Who can get Refugee Protection in Canada?
If you fear persecution in your country or are at risk of cruel and inhuman treatment or torture, you can claim refugee protection in Canada.
If you are already in Canada or at any port of entry (airport, seaport, land border) and wish to get refugee protection, you need to show that you cannot return to your country of nationality or residence because you fear persecution for at least one of the following reasons:
- Race or nationality. For example: You fear persecution because you are part of an ethnic or language minority group.
- Religion. For example: You fear persecution because you are part of a religious minority or because you have converted to another religion.
- Member of a particular social group. For example: You have been subject to violence because of your sexual orientation or gender, or you fear persecution because of family ties.
- Political opinion. For example: You are a journalist or blogger, a human rights activist, or you are or are perceived as a government opponent.
Or you need to show that you cannot return to your country of nationality or residence because you fear one of the following:
- Risk to your life or cruel and inhuman treatment. You are facing a personal risk that is not faced by the general population. For example: You are the victim of a crime or you are afraid of revenge.
- Risk of torture. You have been subject or risk being subject to severe mental or physical harm committed by the authorities (under their orders or with their consent) to get information from you or to punish you.
Where to make a Refugee Claim?
You can make a refugee claim
- inside Canada with Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) as long as you are not subject to a removal order, or
- upon arrival in Canada at a port of entry (airport, official land border post, or seaport) with the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA)
Make a claim at an IRCC office
You can make a claim for refugee protection at certain IRCC offices. If you choose to make a claim at an IRCC office, you must have all forms in the application package, as well as the Basis of Claim Form (BOC Form), completed and with you.
If the officer from IRCC decides that your claim is eligible, your claim will be referred to the Refugee Protection Division (RPD) of the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB), and you will be given a Confirmation of Referral. Along with a Confirmation of Referral, the referring officer will provide you with a copy of Important Instructions for Refugee Claimants as well as the Claimant's Guide.
Make a claim at any Port of Entry (airport, seaport, land border)
You can make a claim for refugee protection at any port of entry by completing an eligibility interview with an officer from the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) and completing the application package. If the officer decides that your claim is eligible, it is referred to the RPD for a decision. Once your claim has been referred to the RPD:
- You will be given a Confirmation of Referral. Along with a Confirmation of Referral, the referring officer will provide you with a copy of Important Instructions for Refugee Claimants as well as the Claimant's Guide.
- You will be given a Basis of Claim Form (BOC Form). You must submit one completed BOC Form to the RPD for each family member within 15 days of your claim being referred.
Arriving at the Port of Entry (POE) from the United States
Under Canada - U.S. Safe Third Country Agreement (STCA), persons coming to Canada from the U.S. cannot make a refugee claim
- at Canada-U.S. official land border crossings
- if they are coming by train, or
- at airports, only if they have been refused refugee status in the U.S. and they are in transit through Canada after being deported from the U.S.
Under STCA, you are required to request refugee protection in the first safe country you arrive in (either the United States or Canada), unless you qualify for an exception to the Agreement.
STCA does not apply to you meaning that you can claim refugee protection if:
- You are a U.S. citizen.
- You are a stateless person and have lived in the U.S. for a significant period of time.
You can also claim refugee protection at an official Canadian border post if you qualify as one of the following exceptions to STCA:
- You have a valid Canadian visa, a work permit or a study permit.
- You are under 18 and your parents are not in the United States.
- You face the death penalty in your country or the United States.
- You have close family members who are living in Canada. The STCA recognizes a family member as one of the following: spouse, legal guardian, child, father or mother, sister or brother, grandfather or grandmother, grandchild, uncle or aunt, nephew or niece, common-law partner, or same-sex spouse with a legal status in Canada.
If you make a refugee claim upon crossing the border in-between official border posts
You will be arrested by the police and questioned about your irregular entry. You will then be brought to the nearest official border post to have your asylum claim processed.
If your Claim is found to ineligible by IRCC or CBSA?
If your claim is not eligible to be referred to the RPD, you may have access to another process called the Pre-Removal Risk Assessment (PRRA), which will be conducted by an immigration officer from IRCC. Regardless of whether your refugee claim is assessed by the RPD or through a Pre-Removal Risk Assessment (PRRA) by IRCC, the authorities will evaluate your fear of persecution and decide whether or not to grant you international protection.
Attending your Hearing
The RPD will send you a Notice to Appear by mail when your claim is ready to be heard. On the Notice to Appear, there are two dates. The first date is the date of your hearing. The second date on your Notice to Appear is for a special hearing. In the event that you do not attend your hearing, you must appear at your special hearing to explain why you were not able to attend your hearing. At the special hearing, the member will determine whether your claim should be declared abandoned.
Hearings usually take half a day and take place in private in order to protect you and your family. Young children under the age of 12 who are accompanied by an adult making a refugee claim are not required to appear before the Refugee Protection Division unless the presiding member requires their attendance. If the RPD member cannot be in the same city as you, your hearing may take place by videoconference. After you and any witnesses have testified, the member will ask you or your counsel to explain why you think your claim should be accepted. If the Minister’s counsel is participating, the member will give them an opportunity to comment on your case as well.
Receiving your Decision
When a decision is made on your refugee protection claim, the Refugee Protection Division (RPD) will send you a
written Notice of Decision, along with an explanation of the reasons for this decision.
If your claim is accepted
You will get "protected person" status. If the Minister does not appeal within 15 days, this means you can stay in Canada and you may be eligible to apply for permanent residence.
If your claim is rejected
You may choose to leave Canada voluntarily. If you are eligible (most claimants are), you can appeal to the Refugee Appeal Division (RAD). You must file your appeal within 15 days of receiving your Notice of Decision and reasons for decision.
If you are not eligible to appeal to the RAD, you can apply to the Federal Court of Canada for judicial review.
Get in Touch for more information, applying for refugee protection from inside Canada, submitting BOC Form, representing you at Refugee Protection Division (RPD) or/and Refugee Appeal Division (RAD).