All you need to know as a refugee or refugee claimant in Canada
By Maria Montemayor
Posted on May 24, 2021
As reported by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), in 2019, Canada was ranked No. 1 (out of 26 countries) in refugee resettlement. Refugees tend to thrive in Canada, with 51 percent of working refugees employed in high-skilled jobs and 95 percent of refugees feeling a strong sense of belonging to Canada.
In order to become a refugee to Canada, individuals have to be identified and sponsored (if they are outside of Canada) or make a refugee claim (if they are inside Canada). Once in Canada, refugees have access to various programs and resources to assist them in their adjustment and success.
The Canadian refugee system
Canada has two main refugee protection programs: the Refugee and Humanitarian Resettlement Program and the In-Canada Asylum Program.
- The Refugee and Humanitarian Resettlement Program is for individuals who need protection from outside of Canada. The UNHCR and private sponsors determine who the refugees for resettlement are. An individual cannot directly apply to Canada for resettlement.
- The In-Canada Asylum offers refugee protection to individuals in Canada who fear persecution (convention refugees) or are in danger of torture or harsh punishment in their countries of origin (persons in need of protection).
Making a refugee claim
If you are inside Canada, you can make a refugee claim by writing an email to IRCC.RefugeeClaim-Demandedasile.IRCC@cic.gc.ca or by applying for refugee status at any port of entry when you arrive in Canada (land border, seaport, or airport).
If you make your claim by email, your subject line should say: “Request to make a Refugee Claim in Canada: (unique client identifier or passport number).” The body of your email should only include your name, email address, and your unique client identifier (UCI), which can be found on your visa or permit or your passport number. You’ll get an email asking you to sign up for an account. After that, you can complete the application package.
If you apply at a port of entry, you will receive the application package there. Once you finish your refugee hearing, the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB) approves or rejects your refugee claim. If your claim is accepted, you’ll receive the “Protected Person” status, which allows you to reside in Canada and apply to become a permanent resident.
What if my application is rejected?
If your refugee claim is rejected, you have several options to stay in Canada. You can:
- Apply for pre-removal risk assessment.
- Appeal to the Refugee Appeal Division (RAD) at the IRB.
- Request a Federal Court review within 15 days of the IRB decision.
- Submit an application to become a permanent resident on humanitarian and compassionate grounds.
All options are subject to eligibility.
Refugee programs and resources
There are many programs and resources available for refugees in Canada related to employment, training, mentorship, settlement, counselling, and youth development.
- Government of Canada Job Bank — a Canadian job board that also provides information on work eligibility and training.
- Jumpstart Refugee Canada — a non-profit providing mentorship, employment and entrepreneurship support, and workshops exclusively for refugees.
- MOSAIC’s Refugee Employment Services — a program providing one-on-one employment counselling and job development options for refugees.
- Skilled Immigrant Infocentre — a resource centre that helps newcomers locate information to find a job, start a business, or explore careers.
- Canadian Council for Refugees — a non-profit committed to the rights, protection, and settlement of refugees. It provides information and resources for refugees.
- Matthew House Refugee Hearing Preparation (RHP) Program — a program helping refugee claimants to prepare for their hearings with the IRB.
- Canadian Centre for Victims of Torture — a non-profit offering mental health counselling, settlement services, children and youth programs, language and skills training, and community support for refugees who are victims of torture and war.
- Lifeline Syria — a non-profit committed to helping Syrian refugees settle in Canada. It lists health care services covered for Syrian refugees by the Interim Federal Health program.
- Caring for Kids New to Canada — a guide for health professionals working with refugee children and youth. It lists community programs and resources available for positive youth development.