Claiming Refugee Status
Noura is a citizen of Saudi Arabia. She is married but has no children. Noura was only 12 years old when she was forced to marry her abusive husband. She is 21 years old now. Noura and her husband travelled to Canada as visitors two months ago.
Noura’s husband hit her with a belt when the neighbouring hotel room residents reported them to the local Canadian police. The police intervened and transferred Noura to the nearest women’s shelter in Hamilton, Ontario. Consequently, Noura has a fear of going back to her husband. She believes neither the Saudi authorities nor her family will protect her against him.
Noura has a genuine fear of dying at the hands of her husband shortly. She wonders if she could stay in Canada in an open society that respects women’s rights and freedoms. Noura wonders if she could claim refugee status in Canada.
Some refugees file for asylum at a port of entry or while they are in Canada. If their request goes through, they could eventually become permanent residents of Canada. They may even later become naturalized citizens. In this article, we review refugee claims both at a port of entry and inside Canada.
Claiming Refugee Status at a Port of Entry
- Decides whether they need to use the services of an interpreter or not. Many BSOs speak non-official languages of Canada, especially if you are crossing a vital port of entry, such as Toronto Lester Pearson airport.
- Asks you if you need representation. For example, you may hire a lawyer or an RCIC to help you.
- Reviews the IRCC, CBSA, and the police databases to see if anything related to your history or identity is available.
- If necessary, consults with the visa office responsible for your country of origin.
- Takes your biometrics.
- Searches and reviews your documents.
- Decides on how to proceed.
Generally speaking, there will be three scenarios at this point:
- The BSO gives you 15 days to complete all necessary forms (such as the Basis of Claim) and documents. They also refer you to the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB) for a refugee hearing and decision; or
- The BSO detains you for further investigation or interviews. Detention could occur because of inadmissibility reasons or lack of proper documentation; or
- The BSO directs you back to the United States. This only happens if you enter Canada via the US and are not exempted from the Safe Third Country rules.
Claiming Refugee Status inside Canada
If you are already inside Canada, you may visit an inland IRCC office and file for asylum. In this situation, you need to have all the necessary forms and documents ready. The immigration officer reviews your forms and documents, runs an interview with you and refers you to the IRB if you are eligible.
The Process of Refugee Claims
The process of refugee claims varies depending on your country of origin and how your first hearing goes. However, a smooth version of the process is the following.
- You attend a refugee hearing at the Refugee Protection Division of the IRB.
- If they approve your claim, you become a protected person.
- You will apply for Canadian permanent residency (PR). You may even add your dependent family members to the PR application.
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