Refugee in Canada: Check Steps, Eligibility & Other Details

Refugee in Canada

Refugees, individuals who have fled their homelands due to a genuine fear of persecution, find themselves unable to return home, having endured or witnessed numerous atrocities. On the other hand, an immigrant is someone who decides to live in another country permanently. Refugees are forced to flee. In this article, we will talk in detail about the steps, eligibility criteria, and other details of how to immigrate as a refugee in Canada.

Table of Contents

Who Is a Refugee in Canada?

The status of a refugee in Canada is granted to individuals who have fled their home countries due to a genuine risk of harm based on race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion. Other potential dangers may include torture, risk to life, and the possibility of experiencing cruel and unusual treatment or punishment. 

If you believe returning to your home country or the country where you usually live could expose you to one of these risks, you may be eligible to seek protection as a refugee in Canada. 

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Canadian Refugee Protection Programs

Protection initiatives for refugees in Canada comprise two primary components:

1. The Refugee and Humanitarian Resettlement Program, is designed for individuals requiring protection from beyond Canadian borders.

2. The In-Canada Asylum Program, catering to those making refugee protection claims from within Canada.

Refugee and Humanitarian Resettlement Program

Refugees arriving in Canada have typically endured displacement and, often, prolonged stays in refugee camps. Identification of refugees for resettlement is chiefly handled by the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and private sponsors. Direct application for resettlement in Canada is not permissible; cases undergo a meticulous processing period after identification.

Private sponsors, including Sponsorship Agreement Holders, play a crucial role in resettlement. These sponsors, whether acting independently or in collaboration with community members, facilitate the resettlement of refugees in Canada.

The Blended Visa Office-Referred (BVOR) Program aligns refugees identified by UNHCR with private sponsors in Canada. Strict screening procedures, encompassing security, criminal, and health assessments, are mandated by law to expedite the resettlement process safely and efficiently.

In-Canada Asylum Program

This program extends refugee protection to individuals within Canada who face genuine threats of persecution or are vulnerable to torture or inhumane treatment in their countries of origin.

Not all individuals are eligible to seek asylum. There are some who are convicted of serious criminal offenses or those whose previous refugee claims in Canada were denied. Such people are excluded from this program.

Eligibility Criteria To Settle as a Refugee in Canada

To become a refugee in Canada, you must receive a referral. The United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), an authorized referral organization, or a private sponsorship entity can make such referrals. Direct applications to Canada as a refugee are not accepted.

To qualify for referral, you must fit into one of the following refugee categories:

1) Convention Refugee Abroad Class

You might fit into this group if you:

– Reside outside your native country.

– Face an inability to return due to a legitimate fear of persecution based on:

    – Race

    – Religion

    – Political opinion

    – Nationality

    – Membership in a particular social group (e.g., gender, sexual orientation, etc.).

Convention refugees can receive sponsorship from:

– The Government of Canada (government-assisted refugees).

– A collective of individuals or an organization (privately sponsored refugees).

– Also, a mix of both (blended visa office-referred refugees).

You can also qualify as a Convention refugee if you possess the financial means to sustain yourself and your family upon arrival in Canada. However, a referral from the UNHCR, a recognized referral organization, or a private sponsorship group is still required.

2) Country of Asylum Class

You may belong to this category if you:

– Reside outside your native country or your usual place of residence.

– Have endured significant impact from civil unrest or armed conflict.

– Have faced consistent denial of fundamental human rights.

Additionally, refugees under the country of asylum class can receive private sponsorship. You can also fit into this category if you possess the necessary financial resources to support yourself and your family upon arrival in Canada. Nonetheless, a referral from the UNHCR, a recognized referral organization, or a private sponsorship group remains essential.

Who Is Ineligible as a Refugee in Canada?

You are not eligible to qualify as a refugee in Canada if you

– Have an alternative secure option for protection, such as an invitation to resettle in another nation.

– Obtain citizenship in another country that guarantees your protection.

– Voluntarily opt to return to the country you departed from.

– The circumstances prompting your departure from your homeland cease to exist.

You need to be referred by either a refugee referral organization through the Government-assisted Refugees Program (GAR) or a private sponsor via the Private Sponsorship of Refugees program (PSR). However, individual Canadians cannot sponsor refugees independently. Those interested in sponsoring a refugee in Canada can participate through various avenues:

1. Sponsorship Agreement Holder (SAH): These individuals have undergone rigorous training and meet the said financial criteria. SAHs have the authority to directly sponsor refugees, often collaborating with faith-based groups or community organizations to facilitate the process.

