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Refugee - Claim Asylum in Canada

If you’re a refugee, you may be able to claim asylum in Canada if you meet certain conditions.

For more information about how to claim asylum, and what options are available to refugees, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our team of expert immigration lawyers today. Call us on +1 844 290 6312, or contact us online.

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    What is Refugee Protection in Canada?

    If you’re a refugee at risk of facing persecution or danger outside of Canada, you may be eligible to claim asylum and gain refugee protection.

    You may be able to seek asylum in Canada if you’re in danger of facing certain risks/dangers if you go back to your home country or the country where you normally reside.

    Some of the dangers include:

    • Torture
    • Risk to life
    • Risk of cruel and unusual treatment or punishment

    If you need to claim asylum in Canada, we may be able to help you. Call us today on +1 844 290 6312, or use any of our other contact options to reach us.

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    Classification of Refugees in Canada?

    The Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB) handles asylum claims in Canada. The IRB is an independent tribunal that carries out decisions on refugee and immigration cases in Canada.

    The IRB also make the decision on whether refugees are classed as ‘Convention refugees’ or ‘persons in need of protection’.

    ‘Convention refugees’ are people who cannot return to their home country or normal country of residence because of the risk of persecution. This may be based on:

    • Race
    • Religion
    • Political opinion
    • Nationality
    • Being a member of a particular social group, such as sexual orientation

    Meanwhile, a ‘person in need of protection’ is a person in Canada who can’t return to their home country safely. This may be because they might face any of the following if they return:

    • Danger of torture
    • Risk to their life
    • Risk of cruel and unusual treatment or punishment

    Who Can Make a Refugee Claim in Canada?

    In order to be eligible for a refugee claim, you must:

    • Be in Canada
    • Not be subject to a removal order

    If you’re a refugee outside Canada, you may be able to apply to resettle in Canada as a refugee, or immigrate to Canada using one of its immigration programs, such as Express Entry or the Provincial Nominee Programs.

    Your refugee claim must fulfil the eligibility requirements to be successfully referred to the IRB, who will ultimately approve or refuse your refugee claim.

    Your refugee claim may be ineligible to be referred to the IRB if:

    • You were recognized as a Convention refugee by another country that you can return to
    • You were granted protected person status in Canada
    • You arrived via the Canada–United States border
    • You have made a refugee claim in another country, as confirmed through information-sharing
    • You are inadmissible to Canada on security grounds, criminal activity or human rights violations
    • You made a previous refugee claim that was found to be ineligible
    • You made a previous refugee claim that was rejected by the IRB
    • You abandoned or withdrew a previous refugee claim

    If you’re unsure if you’ll be eligible to make an asylum claim in Canada, reach out to one of our professional immigration lawyers. Call us on +1 844 290 6312, or contact us online today.

    How Can I Make a Refugee Claim at the Canadian Border?

    The Canadian border is one of two locations where you’re able to make a refugee claim, the other being from inside Canada itself.

    When you first arrive at a Canadian port of entry, such as an airport or a seaport, an officer from the Canada Border Services Agency will ask you to complete the required application forms to outline the details of your refugee claim.

    The border services officer will also:

    • Ask you questions about your situation
    • Collect your documentation and proof of identity
    • Take biometric information in the form of fingerprints and a photograph

    If Your Refugee Claim is Found to be Eligible

    If the border services officer decides that your claim is eligible, they will give you the following:

    • A Refugee Protection Claimant Document, which will help you get access to the Interim Federal Health Program and other services in Canada
    • A confirmation of referral letter, which confirms your claim has been referred to the IRB
    • A Basis of Claim form
    • Instructions about completing your medical exam

    You will have to fill in the Basis of Claim form within 15 calendar days and submit it to the IRB’s Refugee Protection Division Office shown on your confirmation of referral letter.

