Refugee Protection Claims
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    Refugee Protection Claims

    You can apply for refugee protection in Canada if you meet the definition of a Convention refugee or a person in need of protection.

    A Convention refugee is a person who fears persecution in their home country on the basis of their race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or particular social group.

    A person in need of protection is a person who will face a danger of torture, or a risk to their life or of cruel and unusual treatment or punishment if they return to their country of nationality.

    In both cases, the risk faced by the refugee must be a personal one, and not one related to a general risk in the home country. The risk must also be one that the authorities in the home country are unable or unwilling to protect the refugee claimant from.

    How to claim refugee status from outside Canada:

    In most instances, refugees must first enter Canada before making a refugee claim. Some refugees abroad may come to Canada as government-assisted or privately-sponsored refugees, however, these programs are very limited, and the refugee claimant must meet several requirements to be eligible. For example, refugees abroad wishing to resettle in Canada must first be identified as refugees by the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), before they may be sponsored by a qualified Canadian sponsor. Refugees abroad cannot apply directly to Canada for resettlement.

    Making a refugee claim in Canada:

    Most people who make refugee claims in Canada do so by first entering Canada then making a refugee claim upon or after their arrival.

    To make a claim for refugee protection in Canada, you may either make a claim at any port of entry when you arrive, or you can make a claim from within Canada after you have arrived. The claim will be made to the immigration authorities who will then refer the case to the Immigration and Refugee Board for determination.

    In Canada, refugee protection decisions are made by the Refugee Protection Division (RPD) of the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB). The RPD/IRB is an independent government tribunal which acts like a court to decide who will be granted refugee status.

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    The Refugee Claim Process in Canada

    Submitting your claim at a port of entry:

    If you make a claim for refugee protection at a port of entry, such as an airport or land border, you will complete an interview with a Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) officer, fill out an application package, and provide your biometrics (fingerprints and a photo). Once you submit your eligible claim, it is referred to the RPD for a decision.

    Submitting your claim after arriving in Canada:

    If you make a claim for refugee protection after arriving in Canada, you must submit your entire application at once, on the day your claim is made. This includes all supporting documentation, including your Basis of Claim Forms. Almost all refugee claims should now be made online, through the Canadian Refugee Protection Portal.

    Overview of the Refugee Process in Canada:

    The timelines for completing a refugee claim are very strict. They require you to prepare and attend to your claim without delay.

    If you make a claim for refugee protection at a port of entry, once your claim is referred to the RPD you will receive a Basis of Claim Form. You are required to submit this form for each family no later than 15 days after the date your claim was referred to the RPD. If you make your claim after you have arrived in Canada, you must submit your entire application at once.

    Once your refugee claim is referred, the Refugee Protection Division will set a hearing date. While the RPD aims to set a date for 30-60 days from when the claim was referred, it usually takes much longer. You must file any documentary disclosure and witness statements with the RPD at least 10 days prior to your hearing.

    At your refugee hearing, you will be questioned by a decision-maker (the ‘refugee judge’, known as a ‘Member’). The Member will ask you questions about your refugee claim and the information provided in your Basis of Claim Form. The Member will use this information, along with your testimony and any other evidence or documents available, to determine whether to grant or refuse you refugee protection.

    If your refugee claim is granted

    If your claim is granted, you can then apply for permanent residence in Canada.

    If your refugee claim is refused

    If your claim is refused, you will receive written reasons from the Member. In some cases, you may appeal this decision to the Refugee Appeal Division or apply for judicial review of the decision by the Federal Court of Canada.

    The Law Office of Matthew Jeffery has over 20 years of expertise assisting those making refugee claims in Canada, including those with extremely complicated cases.

    If you are interested in making a refugee claim, please contact us for further information on how we can assist you.