2. Groups of Five Refugee Sponsorship (G5): Ordinary citizens can band together! Forming a G5 entails five or more individuals pooling financial resources and social networks to sponsor a refugee family. This approach fosters community engagement and enables individuals to make a collective difference.

3. Community Sponsors: This model broadens the support network beyond individual efforts. Churches, schools, or other entities can leverage their resources and knowledge to become sponsors, offering a comprehensive support structure for refugees.

4. Joint Assistance Sponsorship (JAS) Program: While specific to the US, this program enables groups to collaborate with resettlement agencies, sharing financial obligations and expertise. Through this partnership, refugees receive holistic support, lessening the burden on individual sponsors.

5. Blended Visa Office-Referred (BVOR) Program: Another US initiative, BVOR integrates government referrals with community sponsorship. Co-sponsoring refugees identified by the government, this program presents a distinctive pathway to resettlement.

These sponsorship avenues show the collaborative spirit of Canadian communities, ensuring refugees receive the assistance and support needed for successful integration.

Steps for Resettlement as a Refugee in Canada

Here are the steps for Resettlement as a Refugee in Canada when you are applying from outside of Canada.

Step 1: Meet the Eligibility Criteria To Come as a Refugee in Canada

As the Principal Applicant (PA) and on behalf of your family members, you must fulfill the following criteria:

1. Referral by a Designated Organization or Private Sponsor

You must be referred by either a refugee referral organization under the Government-assisted refugees program (GAR) or a private sponsor under the Private sponsorship of refugees program (PSR). Without a referral from these entities, you are not eligible for resettlement in Canada through this program.

2. Meet the Definition of Convention Refugee Abroad Class or Country of Asylum Class (Humanitarian-Protected Persons Abroad)

Convention Refugees Abroad Class:

– Afraid of being persecuted due to race, religion, nationality, belonging to a specific social group, or political beliefs.

– Reside outside Canada and are unable or unwilling to obtain protection from your country of nationality.

Country of Asylum Class (Humanitarian-Protected Persons Abroad):

– Severely affected by civil or armed conflict or a major violation of human rights in your country of nationality or habitual residence.

– Reside outside Canada and are unable or unwilling to seek protection from your country of nationality.

3. Demonstrate Lack of Durable Solution

Durable solutions entail:

– Voluntary repatriation.

– Local integration.

– Resettlement in a country other than Canada.

4. Undergo Medical, Security, and Criminality Checks:

You and your family members included in the application must undergo a medical examination by a doctor designated by the IRCC office overseas. Additionally, background and security checks will be conducted for all applicants. Past criminal behavior, violations, infractions, etc will be checked here.

Common Inquiries About Eligible Family Members:

– Principal Applicant (PA): The individual applying for permanent residence, typically the head of the family.

– Family Members: This includes the PA, spouse or common-law partner, dependent children, and dependent children of the spouse/common-law partner.

– Accompanying vs. Non-accompanying Family Members: Accompanying members intend to travel to Canada simultaneously with the PA, while non-accompanying members do not. It’s crucial to declare all family members in the application, even if they do not accompany the PA to Canada.

Failure to declare family members may result in application refusal and hinder family reunification efforts under the One Year Window provision.

Family Members

Your family members comprise your spouse or common-law partner, your dependent children, and any children who are dependent on them.

Member Details 
SpouseThis term denotes either of the two individuals (of opposite or same gender) in a marriage legally recognized in the country where it occurred, as well as in Canada.
Common-law partnerA common-law partner is someone who has been in a conjugal relationship with another person, regardless of gender, for at least one year without interruption.

A conjugal relationship is evidenced by a significant commitment between two individuals.
This commitment may be demonstrated through shared residence, financial and emotional support, joint parenting of children, or public acknowledgment of the relationship.

In cases where legal restrictions or external circumstances prevent common-law partners from living together or appearing publicly due to factors like civil unrest or armed conflict, they may still qualify and should be included in the application.
Dependent childrenThe eligibility of your child as a dependent is determined based on their age at a specific point in time, known as the lock-in date, typically the date of IRCC’s receipt of your application. To determine dependency, the child’s age on the lock-in date is considered, regardless of any age changes during processing.