    The Basis of Claim form will be ask to provide details about yourself and your situation, such as:

    • Your personal information
    • Your travel history
    • Family information
    • Why you are claiming refugee protection

    If the Officer Tells You to Come Back to the Port of Entry or an Inland Office for an Interview

    The officer will give you the following:

    • An information pamphlet
    • An acknowledgement of claim letter, which will help you get access to the Interim Federal Health Program and other services in Canada
    • Instructions about completing your medical exam

    The officer may also tell you to submit your refugee claim online. If you’re told to complete your claim online, you will need:

    • The application number on your acknowledgement of claim letter
    • The interview location given to you by the officer

    We can provide expert support and advice when you make an asylum claim at the Canadian border. Call us today on +1 844 290 6312, or contact us online.

    How Can I Make a Refugee Claim Online From Within Canada?

    You may submit your refugee claim online if you’re already in Canada, or if a border services officer requested you do so.

    You will need a scanner or a camera to create electronic copies of your official documents.

    There are two ways you can submit a refugee claim online. You can either submit it on your own, or use a representative to submit it on your behalf.

    What to Do If You’re Submitting a Refugee Claim On Your Own

    If you’re submitting a claim on your own, you will need to take the following steps:

    • Create an account for the Canadian Refugee Protection Portal
    • Complete the questionnaire given
    • Upload all of the documents required
      • This must include a signed Use of a Representative Form
    • Electronically sign and submit your refugee claim

    If you’re using a representative, they can:

    • Provide advice
    • Help you prepare documents
    • Help you use the portal (in person, by phone or via electronic means)

    When you submit your claim online, you must ensure that you enter your own name and that you are the one who clicks submit.

    What to Do If a Representative is Submitting a Claim On Your Behalf

    If a representative is submitting a claim on your behalf, you both must first sign the following documents:

    • A Declaration – Authorization to give representative control of the Canadian Refugee Protection Portal form
    • A Use of a Representative form

    These documents will authorize your representative to make a claim on your behalf.

    Once you and your representative have signed these forms, your representative must:

    • Create an account for the Canadian Refugee Protection Portal
      • They can do this with either your email address, or one that they create and monitor specifically for your claim
    • Complete all forms given
    • Upload all documents required, including the combined signed Declaration form and Use of a Representative form
    • Electronically sign (using their name) and submit your claim

    When a representative submits a claim for you, they must type in their name (not yours). They must also be the one to click the button to submit the claim on your behalf.

    We can help provide legal representative services for your refugee claim. Contact us today on +1 844 290 6312, or get in touch with us online for more information.

    What Documents Will I Need to Submit with My Online Refugee Claim?

    Overview of Documents

    If you started your refugee claim online, you must upload the following documents:

    • A Basis of Claim form
    • A copy of your travel/ID document (in colour if possible)
      • If you don’t have a travel/ID document, you must instead upload a letter of explanation
    • A Use of a Representative form (if applicable)
    • A Declaration – Authorization to give representative control of the Canadian Refugee Protection Portal form (if your representative is submitting the claim on your behalf)

    You may also upload optional documents to help support your refugee claim. You will also be able to do this if you started your refugee claim when arriving at the Canadian border.

    Examples of optional documents include:

    • Identity documents
    • Proof of your arrival and entrance to Canada
    • Proof of membership in political organizations, unions, or other groups
    • Police or medical reports
    • Business records
    • A copy of any criminal convictions
    • Proof of ill treatment, desecration, or looting you witnessed or took part in
    • News articles and human rights reports on country conditions
    • Any other document that could support your claim for refugee protection
    • An explanation of any difficulties you had in submitting or providing information in the portal

    What Types of Identity Documents Can I Submit?

    Identity documents should be submitted for you and your family members who are in Canada and are included in the application for refugee protection.

    These may include documents that are not genuine, documents that were obtained in an irregular or illegal way or by giving information that is not true, and documents that do not really belong to you.

