Crafting Refugee Claim Narratives: Your Guide & Template
Mahnaz, a 40-year-old advocate from Iran, faced a critical decision. Her stance on women’s rights in a challenging environment led her to seek safety in Canada. With a rich background in education and advocacy, she understood the importance of a strong refugee claim. However, she needed guidance writing her narrative for the Basis of Claim form. She wondered if there was a specific format to follow. Eager to tell her story effectively, Mahnaz embarked on this journey, hoping to contribute to a society that values freedom and diversity.
Table of contents
Basis of Claim Form Submission
Every individual seeking refugee protection in Canada must submit a Basis of Claim (BOC) Form. As mandated by the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB), this submission occurs at an inland office or within 15 days of a referral at a port of entry. Importantly, applicants who apply at the port of entry must send the BOC Form to the Refugee Protection Division (RPD) office address listed on their Confirmation of Referral form, regardless of any location changes within Canada. Nowadays, we submit most applications online via the new portal for refugee claims. However, IRCC intends to amalgamate all their online portals. So, this portal may eventually merge into the new upcoming portal.
What is a Refugee Claim Narrative?
Although the Basis of Claim (BOC) form offers space for explaining the reasons for filing a refugee claim, the provided spaces are too small and segregated to allow a natural flow of explanation in a clear, chronological order. Therefore, an additional complementary document could remedy this limitation.
A narrative is a separate explanatory document claimants attach to a BOC Form. Here, claimants provide a detailed account of their experiences and reasons for seeking asylum. Specifically, they should chronologically outline their background, the events leading to their relocation to Canada, and their fears of returning. The narrative must include detailed descriptions of incidents of persecution or harm and introduce the agent of harm. These details might relate to race, religion, nationality, or political opinion. Furthermore, a clear, coherent, and compelling narrative is vital. It substantiates the claim and helps RPD decision-makers understand the claimant’s situation and legitimate fear of persecution.
Critical Elements of a Strong Refugee Narrative
A strong refugee narrative is vital for a successful refugee claim. It must be personal, detailed, and credible. The narrative should start with a clear introduction of the claimant. This includes background, nationality, and reasons for fleeing their home country. This introduction provides context for the narrative.
The narrative’s core is in its detailed descriptions. It should vividly depict incidents of persecution or harm faced by the claimant. Critical details like dates, locations, and people involved are essential. The narrative must link these experiences to grounds for refugee protection. These grounds include race, religion, or political opinion. It’s also crucial to express the emotional impact of these experiences. This adds depth to the story. Consistency in the narrative is vital for credibility. The facts in the narrative should match all other information in the claim. A well-crafted narrative is both factual and engaging. It should compel the reader to empathize with the claimant’s situation.
Best Practices for Writing Your Refugee Narrative
Best practices for writing a refugee narrative focus on creating a clear, compelling, and credible account of your experiences and reasons for seeking asylum. Here are key points to consider:
- The structure is critical: Write your narrative in short paragraphs. Number each paragraph. Consequently, you may quickly refer to the paragraph numbers in your BOC form or at your hearing.
- Start with a Clear Introduction: Begin by introducing yourself, including your background, nationality, and the specific reasons for seeking asylum.
- Detail Specific Incidents: Describe specific incidents of persecution or harm, including dates, locations, and the people involved.
- Link Experiences to Protection Grounds: Clearly show how your experiences relate to the grounds for refugee protection (e.g., race, religion, political opinion).
- Include Emotional and Psychological Impact: Share the emotional and psychological effects of your experiences to provide depth to your narrative.
- Maintain Consistency: To maintain credibility, ensure that the information in your narrative is consistent with other parts of your claim, your future oral testimony, and the documents you present.
- Use a Chronological Order: Present events chronologically for clarity and coherence.
- Be Honest and Genuine: Stick to the truth, as fabrication or exaggeration can undermine your claim’s credibility. Moreover, you could face severe consequences because of misrepresentation.
- Proofread and Revise: Carefully review your narrative for clarity, coherence, and grammar.
- Use a Translator if Needed: If you’re uncomfortable writing in English or French, use a professional translator to ensure accuracy and clarity. However, ensure you trust the translator and that they know their job well.
- Seek Professional Advice: If possible, consult a licensed expert or a refugee assistance organization for guidance and feedback.
Refugee Narrative Template
Disclaimer: The following template is provided as a guideline and is not a legal document. It is intended to assist in drafting a refugee narrative but should not replace professional advice. Each refugee claim is unique, and narratives should be tailored to reflect individual circumstances.
- Full Name:
- Background (Education, Work, Family):
Reasons for Seeking Asylum:
- Date and Description of Key Incidents:
- Perpetrators and Your Relationship to Them:
- Specific Fears and Concerns:
Impact of Incidents:
- Emotional and Psychological Effects:
- Changes in Life and Circumstances:
Attempts to Seek Help or Protection (if applicable):
- Interaction with Local Authorities:
- Results of Seeking Help:
Why Returning is Not an Option:
- Ongoing Threats or Fears:
- Lack of Protection in Home Country:
- Why relocating to other regions in the country won’t resolve the issues
Why Canada is a Safe Option:
- Connection to Canada (if any):
- Expectations of Safety and Protection:
- Summary of Circumstances:
- Expression of Hope for Protection and Safety in Canada:
Remember, the effectiveness of a refugee narrative lies in its authenticity and detail. It is crucial to provide a truthful and comprehensive account of your experiences and reasons for seeking asylum in Canada. Moreover, you may click the following button to download the template in DOCX format.
Let us help!
If you need help writing a refugee claim narrative or other issues, fill out the following form. Remember that refugee claims in Canada mainly involve appearing at a hearing. Consequently, your best bet is to have counsel. Book a consultation with me to see if I am your proper counsel.
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Al ParsaiAl Parsai, LLM, MA, RCIC-IRB
Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant
Adjunct Professor – Queen’s University – Faculty of Law
Ashton College Instructor – Immigration Consulting
Author – 88 Tips on Immigration to Canada
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