Your child or your spouse/common-law partner’s child qualifies as a dependent if they meet the following criteria on the lock-in date:
– They are under 22 years old.
– They are not married or in a common-law partnership.

Children aged 22 or older may still qualify as dependents if they meet these conditions:
– They have relied on parental financial support since before turning 22.
– They are unable to support themselves financially due to a mental or physical condition.
Apart from age, dependents must continue to meet these criteria until the processing of the application is complete.
Dependent child of a dependent childThis refers to children of dependent children of the applicant and those of the spouse or common-law partner, if applicable.

What does “other family members” mean?

Apart from those who meet the definition of family members, no other relatives can be included in your application.

If you intend to bring other family members to Canada (e.g., adult children, siblings, parents, cousins), they must submit separate applications. They need to qualify as refugees in their own right and meet all statutory requirements.

Additionally, for sponsored family members, request your sponsors to list both the principal applicant (PA) and the other family members in each other’s Linked/Multiple Sponsorship Undertakings on the Sponsorship Undertaking form.

Step 2: Collect All Your Documents

These are the PDF forms you need to sign. You have two options to sign PDF forms:

1. Hand-written Signature: Print your name and sign within the signature box manually. Afterward, scan the signed document before submission.

2. Digital Signature: There are two methods for digitally signing the form:

   – Type your full name exactly as it appears on your passport within the signature box to sign the form.

   – (For PC users only) Complete the form and select “print to PDF”. This will generate a new “static PDF” version of the form that can be digitally signed. Once a static PDF version is created, no further changes can be made to the information. 


1. IMM 0008 (Generic Application Form for Canada)

   – Used by the Principal Applicant seeking permanent residence in Canada.

   – Complete directly in the PR portal by you or your sponsor.

   – If applying by mail, to be completed only by the principal applicant.

2. IMM 0008DEP (Additional Dependents / Declaration Form)

   – Only required if you have more than 5 dependents listed on the IMM 0008 form.

   – Not necessary if applying through the PR portal.

   – If applying by mail, to be completed only by the principal applicant.

3. Schedule A: Background/Declarations (IMM 5669)

   – Used by IRCC to gather detailed information on you and your family members’ backgrounds.

   – Complete in the PR portal by the principal applicant or the sponsor. Family members need not sign individually.

    – If applying by mail, to be completed by the principal applicant, and each family member 18 years or older.

4. Schedule 2: Refugees Outside Canada Form (IMM 0008 Schedule 2)

   – Describe events leading to seeking refugee protection.

   – Completed, dated, and signed by you, the principal applicant, and each family member 18 years or older.

Travel Documents for Refugees in Canada

1. Proof of Refugee Status: For Groups of Five and Community Sponsors, submit proof of refugee recognition by the UNHCR or a foreign state.

2. Photos: Provide recent photos of yourself and family members with names and dates of birth printed clearly.

3. Identity and Civil Status Documents: Provide copies of relevant documents such as birth, marriage, divorce certificates, and national identity cards.

4. Children’s Information: Include proof of custody or authorization for children under 18 from previous relationships.

5. Background Documents: Provide supporting documents for answers in the Schedule A form.

6. Travel Documents and Passports: Include copies of passports or travel documents.

Translation of Documents

Include English or French translations along with any travel documents for refugees in Canada, accompanied by an affidavit from the translator if they need to be certified.

Step 3: Start Filling Out the Form

1. Form: Generic Application Form for Canada (IMM 0008)

Fill out the Form IMM 0008. The Principal Applicant must fill it out.

