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Claim Refugee Status in Canada

You can make a refugee claim at the port of entry or within Canada when you arrive by land, sea or air.

You can make a refugee claim outside of Canada, if you are sponsored by the government or a private group.

The Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) makes decisions about refugee claims. They decide if you are a Convention refugee or a person in need of protection.

A Convention refugee is someone with a well-founded fear of persecution based on:

  • Race;
  • Religion;
  • Political opinion;
  • Nationality; or
  • Membership in a social group (such as, women or people of a particular sexual orientation).

A person in need of protection is someone who faces the following dangers if they returned to their home country or country where they normally live:

  • A danger of torture;
  • A risk to their life; or
  • A risk of cruel and unusual treatment or punishment.

Refugee Claims Outside of Canada

People who are sponsored by the government or by a private group to come to Canada are called resettled refugees. People in this category are granted permanent residency when they arrive in Canada. The 2 classes of resettled refugees are:

  • Convention Refugees Abroad Class
  • Country of Asylum Class

Resettled refugees are generally referred by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). They can also be sponsored by private groups.

Claiming Refugee Status at the Port of Entry

A foreign national can claim refugee status as soon as he or she arrives at a Canadian port of entry (the airport or border crossing). If the foreign national is found eligible to make a refugee claim, a date for the hearing of the claim will be provided right away.

Claiming Refugee Status from within Canada

If a person decides to make a refugee claim after entry to Canada, he or she can fill out the forms at any time (though delays should be avoided).

Your Rights

Refugee claimants, Convention refugees and persons in need of protection have certain rights and may be able to access services, such as health care, education and settlement support.

If your refugee claim is denied, you may be able to appeal the decision.

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