Canada is a progressive country that believes in human rights and equality for all and any individuals who enter. For any individuals who are entering Canada because they are being persecuted in their home countries or are unable to return to their country for reasons such as war, they may be able to apply for refugee status in Canada. Canada offers these types of individuals protection. In this article, I will address what constitutes refugee status in Canada, who is eligible for refugee status in Canada, and how to apply for refugee protection in Canada.
A refugee is an individual who has fled from their home country due to well-founded fear of persecution. Furthermore, other attributes that come along with refugee status is that they are unable to return to their home country due to persecution or worse. In addition, these individuals have unfortunately have had to endure horrific experiences. It is important to note, however, that refugees are much different than immigrants. An immigrant is defined as an individual who voluntarily chooses to settle permanently in another country from their own home country. In contrast, a refugee is defined as an individual who involuntarily is forced to flee their home country and need to relocate elsewhere.
Similar to any other immigration matter, there are eligibility requirements for refugee status in Canada. Therefore, there are some individuals that may not be eligible to claim for refugee status in Canada. The discretion is ultimately in the hands of Immigration officers under the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB). The IRB is an independent board that ultimately determines immigration and refugee matters. They also decide whether an individual is a Convention refugee or a person in need of protection. There is a difference between these two categories of refugees.
A Convention refugee is defined as an individual that is outside of their home country or the country where they usually reside. Furthermore, they are unable to return to that country due to well-founded fear of persecution which can be based on the following:
In contrast, a person in need of protection is defined as an individual that is in Canada who cannot return to their home country in a safe manner. The reasoning behind this is because if they do return, they would be subject to any of the following:
There are several circumstances that may cause an individual to be unable and ineligible to claim refugee status. For instance, if you are issued a removal order from Canada previously, unfortunately, you are unable to claim refugee status. Furthermore, there are several other circumstances, such as being recognized as a Convention refugee by another country; have been previously granted protected person status in Canada; have arrived in Canada through the Canada-U.S. border; being inadmissible to Canada on security grounds, past criminal activity or human rights violations; have made a previous refugee claim that was ineligible; have made a previous refugee claim that was rejected by IRB; and/or have an abandoned or withdrawn refugee claim from the past. If you can relate and/or have experienced any of the aforementioned examples, then unfortunately you would not be eligible to claim refugee status.
In order to apply for refugee status in Canada, there are two ways to do so. You can either apply at a port of entry or at an IRCC office in Canada. If you decide to apply at a port of entry, you may apply at either an airport, seaport or land border. Once you apply at a port of entry, the IRB officer will determine if your claim is eligible. If your claim is eligible and you successfully apply, you will be given a scheduled date for your IRB hearing and have a maximum of 15 days to complete all of the forms in the application package and submit them to IRB.
On the other hand, if you apply at an IRCC office, you must also complete all of the forms in the application package and bring them with you. The only difference is that you will not be scheduled a date for your IRB hearing until you show in person that you have completed all of the forms. Once all of the forms have been completed and the officer is satisfied that you are eligible to claim for refugee status, you will then be given a scheduled date for your IRB hearing.
Please note that in most circumstances, IRB will hear refugee claims within 60 days (2 months). Nevertheless, if you are coming from a designated country of origin, for example France, then they will process your asylum claim much faster. The reason for this is because designated countries of original typically do not produce refugees and respect human rights. Therefore, this policy is created to deter abuse of the refugee system by individuals who come from countries that are deemed generally safe. As a result, individuals who do need protection are assisted quickly and those with unfounded claims for refugee status are sent back quickly as well.
It is essential that you have taken all of the aforementioned important information in consideration prior to applying or claiming refugee status. Any individual who is currently going through hardships and needs to claim refugee status can have a very difficult time applying; therefore, it is highly recommended that you seek out professional and experienced help before attempting to submit the application. Here, at Akrami & Associates, we work and have experience with many different immigration issues. We have helped some of our clients claim refugee status in Canada. If you believe that you might be eligible, please feel free to contact Akrami & Associates at our office at 416-477-2545 for more information or if you would like to book a consultation with an immigration professional for more advise.
With Akrami & Associates, there is always a way!