Question NoQuestion Details
Application Details
1Select “Refugee” from the list provided.
2Choose “Outside Canada – Refugee” from the list.
3Write the total number of family members included in your application, regardless of whether they plan to accompany you to Canada.
4Select your language preference for correspondence, interviews, and interpreter requests from the options provided.
5Select the Province/Territory and City/Town where you plan to live in Canada from the dropdown menus.
6If you plan to live in Quebec, select “No.”
Personal Details
1Enter your family name (surname or last name) and given name(s) as shown on your passport, travel, or legal identity document.
2Check “Yes” if you have ever used any other names and provide details; otherwise, check “No.”
3Enter your Unique Client Identifier number (UCI) if known, otherwise leave it blank.
4Select your gender from the options provided.
5Enter your height in centimeters or feet and inches.
6Choose your eye color from the dropdown list.
7Enter your complete date of birth and place of birth, including city/town and country.
8Select your country of citizenship and any other countries of citizenship if applicable.
9Choose your country of residence from the dropdown list and provide details if you are out-of-status.
10Enter the date of your last entry to Canada and the place you last entered Canada.
11Indicate if you have lived in any country other than your country of citizenship or current country of residence for more than six months in the past five years, and provide details for each country.
12Select your current marital status and provide details if you have been married or in a common-law relationship before.
Contact Information
1Enter your current mailing address and residential address if different, including apartment/unit number, street number/name, city/town, country, province/state, postal code/zip code, and district.
2Provide telephone number details, including type (residence, cellular, business) and country code, with extension if applicable.
3Include a second telephone number if available and a fax number if applicable. Enter your email address and explain if you cannot provide a personal email address.
1Check “Yes” if you have a valid passport or travel document; otherwise, check “No.”
2Enter your passport or travel document number, country of issue, issuance date, and expiry date.
National Identity Document
1Check “Yes” if you have a valid identity document from any country and provide details.
US PR Card
1Check “Yes” if you are a lawful permanent resident of the United States and provide your USCIS number and expiry date; otherwise, move to the next section.
Education/Occupation Detail
1Select your highest level of education from the options provided.
2Enter the total number of years of formal education completed.
3Enter your current occupation and intended occupation in Canada.
Language Details
1Select your native language/mother tongue and indicate your proficiency in English and/or French.
1Answer the questions for each dependent regarding personal details, relationship, accompanying status, type of dependent, and other relevant information as applicable.

2. Schedule A – Background/Declaration (IMM 5669)

Next fill Schedule A – Background/Declaration (IMM 5669)

This form requires completion by the following individuals:

1. You, the principal applicant.

2. Your spouse or common-law partner, regardless of whether they will accompany you to Canada.

3. Your dependent children aged 18 years or older, regardless of whether they will accompany you to Canada.

Question No.Question Details
1Firstly, provide your complete family name (surname or last name) exactly as it appears on your passport, travel document, or identity document. Enter all of your given names (first, second, or more) exactly as they appear on your passport, travel document, or identity document. Do not use initials.
2Name in native language/script. Also, input your name using your native language or script, such as Arabic, Cyrillic, Chinese, Farsi, Korean, Japanese characters, Chinese commercial/telegraphic code, etc.
3Date of birth. Enter your date of birth. Also, if you are unsure of your complete date of birth, you can use a “*” (star sign/asterisk) to fill in the spaces for the unknown year, month, or day. For instance, if you don’t know your date and month of birth, you can write it as //1967.
4Include your father’s personal details, which should consist of:
– Family name (surname or last name)
– Given name(s)
– Date of birth
– Town/City of birth
– Country of birth
– Date of death (if applicable).
5Furnish your mother’s details, which should include:
– Family name (surname or last name)- Given name(s)
– Date of birth
– Town/City of birth
– Country of birth
– Date of death (if applicable)
6Answer each question by checking the appropriate box. Also, if you answered “Yes” to any of these questions, you are required to explain in the provided space. If additional space is needed, please attach a separate sheet of paper. For questions 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 and 12, when answering:
– Do not use abbreviations.
– Do not leave gaps in time.
– Do not skip periods. You must account for all periods.
7Enter the number of years of formal education completed at each indicated level. Provide details about secondary and post-secondary educational institutions attended, including: – Period attended – Type of certificate or diploma issued – Field of study. If no diploma was issued, write “N/A (Not Applicable)”
8Start with the most recent information. If working, under “Activity,” provide occupation or job title. Ensure specificity. If title does not reflect job clearly, briefly list duties. If not working, explain activities (e.g., unemployed, studying, traveling, retired, detained, etc.). If outside country of nationality, provide status in that country.
9If a member, enter names of associations or organizations, including: – Political organizations – Social organizations – Youth or student organizations – Trade unions – Professional associations. If not a member, write: “I have never been a member of an organization or association”. Do not write “N/A (Not Applicable)”.
10Enter any previous government positions held, such as:
– Civil servant
– Judge
– Police officer
– Employee in security organization.

