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.

Refugee process 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.

  1. You mention your intention to a border officer.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

  1. Prepare the forms and collect the documents as much as you can.
  2. Open an online Refugee account and submit the application. However, if you cannot submit the application online, you may request an on-paper application.
  3. An officer will interview you for eligibility. They collect your biometrics and confiscate your passport and potentially other identity documents.
  4. Assuming you are eligible for the claim, the officer will refer you to RPD.

Who is a refugee claimant?

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.

The benefits of being a refugee claimant

As a refugee claimant you may benefit from:

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.

The issues of being a refugee claimant

As a refugee claimant you must be aware of the following issues:

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.

Let us help!

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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    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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    Al Parsai

    Al Parsai is a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant (class L3 RCIC-IRB – Unrestricted Practice) in Toronto, Canada. He is an adjunct professor at Queen's University Law School and Ashton College. Al, who holds a Master of Laws (LLM) degree from York University, is a member of CICC and CAPIC organizations. Al, the CEO of Parsai Immigration Services, has represented thousands of applicants from more than 50 countries to the immigration authorities since January 2011.

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