    Examples include:

    • Passports
    • Travel documents
    • Birth certificates
    • Identity cards
    • Baptismal records
    • School certificates as proof of identity
    • Marriage certificates (as proof of relationship)
    • Membership cards of political or social organizations

    Note that any documents not in English or French must be translated into either of those languages (depending on which one you have chosen for your proceeding). Documents not in English or French cannot normally be used at IRB hearings unless the overseeing IRB Member gives their approval.

    We can help assemble the relevant supporting documents you need to help support your asylum claim in Canada. Get in touch with one of our immigration advisors on +1 844 290 6312, or contact us online today.

    What Happens After I Make a Claim at a Canadian Port of Entry?

    After you submit your refugee claim at a Canadian port of entry, there are four possible outcomes that may occur.

    The Border Services Officer Decides Your Claim is Eligible

    If your claim is deemed to be eligible, you’ll receive a notice from the IRB about a hearing. You must:

    • Complete your medical exam
    • Attend your hearing with the IRB

    The Officer Schedules You for an Interview

    If an interview is scheduled, you must:

    • Complete your medical exam
    • Attend your scheduled interview

    The Officer Tells You to Complete Your Claim Online

    If you’re directed to make your claim online, you must:

    • Complete your claim online
    • Complete your medical exam
    • Attend your scheduled interview

    To complete your claim online, you’ll need:

    • The application number on your acknowledgement of claim letter
    • Your interview location

    The Officer Decides Your Claim Is Not Eligible

    If your claim is found to be ineligible, it won’t be referred to the IRB and you’ll be issued an enforceable removal order to leave Canada.

    What Happens After I Make a Claim Online?

    After you submit your claim online, Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) will check to see if it’s been completed and filled out fully.

    If it is, then they will:

    • Add your refugee claim (and the claims for any family members you included) to their system
    • Send you the following through your online account:
      • An acknowledgement of claim letter, which will help you get access to the Interim Federal Health Program and other services in Canada
      • Instructions to complete your medical exam
      • A letter with details about an in-person appointment, once it’s been scheduled

    If your claim is incomplete, you will be notified by IRCC of what you need to upload to make your claim complete.

    Get in touch with our immigration lawyers today for help with your asylum case. Contact Us

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      What to Expect at your In-Person Appointment

      You may be asked to attend an in-person appointment with IRCC as part of the refugee claims process. You must make sure that you bring your original passport or any other identification documents with you.

      During your appointment, IRCC will:

      • Review your application
      • Collect biometric information in the form of fingerprints and photo and any required documents (if you haven’t already provided them)
      • Conduct your eligibility interview to decide if your claim is eligible (if possible)
      • Give you documents about next steps

      If IRCC don’t make a decision about your claim during this appointment, you’ll be scheduled for an interview.

      What to Expect at your Interview

      You may be asked to attend an interview with IRCC as part of the refugee claims process. It’s at this interview when IRCC will decide if your claim is eligible.

      If your claim is deemed eligible, it’ll be referred to the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB).

      After the interview, you’ll be given a Refugee Protection Claimant Document that matches the decision made about your claim. If your claim is eligible, you’ll also be given a confirmation of referral letter that confirms that your claim has been referred to the IRB.

      These documents will help you:

      • Prove you are a refugee claimant in Canada
      • Get access to the Interim Federal Health Program and other services in Canada

      What Happens if My Refugee Claim Has Been Found Eligible by IRCC?

      If IRCC deem your refugee claim to be eligible, they will refer you to the IRB. The IRB will then send you a notice to appear for a hearing.

      You will be told in this notice:

      • Where to go for your hearing
      • When to get there
      • What time it starts

      After your hearing, the IRB will approve or refuse your refugee claim.

      If the IRB accepts your claim, you will receive ‘protected person’ status. This means you will be able to stay in Canada, and you will be eligible to become a permanent resident of Canada.

      If the IRB rejects your claim, you’ll have to leave Canada.