– Country and level of jurisdiction (e.g., national, regional, municipal)
– Department or branch worked for
– Activities and/or positions held. If no government positions held, write “N/A (Not Applicable)”.
11Provide complete details about military or paramilitary service, including mandatory/compulsory service, for each country whose armed forces you served in. If not in military or paramilitary service, write “N/A (Not Applicable)”.
12Enter residential addresses where you have lived since your 18th birthday or past 10 years, whichever is more recent. Avoid P.O. box addresses. Be specific.

3. Schedule 2 – Refugees Outside Canada (IMM 0008 Schedule 2)

This form must be completed by:

– You, the principal applicant;

– Your husband, wife, or partner who you live with (whether they come to Canada with you or not); and

– Your children who are 18 years old or older and rely on you (whether they come to Canada with you or not).

You can download, save, and fill out the form on a computer.

General Application Information

Check the appropriate box to indicate if you are:

– The principal applicant; or

– A family member.

Provide the following details:

– Family name

– Given name(s)

– Date of birth

– Unique Client Identifier (UCI) or file number (if known)


Also, when completing Parts A & B, make sure to read the questions thoroughly and give detailed information. Providing precise details will facilitate the processing of your application.


List all family members on this form, even if they are not accompanying you to Canada, are deceased, presumed deceased, or their whereabouts are unknown.

For deceased family members, write “deceased” in the “present address and e-mail address” box.

For family members with unknown whereabouts, write “unknown” in the “present address and e-mail address” box.

Question No.Question Details
Question 1Please input your complete family name (surname or last name)
Fill it exactly as it appears on your passport, travel, or identity document. 
Enter all of your given names (first, second, or more) exactly as they appear on your passport, travel, or identity document. Avoid using initials.
Question 2Name in native language/script
Enter your name in your native language or script (Arabic, Cyrillic, Chinese, Farsi, Korean, Japanese characters, or Chinese commercial/telegraphic code, etc.).
Question 3Date of birth
Please provide your date of birth. If you are unsure of your complete date of birth, use a “*” (star sign/asterisk) to indicate the unknown year, month, or day. For instance, if you do not know your date and month of birth, you can write it as //1967.
Question 4Personal details of your father
Provide your father’s personal details including his:
– Family name (surname or last name);
– Given name(s);
– Date of birth;
– Town/City of birth;
– Country of birth; and
– Date of death (if applicable).
Question 5Personal details of your mother
Provide your mother’s personal details including her:
– Family name (surname or last name);
– Given name(s);
– Date of birth;
– Town/City of birth;
– Country of birth; and
– Date of death (if applicable).
Question 6Answer each question by checking the appropriate box.
If you responded “Yes” to any of these questions, you must offer an explanation in the designated space. If additional space is required, please attach a separate sheet of paper.
For questions 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, and 12, when answering:
– Do not use abbreviations.
– Do not leave gaps in time.
– Do not skip time periods. 
Question 7Education
Please indicate the number of years of formal education completed at each specified level. Additionally, provide information about each secondary and post-secondary educational institution you attended, including:
– Period that you attended the institution;
– Type of certificate or diploma issued; and
– Field of study. If no diploma was issued, mention N/A
Question 8Personal history
Give information about your personal background from the age of 18 or the last 10 years, whichever is more recent.
Start with the most recent information.
If you were working:
– Under “Activity”, enter your occupation or job title;
– Ensure that you provide a clear job title; and
– If your title does not accurately describe your job, briefly list your duties.
If you were not working:
– Explain what you were doing (unemployed, studying, traveling, retired, in detention, etc.).
If you were in a country other than your own nationality, please specify your status in that country.
Question 9Membership and association with organizations
Also, if you were or are currently a member of any association or organization, please list the name(s) here. This includes:
– Political organizations
– Social organizations
– Youth or student organizations
– Trade unions
– Professional associations
Also, if you were not a member of any association or organization, please do not use “N/A (Not Applicable)”. Instead, write: “I have never been a member of an organization or association”.
Question 10Government positions
List any previous government positions you have held, such as:
– Civil servant
– Judge
– Police officer
– Employee in a security organization
– Specify the name of the country and the level of jurisdiction (e.g., national, regional, or municipal);
– The name of the department or the branch you worked for; and
– Activities and/or positions that you held.
Also, if you did not hold any government positions, please write “N/A (Not Applicable)”.
Question 11Military and paramilitary service
Also, provide comprehensive information about your military or paramilitary service, including any mandatory or compulsory service.
Include details about your service in the armed forces of each country you served in.
If you did not serve in any military or paramilitary capacity, please write “N/A (Not Applicable)”.
Question 12Address
Please provide the residential addresses where you have resided since your 18th birthday or within the past 10 years, whichever is more recent. Do not use P.O. box addresses. Be as specific as possible.

