies called service-providing organizations funded by IRCC. GARs receive support for up to one year from the date they arrive in Canada, or until they are able to support themselves, whichever happens first.

Group of five

A group of five or more Canadian citizens or permanent residents, each of whom is at least 18 years of age, who agree to work together to sponsor a refugee.

Humanitarian and compassionate application (H&C)

People who would not normally be eligible to become permanent residents of Canada may be able to apply on humanitarian and compassionate (H & C) grounds. H & C grounds apply to people with exceptional cases. Factors that are looked at include: how settled the person is in Canada, general family ties to Canada, the best interests of any children involved, and the degree of hardship that the applicant would experience if the request is not granted and they must leave Canada in order to apply for permanent residence.

Privately Sponsored Refugee

A person outside Canada who has been determined to be a convention refugee or member of the Country of Asylum class and who receives financial and other support from a private sponsor for one year after their arrival in Canada. Private sponsors are Sponsorship Agreement Holders (SAHs), Groups of Five or Community Sponsors.

Protected Person

A person who has been determined to be a convention refugee or person in similar circumstances by a Canadian visa officer outside Canada.

Refugee (or convention refugee)

A person who is outside of their home country or country where they normally live and fears returning to that country because of a well-founded fear of persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group or political opinion. The 1951 UN Refugee Convention and its 1967 Protocol are the key legal documents that form the basis of this term. The core principle is non-refoulement, which asserts that a refugee should not be returned to a country where they face serious threats to their life or freedom. This is now considered a rule of customary international law.

Refugee and Humanitarian Resettlement Program

The Government of Canada’s program under which refugees from abroad, who meet Canada’s refugee resettlement criteria, are selected and admitted to Canada.

Refugee claimant

A person who has applied for refugee protection status while in Canada and is waiting for a decision on his/her claim from the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada.

Secondary Migration

A refugee newcomer initiated change in destination (city or province) either while still in temporary accommodation, or after the refugee has moved into their permanent address, and before the end of their first year in Canada.


A Canadian citizen or permanent resident who is 18 years of age or older, and who legally supports a member of the Family Class to become a permanent resident of Canada.

Sponsorship Agreement Holders (SAHs)

The term refers to organizations that help refugees resettle in Canada. They are often religious, ethnic, community or humanitarian organizations. SAHs support refugees they sponsor either on their own or by working with other groups or individuals, called “constituent groups” (CGs) or “co-sponsors”.

Temporary residents



Under the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP), families can hire foreign caregivers. Families can hire a foreign caregiver to provide care, in a private residence, to children, seniors or persons with certified medical needs, when Canadians and permanent residents are not available. These families or private household employers will be able to hire foreign workers, on a live-in or live-out basis, for two different categories of in-home workers, which include:

  • Caregivers for children
  • Caregivers for people with high medical needs: elderly persons, people with disabilities, a chronic or terminal illness.

Foreign caregivers working in Canada may be eligible for permanent residency, provided they meet IRCC requirements.

Foreign academics

An academic is an individual with at least one postgraduate degree (following a Bachelor’s degree) who earns the majority of their income from teaching or conducting research as employees at universities and university colleges in Canada. For institutions in Canada interested in hiring a foreign worker for an occupation where the majority of the job duties are other than teaching or research (management, financial or administrative, etc.) the regular process for hiring foreign workers applies, in accordance with Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC). The regular ESDC process for hiring foreign workers applies to community colleges unless the college is affiliated with a university and their students can obtain degrees, and to the Collèges d’enseignement général et professionnel (Cégep) in Quebec.

Global Talent Stream

A program that offers client-focused service to help access highly-skilled global talent to expand the Canadian workforce to be competitive on a global scale. This stream, which is part of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program, is designed for innovative firms in Canada that are referred to Employment and Social Development Canada by a designated referral partner, and that need uniquely skilled and specialized foreign nationals in order to scale-up and grow.

Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program (SAWP)

The program allows employers to hire temporary foreign workers (TFWs) when Canadians and permanent residents are not available. These employers can hire TFWs from participating countries for a maximum period of 8 months, between January 1 and December 15, provided they are able to offer the workers a minimum of 240 hours of work within a period of 6 weeks or less. To qualify for the SAWP, employers must meet three criteria: the TFWs hired must be citizens from Mexico or participating Caribbean countries; production must be in specific commodity sectors; the activity must be related to on-farm primary agriculture.

Study permit

A document issued by IRCC that authorizes a foreign national to study at an educational institution in Canada for the duration of the program of study. It sets out conditions for the student such as: whether their travel within Canada is restricted and when they are required to leave.

Temporary Foreign Worker Program

This program allows employers to hire foreign workers to fill short-term labour and skill shortages when no Canadians are available to do the job. A Labour Market Impact Assessment is needed to hire through this program. Foreign workers hired as part of this program are referred to as temporary foreign workers. They may get a work permit only after the Labour Market Impact Assessment has concluded that no Canadians are available to do the job.

Temporary workers in Canada may include seasonal agricultural workers, foreign academics and caregivers.

Temporary resident visa

An official counterfoil document issued by a visa office abroad that is placed in a person’s passport to show that he/ she/ they have met the requirements for admission to Canada as a temporary resident (a visitor, student or worker). A counterfoil is a specially designated sticker on which ‘missions abroad’ prints visa information. Informally known as a visitor or tourist visa, the TRV may be issued for single or multiple entries to Canada.

Work permit

A document issued by IRCC that authorizes a person to work legally in Canada. It sets out conditions for the worker such as: the type of work they can do, the employer they can work for, where they can work, and how long they can work.