Refugee Protection Claims
Those seeking Canada’s protection can make a Refugee Claim if they are in Canada. A 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. Refugee status can also be established if a person can show a risk to their life or of cruel and unusual treatment or punishment, or a risk of torture in their home country. 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 police authorities in the home country are unable or unwilling to protect the refugee claimant from.
Refugees must in most instances first enter Canada before making a refugee claim. Refugee claims can generally only be made from outside Canada if the refugee claimant has already obtained refugee designation from the United Nations High Commission on Refugees (UNHCR).
A refugee claim by a person in Canada is made to the Refugee Protection Division (RPD) of the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB). The IRB/RPD is an independent government tribunal which acts like a court to decide who will be granted refugee status.
The timelines before the RPD are strict and require a refugee to be able to prepare for and attend their refugee claim without delay. A description of the process and time frames is as follows:
- Claims made at the port of entry have 15 days to provide their Basis of Claim forms to the Refugee Protection Division.
- Claims made at an immigration office inside Canada must provide their Basis of Claim forms on the same day as the claim is made.
- The Refugee Protection Division will set a date for a hearing 30 to 60 days from the day the claim was referred to it, depending on where the claim was made. (In practice the hearing will usually be delayed far beyond this timeframe.)
- Documentary disclosure and witness statements are due to be filed at the RPD at least 10 days before the date of the hearing.
At the refugee hearing the refugee claimant will be questioned by the refugee judge about their claim and their testimony will be considered together with their other evidence, including any documents they have produced to support their claims and any witnesses who have testified in relation to their claim. The judge will then decide whether to grant refugee protection, or to refuse it. If the claim is granted the refugee can then apply for permanent residence in Canada. If the claim is refused, the refugee judge will provide his or her reasons for refusal in writing, and the refugee claimant can in some instances appeal the decision to the Refugee Appeal Division, or apply for judicial review in the Federal Court.
The Law Office of Matthew Jeffery has many years of expertise assisting refugees to make their claims in Canada. Please contact us for further information if you require assistance in making a refugee claim.