4. Use of a Representative (IMM 5476) – Voluntary

Also, a representative provides advice, consultation, or guidance to you at any stage of the application process. By completing this form and appointing them as your representative, you authorize them to act on your behalf in dealings with the refugee boards in Canada namely, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), and the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA). It’s important to note that an authorized representative cannot sign forms or declarations for the principal applicant. Whether paid or unpaid, the involvement of a representative must be disclosed.

Step 4: Guidelines for Submitting Applications

For Privately Sponsored Refugees (PSR)

While you are submitting to the PR Portal:

  • Your role and process as the Principal Applicant (PA) will vary depending on whether you have access to the portal.
  • You cannot initiate the application within the portal; the sponsor must commence and finalize the application on your behalf.

Your sponsor may:

  • Invite you to the portal to actively participate in completing and uploading forms and documents.
    • You will be able to furnish your forms and upload necessary documents, including optional supporting documents.
    • However, you cannot apply yourself; your sponsor will handle the final submission upon completion.
    • You will not have access to view the sponsor’s documents and information.


  • If you haven’t received an invitation to access the application portal:
  • The primary sponsor will download the declaration and signature page in PDF format and forward it to you for signing.
  • The primary sponsor and/or group members will fill out digital forms and upload other necessary documents on your behalf.

For Government-Assisted Refugees (GAR)

Once your case is referred by the referral organization, the IRCC office abroad will provide instructions on how to directly submit your completed forms to their office.

What Happens After You Apply as a Refugee in Canada?

After submitting your application, several phases follow to assess your eligibility and facilitate your resettlement as a refugee in Canada.

Phase 1: Sponsor Assessment (PSR only)

During this stage, ROC-O (Resettlement Operations Centre – Ottawa) reviews your sponsoring group’s application to ensure it is complete and adheres to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA). If the application is complete and compliant, a case file number starting with “G” is assigned. 

If sponsorship is approved, you and your sponsors are informed, and your application is forwarded to the IRCC office overseas responsible for your country of residence. However, if the sponsorship is refused, the entire application is rejected, and you and your sponsors are notified accordingly. Applications submitted by mail are not returned.

Phase 2: Eligibility Assessment

Your eligibility is evaluated based on meeting the definitions of the convention refugee or country of asylum class. Each application is assessed individually, considering factors like family ties, sponsor support, language skills, employment prospects, and adaptability to life in Canada. Depending on the case, an interview may be required, along with biometric data collection for you and your accompanying family members.

Phase 3: Admissibility Assessment

This phase focuses on determining your admissibility to Canada, which includes passing medical, security, and criminality checks. You and your accompanying family members must undergo an immigration medical exam by a designated doctor, with the costs covered by the Government of Canada. Background checks are conducted, and it’s crucial to disclose any criminal history in the application forms (IMM 0008 and IMM 5669) to avoid application refusal.

Phase 4: Final Stage

Once you’re deemed eligible and admissible, the finalization process begins. For privately sponsored refugees, the destination is determined by the sponsor’s city and province. In referral cases, resettlement locations are decided by the IRCC. 

Transportation arrangements are made by IRCC in collaboration with partners like IOM and UNHCR. Various factors can delay processing, including incomplete applications, changes in family composition, or issues related to criminal, security, or medical concerns.

Phase 5: Arrival in Canada

Upon approval, newcomers receive support to facilitate their transition into Canadian life. This includes orientation sessions covering basic life skills, language training, housing, transportation, education, grocery shopping, banking, employment search, and other essential aspects of daily life.

Resettlement as a Refugee in Canada

Here is what you need to know while arriving as a refugee in Canada

Upon Your Arrival

Upon arriving in Canada, you will be met by an officer from the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), responsible for securing the country’s borders and ports of entry. You must possess a valid travel document, such as a passport or a travel document issued by the Government of Canada, along with your Canadian permanent resident visa.

