There are two ways an individual can apply for refugee protection in Canada:
At a Port of Entry
An individual may apply for refugee protection status at any port of entry in Canada. This includes any land borders, seaports or airports. You will tell an officer that you want to make a refugee claim. They will then decide whether the claim is eligible for referral to the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB) – Refugee Protection Division (RPD). If your claim is found to be eligible, you will have 15 days to complete and submit the application package to the IRB. The officer will also give you the date and time on which a member of the RPD will hear your claim.
At an Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) Office
If you choose to make your claim at a designated IRCC office, it is important that all the forms found in the application package are complete and ready for submission. An officer will review your claim and if it is found to be eligible, you will be given a date and time on which a member of the RPD will hear your claim. You will not receive an appointment for an interview with an officer until you can demonstrate that all of your forms are complete.
Completing the application
When making a claim for refugee protection, you must provide as much details as possible concerning your background, family, and circumstances or reason for making a claim for refugee protection. Failure to provide a detailed description of your experiences regarding each country you have a fear in could result in refusal of your claim. For example, if you are a citizen of more than one country, you must have a well-founded fear of persecution in both countries in order for your claim for refugee protection to be accepted. If you only have a well-founded fear in one country, it is quite possible that your claim will be refused because you can live safely in the other country where you hold citizenship. Also, if you leave out important details (i.e. dates, incidents, events etc.) from your application but then provide this information at the hearing, this could also result in the refusal of your claim.
What is the IRB?
All claims for refugee protection are heard before the IRB, specifically the RPD. The IRB is an independent administrative tribunal that makes decisions on immigration and refugee matters. A member of the RPD will hear your claim, assess the evidence provided and decide whether to accept or reject your claim for refugee protection. Factors the member will consider include:
- Are you outside your home country or the country where they normally live?
- Are you unwilling to return because of a well-founded fear of persecution?
- Is your fear based on one or more of the following grounds: race, religion, political opinion, nationality or membership of a particular social group (for example, women or people of a particular sexual orientation)?
- Would your removal to your home country, or country where you live would subject you personally to a danger of torture, a risk to their life, or a risk of cruel and unusual treatment or punishment.
There is no requirement for you to have suffered actual persecution, ill treatment or punishment. The RPD member will consider whether there is a serious likelihood or possibility of persecution or ill treatment. However, your claim will not be accepted if your fear is one of generalized violence faced by everyone in the country, if it is based on a need for medical treatment, or if you can obtain protection from the authorities in any part of your country.
We can assist you with your refugee claim application and represent you at the hearing. Contact our Canada Immigration Lawyers for a consultation by emailing us or by calling 416-847-3347.