Refugees & Asylum Seekers


Canada is ranked among the top 10 countries in terms of the index of freedom. While Canadians experience the luxury of a quality life, many parts of the world have not been so fortunate. Many reasons cause people to decide on immigrating for a better life. However, in some cases, this decision is more implied than chosen. An individual may leave their home country by force due to war or other life-threatening issues. With that in mind, the UN defines a refugee as someone who has been forced to flee their country because of persecution, war, or violence.

Canada and Global Aid

While Canada is known for its international aid, asylum seekers need legitimate reasons to be granted entry. Over 60 thousand asylum claimants were processed by the CBSA and IRCC in 2019. Although all cases are important, they would not be treated the same. Asylum seekers fleeing war in Syria and Iraq will be processed differently than those left homeless by the earthquake in Haiti.

It is important to know that while international law recognizes seeking asylum, countries are not obligated to provide it, hence why asylum cannot be guaranteed and countries might only provide temporary protection.

Arriving in Destination Country

Under the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, there is no penalty for entering a country illegally if coming from a place of danger and having self-reported to the authorities. In Canada, the Refugee Protection Division (RPD) and the Refugee Appeal Division (RAD) assess refugee applications to determine refugee status. To make a refugee claim, one must be in Canada and not subjected to an order of removal. The claim can be made at any port of entry in Canada which means airport, seaport, or land border. If outside Canada, the individual may need referral from an organization such the United Nations. For the matching process, the resettlement centre works with local offices to find a suitable city destination for the refugees based on things such as their language, whether they have family and friends in Canada, cultural and religious communities in the area, medical needs, and availability of settlement services.

Eligibility Requirements

To be eligible to come to Canada as a refugee:

  • Referred by a refugee referral organization or private sponsors
  • Meet the definition of Convention Refugee Abroad Class or Country of Asylum Class
  • Show that there is no durable solution
  • Pass medical, security, and criminality checks

The Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB) foresees refugee claims and may deem an individual ineligible if they:

  • are recognized as a Convention refugee by another country that you can return to
  • were granted protected person status in Canada
  • arrived via the Canada–United States border
  • have made a refugee claim in another country, as confirmed through information-sharing
  • are not admissible to Canada on security grounds or because of criminal activity or human rights violations
  • made a previous refugee claim that was not found eligible
  • made a previous refugee claim that was rejected by the IRB
  • abandoned or withdrew a previous refugee claim

There are two types of applicants. Those outside their home country and unable to return are Convention refugees. Reasons for not being able to return include persecution based on race, religion, political views, nationality, and sexual orientation. A person who is already in Canada and cannot return to their home country due to the danger of torture, risk of their life, or risk of cruel or unusual treatment or punishment is a person in need of protection.

Denied Refugee Status

If denied refugee status, the individual may claim that returning to their home country would jeopardize their life and request a judicial review.

Granted Refugee Status

If the request is accepted and the individual is granted refugee status, the next step will be to apply for Canadian permanent residency. Refugees often need assistance settling in their new country and the government is aware of the challenges. Therefore, social programs such as the Resettlement Assistance Program are in place to help refugees adjust to life in Canada. As part of this program, the government provides services and income up to one year or until they can support themselves sooner. Under the program, the applicants receive the following for the first 4 to 6 weeks:

  • welcoming them at the airport or other port of entry
  • helping to find a temporary place to live
  • helping to find a permanent place to live
  • assessing their needs
  • information and help getting to know Canada, and referrals to other federal and provincial programs, and to other settlement services.


Rejection. Refusal. Damage control. These are things you hopefully would not face with hiring an immigration lawyer. Although hiring a lawyer is not required by law, the immigration process is difficult and often confusing. By consulting an immigration lawyer, you can put your mind at ease and let the professionals help you along the journey.