Why is immigration important?

Every year Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) set a target number of immigrants permitted to come to Canada. Immigrants are selected for their economic contribution, their humanitarian needs and to reunite families.

Canada’s Immigration System: An Overview

How are immigrants selected?

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) establishes immigration policy and makes decisions on who can enter Canada.

If you want to immigrate to Canada, you need to apply through IRCC. The type of application you need depends on which immigration program you want to apply under.

What does the screening process look like?

All applications are evaluated on specific requirements and regulations.

You may need to meet certain health and security requirements. Everyone applying to live permanently in Canada must provide:

  • a police certificate or criminal record check
  • their photo and fingerprints (biometrics)


The IRCC and Canada Border Services Agency ( CBSA) use your biometrics when reviewing your application or when you arrive at the border to:

  • confirm your identity
  • resolve issues with your identity, if someone else has a similar name or birthdate or birth location
  • compare them to anyone existing in the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) records (e.g. criminals, deportees)

You may need to submit your biometrics multiple times if you apply for different visas or permanent residence over time.

  • a visitor visa
  • a work or study permit (excluding US nationals)
  • permanent residence
  • refugee or asylum status
  • an extension of your stay in Canada, known as a visitor record 
  • work or study permit extension 

There are some exemptions.

For More Information

  • Canada’s Immigration Track Record - Read what the research says about how Canada’s immigration system works for all of us. From Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).
  • IRCC Help Centre - A tool that helps answer frequently asked questions on immigration matters. It offers several ways of searching through the information available, including keyword searches. From Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).
  • Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) - An independent tribunal that is responsible for hearing refugee claims and appeals.
  • Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) - The federal agency responsible for border (port-of-entry) services, customs and enforcement of some immigration laws in Canada.
Last updated: December 21, 2022 4006550