Who is a refugee claimant in Canada? | An intro for asylum seekers!
Canadian Immigration Act (IRPA) defines three paths to permanent residency. Two of those options are family reunification and economic immigration. Nevertheless, there is a third path that covers refugees. When you file for refugee outside Canada, the government may eventually resettle you in Canada. However, many people seek asylum at a Canadian port of entry or inside the country. The focus of the current article is the latter group. Consequently, we explore when an asylum seeker becomes a refugee claimant in Canada.
You could seek asylum either at a port of entry or inside Canada. Depending on the path you choose, the process could be slightly different. However, they lead to the same hearing process eventually.
Application at the port of entry
To become a refugee claimant, you need to go through the following process at the port of entry. However, the experience could be different for individuals.
- You mention your intention to a border officer.
- They transfer you to the immigration office and an officer interviews you. Of course, the intention is to make sure you are eligible to file a claim, not to decide on the merits of your claim. Moreover, they confiscate your passport and potentially other identity documents.
- The officer will take one of the following actions:
- Sit with you to fill out the initial forms,
- asks you to apply online, or
- asks you to go back to the port of entry at a later time for filling out the forms.
- Assuming you are eligible for the claim, the officer will refer you to the Refugee Protection Division (RPD). Of course, the role of RPD is to hear your claim. Therefore, you have 15 days from the referral date to submit the Basis of Claim (BOC) form to RPD.
Application after entry
After entering Canada, you could take the following steps to become a refugee claimant.
- Prepare the forms and collect the documents as much as you can.
- Open an online Refugee account and submit the application. However, if you cannot submit the application online, you may request an on-paper application.
- An officer will interview you for eligibility. They collect your biometrics and confiscate your passport and potentially other identity documents.
- Assuming you are eligible for the claim, the officer will refer you to RPD.
If you reach step 4 of any of the previous paths, you are a refugee claimant. In other words, a refugee claimant is someone who receives a referral to RPD. Another sign of being a refugee claimant is that you are in the possession of a Refugee Protection Claimant Document (RPCD). Moreover, you have access to the Interim Federal Health Program.
As a refugee claimant you may benefit from:
- The Interim Federal Health Program and other services
- Applying and receiving an open work permit inside Canada
- Upon receiving a Letter of Acceptance from a DLI, applying and receiving a study permit
- Applying for PR through inland spousal or common-law sponsorship (assuming the relationship is genuine and not primarily for immigration)
Most refugee claimants are subject to a removal order. However, CBSA won’t enforce it until you have a decision. If the decision is positive then you become a protected person. Consequently, the removal order becomes moot. However, if the decision is negative, you could face removal from Canada.
As a refugee claimant you must be aware of the following issues:
- You do not have legal status in Canada.
- IRCC won’t issue you a Refugee Travel Document.
- You may not count the days you spent in Canada for citizenship.
- You must report your latest address to the immigration authorities
If the authorities identify you as a Designated Foreign National, then you could even face detention. However, such incidents are extremely rare. Moreover, Canada does not have refugee camps. If you do not have a residence, they usually offer you government housing.
If you wish to become a refugee claimant in Canada, fill out our contact form. However, keep in mind that we do not deal with refugee resettlement. Meanwhile, you may book an appointment with me. For other immigration options, please visit our assessment page or contact us via the following generic form.
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Would you please fill out our free assessment form if you wish to visit or move to Canada? We will review it for free, but we will contact you only if we find an opportunity for you. Alternatively, you may book a consultation session. Consultation sessions are not free, but you will receive formal immigration advice from a licensed practitioner.
Al Parsai, LLM, MA, DTM, RCIC
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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This article provides information of a general nature only. Considering the fluid nature of the immigration world, it may no longer be current. Of course, the item does not give legal advice. Therefore, do not rely on it as legal advice or immigration advice. Consequently, no one could hold us accountable for the content of these articles. Of course, if you have specific legal questions, you must consult a lawyer. Alternatively, if you are looking for immigration advice, book an appointment.
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