The CBSA officer will request to inspect your passport from your home country, if applicable, and any other pertinent travel documents. Having these documents readily available will facilitate a smoother entry process into Canada.

Verification of the validity of your permanent resident visa will be conducted by the officer; the expiry date is indicated on the visa. It’s crucial to note that expired visas cannot be utilized, and extensions are not permissible. Therefore, ensure you utilize your visa within the designated timeframe.

You will receive your Confirmation of Permanent Residence (COPR) from the officer, which requires your signature. Expect a brief series of questions from the officer, akin to those answered in your Application for Permanent Residence in Canada. This step is to confirm your eligibility to enter Canada.

Failure to provide accurate or complete information at the point of entry, or inability to satisfy the officer regarding your eligibility, may result in denial of entry to Canada. Assuming no issues arise at the port of entry, the officer will authorize you to enter Canada as a permanent resident. Your permanent resident card will be mailed to your new address in Canada.

It’s essential to ensure the accuracy of the Canadian address listed on your COPR card, as your permanent resident card will be sent to that address. If you anticipate changing your address in the future or do not currently have a permanent address, promptly provide them with the correct address.

Disclosure of Funds

If you arrive in Canada carrying more than CAD 10,000, it is mandatory to declare this to the CBSA officer. Failure to do so could result in fines and seizure of the funds. These funds may include cash, securities (such as stocks, bonds, debentures, or treasury bills), bank drafts, cheques, traveler’s cheques, or money orders.

Assistance Upon Arrival

Upon your admission as a refugee in Canada, a representative from a settlement organization or sponsorship group will greet you at the airport. They will escort you to temporary accommodations where you will reside for the initial days. Moreover, they will assist you in locating a permanent residence.

After you arrive in Canada, various services are available to aid you in learning English and French, securing employment, and engaging in other daily activities.

Support for Resettled Refugees

Through the Resettlement Assistance Program, either the Government of Canada or the Province of Quebec extends aid to government-assisted refugees, furnishing them with crucial services and financial assistance upon their arrival in Canada, and facilitating their settlement process.

This income support is provided to refugees for a maximum duration of one year or until they achieve self-sufficiency, whichever comes first. Eligible clients who are unable to cover their basic needs receive financial aid through Canada’s Resettlement Assistance Program. The amount allocated to refugees encompasses provisions for shelter, sustenance, and other essentials also differs province-wise.

During the initial four to six weeks post-arrival in Canada, the Resettlement Assistance Program also offers the following services:

– Check-in upon arrival at the airport or other entry points.

– Assistance in securing temporary housing.

– Assistance in securing permanent accommodation.

– Orientation and integration assistance to familiarize refugees with Canada.

– Referrals to federal and provincial programs, as well as other settlement services.

Private sponsors are obligated to furnish financial and emotional assistance to the refugees they sponsor:

– Throughout the sponsorship period or until the refugee attains self-sufficiency, if this lies within the sponsorship duration.

– The sponsor’s support encompasses provisions for housing, clothing, and sustenance. While most sponsorships typically span one year, certain refugees may receive support from their sponsors for up to three years.

Blended visa office-referred refugees receive six months of income support through the Resettlement Assistance Program. Additionally, private sponsors extend financial support for up to six months and emotional support for up to a year.

Claim Refugee Status From Inside Canada

Canada extends refugee protection to individuals within its borders who fear persecution or danger if they were to return to their home country or habitual residence. Persecution may manifest in forms such as torture, threat to life, or exposure to cruel and unusual treatment or punishment.

Who Can Make a Refugee Claim?

To seek refugee status in Canada, you must:

  • Be physically present in Canada.
  • Not be subject to a removal order.

Eligibility Criteria for Applying as a Refugee in Canada

Upon making a refugee claim, authorities evaluate its referral to the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB), an autonomous body overseeing immigration and refugee affairs. However, your claim may not qualify for referral to the IRB if you:

  • Are recognized as a Convention refugee by another country where you could seek refuge.
  • Have obtained protected person status in Canada.
  • Entered through the Canada–United States border.
  • Previously lodged a refugee claim in another country, as verified through information-sharing.
  • Are inadmissible to Canada due to security concerns, criminal activities, or human rights violations.
  • Previously submitted a refugee claim found ineligible, rejected by the IRB, or withdrawn.
  • The IRB determines whether an individual qualifies as a Convention refugee or a person in need of protection.

