Who may not file for refugee in Canada

Canada accepts thousands of refugee claims every year. However, not everyone may file for asylum in our country. This article explores those who may not file for refugee in Canada.

The refugee claim process inside Canada

You claim refugee in Canada in two different ways:

  • At the port of entry (upon arrival): You express your decision to a border officer, and they will initiate the process.
  • After entry: You visit an IRCC or CBSA office inside Canada and file for asylum.

I have explained these two options in a separate article. When it comes to eligibility, the main difference between these two options is the concept of the Safe Third Country.

Who may not file for refugee based on the Safe Third Country agreement

If you are travelling from the US to Canada, you may not file for refugee in the following circumstances:

  • At a US-Canada land crossing,
  • when entering by train, or
  • at a Canadian airport only if the US has refused your refugee claim. However, you must be transiting through Canada after the US authorities have deported you.

Despite the Safe Third Country Agreement with the US, you may still apply for refugee at the port of entry. Nonetheless, this exemption applies to the following circumstances only:

  • Having a family member in Canada
  • Being an unaccompanied minor
  • Holding certain documents (e.g., a Canadian TRV, study permit, or work permit)
  • Meeting the public interest exceptions requirements

Keep in mind Canada only has this agreement with the United States. Therefore, the agreement does not apply to other countries. Also, regardless of this agreement, you may file for refugee if entering Canada irregularly (i.e., not through a port of entry) or applying while inside Canada.

Who may not file for refugee based on other issues

Sometimes the Safe Third Country does not apply to the applicant. However, the applicant may not file for refugee if they are subject to a removal order. Nonetheless, the person may file for refugee at an admissibility hearing if the board member has not issued the removal order yet.

Filing the claim but no referrals

The refugee applicant file the claim with a CBSA or an IRCC officer. However, the ultimate decision-maker on refugee claims is the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB). Therefore, the officer will review the case and refers it to IRB. The officers may refuse to refer the claim to IRB under the following circumstances:

  • The applicant may not file for refugee because of the Safe Third Country agreement or because they are subject to a removal order.
  • The person is already a Canadian citizen.
  • Another country has already offered the person protection as a refugee.
  • The applicant has already received protection in Canada.
  • Another country has received your refugee claim. However, that country must have an agreement with Canada to share immigration information. Subsequently, that country has informed Canada about the other claim.
  • IRCC or CBSA considered the person ineligible to file a refugee claim in the past.
  • The person is inadmissible to Canada on the grounds of:
  • IRB has refused your other refugee claim in the past.
  • The applicant withdrew or abandoned a previous refugee claim.

Of course, if the authorities do not refer the applicant to IRB, then the person won’t have a chance of becoming a refugee in Canada.

Putting a refugee claim on hold

Sometimes the authorities suspect a person may not file for refugee. However, they are not 100% sure. Consequently, they put the referral on hold, and they tentatively treat the person as if they may not file for refugee. Here are the two potential scenarios:

  • The applicant is subject to an inadmissibility hearing on the grounds of:
  • The Canadian authorities have charged the applicant for an offence with a maximum imprisonment term of at least ten years. Nevertheless, a court has not convicted the person yet.

Let us help!

If you intend to file for refugee in Canada, click here. We will review if you may not file for refugee and also your eligibility. Alternatively, please book a consultation session with me to speed up the process. Of course, for other immigration options, please fill out our assessment form.

Relevant article: Who is a refugee claimant in Canada?

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Al Parsai, MA, DTM, RCIC
Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant
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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