The Immigration and Refugee Protection Act is the federal law which makes it possible for individuals who are fleeing danger, torture, persecution, or cruel and unusual punishment to appeal to Canada for protection. Refugees who make a successful claim are granted permanent resident status and may apply for citizenship at a later date. They also receive access to a number of services that can help them start over in Canada.
Refugee claims and applications for asylum may be made either at an official Canadian Port of Entry or inside Canada at the office of Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). Canada does have an agreement with other nations that says you must apply for asylum status at the first safe country you arrive in, so if you come to Canada from the United States you cannot make a claim at the border without meeting certain exceptions.
While Canada is a highly humanitarian nation that cares deeply about helping refugees, making a refugee claim is a complex legal process, and your success is not guaranteed. Here’s what you need to know.
What is Refugee Protection?
According to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act:
“Refugee protection is conferred on a person when the person has been determined to be a Convention refugee or a person in similar circumstances under a visa application and becomes a permanent resident under a temporary resident permit for protection reasons. A Convention refugee is a person who, by reason of a well-founded fear of persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group or political opinion (a) is outside each of their countries or nationality and is unable or, by reason of that fear, unwilling to avail themselves of the protection of each of these countries; or (b) not having a country of nationality, is outside the country of their former habitual residence and is unable or, by reason of that fear, unwilling to return to that country.”
Refugee protection allows people who are in dire straits in their home country to find safe haven in Canada’s borders, and to begin a new life here.
Who Needs Refugee Protection?
You may need refugee protection if you have reason to believe that your life is at risk in your home country as a result of your protected status (that is, your race, your religion, your sexuality, etc.). Canada also extends refugee protection to individuals whose nations have been torn apart by war.
You cannot claim refugee protection if the risk is not inherent or incidental to lawful sanctions “unless imposed in disregard of accepted international standards” and the risk is not caused by the inability of that country to provide adequate health or medical care.
Who Can Claim Refugee Protection in Canada?
Any person who feels they are a person in need of protection may apply for said protection. You can even do it before you try to enter Canada by applying under the “Convention Refugee Abroad Class.”
How are Refugees Protected?
While your refugee claim is being processed you are allowed to remain in Canada, where you will be safe from the persecution you fear. You may also have access to certain services such as housing and income assistance while you wait, or may gain help securing employment or a work permit.
When your refugee claim is granted you’ll generally be issued an invitation to apply for permanent residency.
Humanitarian and Compassionate Applications
There are some potential immigrants who wouldn’t normally be eligible to become permanent residents of Canada, but who have exceptional cases. For example, perhaps they have general family ties to Canada. Perhaps children are involved.
A humanitarian and compassionate application is not the same as a refugee claim. In fact, you cannot make this application if you are in the middle of a refugee claim.
Physical Protection or Person in Need of Protection
This provision of Canadian immigration law allows Canada to extend protection to refugees who wouldn’t normally be eligible for protection on Convention grounds.
They must need protection from a state agent who might threaten their life or threaten them with cruel and unusual punishment. The risk must be personal. In addition, no protection may be available from their own nation.
The risk must also extend to every part of the country the person in need of protection is from.
Am I Eligible to Make a Claim?
You may make the claim without restriction, but that doesn’t mean that your claim is going to be approved.
The way that you phrase your refugee request can make a big difference in whether or not immigration officials take it seriously.
Reaching out to an immigration lawyer to get help with your claim can help you obtain your best chance of getting the protection you deserve. The United Nations Refugee Agency strongly suggests getting aid from an attorney as well.
How Can I Make a Refugee Claim?
You can email to [email protected] to tell them you want to start a claim. They will send you a link to create a secure online account where you can begin the application process.
What Happens after the Refugee Protection Division Receives My Claim?
You will be scheduled for an eligibility interview. Once you are determined to be eligible you will be scheduled for a hearing before the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRBC).
Need Help Making a Refugee Claim?
Don’t leave your refugee claim up to chance. Reach out to our attorneys to get help today. We have decades of experience helping people just like you find hope within Canada’s borders.
We even have attorneys on staff who speak Mandarin and Punjabi if you need help in either of these languages.
Get started by calling (604) 394-2777 to make an appointment today. We are happy to set up a video chat appointment if you require one!