      However, you may be able to take additional steps to stay in Canada even if the IRB rejects your claim. For example, you may be able to:

      • Apply for a pre-removal risk assessment
      • Appeal to the Refugee Appeal Division
      • Apply to the Federal Court of Canada for a judicial review
      • Apply for residency on humanitarian or compassionate grounds

      We can assist you if your asylum claim has been rejected by the IRB. Reach out to one of our immigration professionals today for expert guidance and support on +1 844 290 6312, or contact us online today.

      What Happens if My Refugee Claim Has Been Found Ineligible by IRCC?

      If your claim is found to be ineligible, your claim won’t be referred to the IRB and you’ll be issued an enforceable removal order to leave Canada.

      What Are the Fees and Processing Times for Refugee Claims?

      There are no fees associated with making refugee claims in Canada, although you will have to pay for your own transport, any official documentation or additional work or study permits you apply for in Canada.

      Refugee claims in Canada can generally take around 24 months to process fully.

      How Can Total Law Help?

      Seeking asylum or making a refugee claim in Canada can be challenging. Not everyone is successful and there are stringent requirements that aren’t always easy to prove. At Total Law, we are committed to ensuring our clients have the right legal support and guidance to help through the process.

      We are expert, professional immigration lawyers dedicated to helping refugees and those claiming asylum settle and find pathways to residency. We can provide you with full and comprehensive legal representative support from the moment you arrive at the border to when your claim is accepted.

      We can help determine your eligibility to make a refugee claim, assemble your case and supporting documents, and help you submit your claim to the IRCC to ensure it has the best chance of getting approved.

      We can also guide you through steps toward getting settled in Canada, as well as standing by your side if your claim is refused and you need to make an appeal or explore other options to settle in Canada.

      If you would like to talk to one of our trusted immigration lawyers, don’t hesitate to get in contact with us right away. Call us on +1 844 290 6312, or contact us online today.

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                Frequently Asked Questions

                You may be eligible to apply for a work or study permit if you’re making a refugee claim and:

                • You need a job to pay for food, clothing and shelter
                • The family members you want permits for:
                  • Are with you in Canada
                  • Plan to work
                  • Are also applying for refugee status

                If you haven’t already submitted your refugee claim, you can select ‘Yes’ when asked if you would like to apply for a work permit when filling out your refugee claim. You won’t need to submit another application or pay any extra fees.

                If you’ve already submitted your refugee claim, you can apply for a work permit separately.

                With your work permit application, you will need to include a copy of your Refugee Protection Claimant Document and proof that:

                • You completed your immigration medical exam
                • You need a job to pay for your basic needs (food, clothing, shelter)
                • The family members you’re requesting permits for are with you in Canada

                There are no fees for these permits when you’re waiting for a decision on your refugee claim.

                If you wish to study in Canada, you must apply online for a study permit. You must have an acceptance letter from a designated learning institution to be eligible for a study permit, in addition to fulfilling all of the other eligibility criteria.

                For more information about these permits and how to apply for them, visit our dedicated pages for work permits and study permits.

                The Interim Federal Health Program (IFHP) is a program that provides limited, temporary healthcare and healthcare benefits to refugees in Canada.

                It can provide things such as basic, supplemental and prescription drug coverage to refugees, as well as in-patient and out-patient hospital services, assistive devices, and medical supplies and equipment.

                However, the IFHP does not cover the cost of health-care services or products that a person may normally claim under a public or private health insurance plan.

                If you need help or are having technical problems with the Canadian Refugee Protection Portal, you should contact IRCC through their web form online.

                Note that it may take more than 10 business days for them to respond to you.

                IRCC only uses the information you provide on the form to prepare for and conduct the hearing properly. Therefore, your refugee claim cannot be rejected purely based on what you write in the Basis of Claim form.

                You will be unable to make an asylum claim in Canada if you enter it from the land border it shares with the United States.

                This is because of the Safe Third Country Agreement, which states that refugee claimants are required to request refugee protection in the first safe country they arrive in, unless they qualify for an exception.

                This means that if you arrive as a refugee to the US, your asylum claim must be made in the US, as it is the first safe country you will have arrived in.