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How To Apply for Refugee Status From Inside Canada?

There can be three situations that might apply to you.

1. Making a Claim In-Person

If you’re arriving in Canada, you have the option to make a refugee claim at any port of entry, including airports, seaports, or land borders. A Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) officer will assist you in completing the necessary application forms upon your arrival, typically at the port of entry. During this process, the officer will:

– Inquire about your situation

– Collect your documentation and proof of identity

– Obtain your fingerprints and photo (biometrics)

If your refugee claim is deemed eligible, the officer will provide you with:

– A Refugee Protection Claimant Document (RPCD), facilitating access to the Interim Federal Health Program and other Canadian services

– A confirmation of referral letter indicating that your claim has been forwarded to the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB)

– A basis of claim form and instructions for completing your medical examination

You must submit the basis of claim form to the IRB’s Refugee Protection Division office listed on your confirmation of referral letter within 15 calendar days.

If the officer schedules an interview for a later date, you’ll receive an information pamphlet, an acknowledgment of the claim letter, and instructions for your medical exam. Depending on the circumstances, you may have to return to the port of entry or visit an inland office for your interview. The officer may also advise you to submit your refugee claim online, providing detailed instructions for the process.

2. Making a Refugee Claim Online

If you’re already in Canada, you must submit your claim online for yourself and any accompanying family members simultaneously. When prompted, indicate that you are applying for more than one person and complete separate claims for each family member. Ensure that you use common characters in your answers and file names to avoid complications. Before commencing the online claim submission, prepare electronic copies of your documents.

For each individual making a claim, you’ll be required to:

– Respond to questions in the online application

– Fill out and upload a copy of the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada’s basis of claim form

– Provide a copy of the passport (if requested)

– Optionally, upload additional supporting documents

After initiating your claim, you have 90 days to complete and submit it online.

3. Continuing a Claim Started with CBSA

If you previously initiated a claim upon arrival in Canada, follow instructions from the CBSA officer. You may have been scheduled for a later interview date or instructed to complete your claim online. If your interview was rescheduled, attend as required. If directed to complete your claim online, follow the provided guidance.

Ensure you have the necessary documents and information, including your application number, UCI, and date of birth, which can be found on your acknowledgment of claim letter or refugee protection claimant document. Like with initial online claims, prepare electronic copies of your documents and follow the steps to submit your claim through the IRCC Portal.

In summary, arriving as a refugee in Canada is a comprehensive process. There are programs to sponsor refugees and the government helps too. It’s important to know how to apply and the help you can get. We hope this article helped you with everything related to immigrating as a refugee in Canada.

FAQ Related to How To Immigrate as a Refugee in Canada

Q. Will I have to pay for my sponsorship as a refugee in Canada?
A. As a refugee in Canada, you won’t be required to pay your sponsor for your sponsorship expenses. Your sponsor will cover the processing fees of your application and support your basic financial needs in Canada until you’re able to do so yourself. 

Q. Where can I settle as a refugee in Canada?
A. As a government-assisted refugee moving to Canada, you won’t always have the choice of where you’ll settle in the country. Instead, this decision is made through a matching process being facilitated by the Resettlement Operations Centre in Ottawa (ROC-O) in collaboration with IRCC. 

Q. How long does it take to get PR in Canada for refugees?
A. When chosen for resettlement as a refugee in Canada, you will be given a Confirmation of Permanent Residence (COPR). Your Permanent Resident card will be mailed to you a few weeks after you arrive in Canada.

Q. How long does it take for refugees to get citizenship in Canada?
A. Refugees who settle in Canada become permanent residents and can apply for citizenship after meeting eligibility criteria. Additionally, to be eligible, you need to have been physically present in Canada for at least 1,095 days within the five years preceding your citizenship application. During this period, you must have resided in Canada as a permanent resident for at least two years (730 days). 

Q. Can a refugee buy a house in Canada?
A. Once you arrive as a refugee in Canada and attain permanent residence, you have the right to purchase and own property, like any other permanent resident. 

Q. Can a refugee work in Canada?
A. Yes, refugees can work in Canada. Refugees who have been recognized as Convention refugees or protected persons by the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada can work in Canada without a work permit. However, refugees need a work permit to work in a different job. 

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