A country signing the Geneva Convention is held responsible for providing protection and assistance to vulnerable people. To do this, however, applicants will have to prove that they have no opportunity to stay in their homeland or return there. Recently, more and more immigrants seeking shelter due to different circumstances are turning their eyes towards the Canadian coast. The main reason is an effective government program. But few people know that refugees in Canada have to go through a very difficult process before receiving this status.
In fact, there are several options of moving to Canada. Perhaps, you can check your biography for Canadian roots and suddenly discover a relative ready to reunite with you. Or, you can choose one of the many educational programs or immigrate as a professional worker.
By the way, the last option is very popular due to a variety of immigration programs in each province or territory and the list of occupations made available for foreigners. In addition, given the international obligations and humanitarian traditions, Canada is ready to offer protection to people who have a well-grounded fear of possible persecution or violence. The system consists of two components:
- Refugee Resettlement Project, designed for those seeking help outside of Canada’s borders;
- Protecting refugees making claims inside the country.
Convention refugees are those making a claim outside their national country. These are individuals seeking help from outside their home country and where they live temporarily. Usually, the grounds of seeking asylum in this group are racial, religious, political or any other type of persecution, such as membership in a particular social group.
The Country of Asylum Class
The Country of Asylum Class is for people who are outside of Canada and in refugee-like situations, but who do not qualify as Convention Refugees. A person is considered to be a member of the Country of Asylum Class if an Immigration Officer determines that they have been, and continue to be, seriously and personally affected by:
- Civil war
- Armed conflict, or
- Massive violation of human rights.
Those who are unable to find an adequate solution to such a situation within a reasonable time can apply for refugee status in Canada. Refugees in this Class must also be referred by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) or other referral organization, be sponsored by a private sponsorship group, or have the funds needed to support themselves and their dependents after they arrive in Canada. A person making a claim under the Country of Asylum Class must also prove that there is no alternative way to escape persecution they are facing.
The Source Country Class
Prior to 2011, refugee could also come to Canada under the source Country Class, which was for people who resided in a home country that had been designated as a source country. Countries listed as source countries were the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan, El Salvador, Guatemala, Colombia, and Sierra Leone. These refugees must have been victims of civil war or armed conflict, and be victims of serious deprivation of their right to freedom of expression or legitimate exercise of their civil rights pertaining to dissent or trade union activity, or be facing imprisonment as a consequence. They must also have been victims of persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership in a social group or political opinion in their country.
This class is not available for refugees anymore, however, unless a Source Country application has already passed the selection decision stage, existing Source Country applications are now being processed for eligibility under both the Convention Refugees Abroad and Country of Asylum Classes.
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Person in Need of Protection
The separate category is for individuals who can claim a refugee status while they are already in Canada. In this case, the application is referred to a Department of Migration and such applicants are moved to refugee camp while awaiting their decision. The application may be also filed at the airport. But in this case, the candidate will encounter a complex and lengthy process to prove he had no other choice. Such persons if sent back to their country, would be subjected to:
- A risk to their life
- Risk of cruel and unusual treatment or punishment if
- They cannot get protection from their own government
- The person’s life would be in danger in all parts of the country, even though the risk is not faced generally by others in or from that country
- The risk is not a result of legal penalties (unless those penalties violate international standards), and the risk is not a result of inadequate health or medical care
How to get refugee status in Canada?
If you have already entered Canadian territory, then you must apply to the Canadian Immigration Center and inform the immigration officer about your intention to make a claim to grant you refugee status. As a result of this claim, you will have to answer a few questions and fill out a special form and get prepared for the interview which will be assigned in about two weeks. Should you need to claim your status in the seaport or airport, then you have to do that without delay during the passport control because immigration officers don’t have the right to prevent any person from crossing the board making such a claim. If you don’t have a place to live in Canada, you will be provided with accommodation in a special refugee camp. The further procedure will look pretty much the same as described above. Eligibility Interview is usually held in a special department of the Immigration Center of Canada – Inland Refugee Processing Center. The interview is a decisive part of your claim and to make it successful follow these tips:
- Anything you have ever told immigration officers can be used at any stage of processing your case
- Provide only truthful information
- Don’t forget that each application will be reviewed on an individual basis. This means if you have arrived with a family, every member will be reviewed separately
- There are no age boundaries to make a claim. Even a child that comes without adults can make a petition to grant him refugee status
- Refugee claimants have the right to ask for an interpreter
According to the latest changes made in 2012, the processing time can be fast-tracked. It will depend on the country of origin of the applicant. If an applicant’s country is included in the list of expedited review, the decision will be made in 35-40 days. For all others, the review will take at least 60 days.
Which help can refugee claimants be entitled to?
Based on the government program, refugee status claimants should be entitled to the following benefits:
- Meeting at the port or airport
- Provision of temporary housing if necessary
- Assistance in finding the main place of residence
- Allocation of funds for the settlement
- Financial support
Usually, funds are allocated to applicants for a period of up to one year, and in some cases, until they can find work and support themselves.
The loan program is funded by the government of Canada and it is only allotted based on the needs of the candidate, as well as his ability to reimburse that amount. It can be used for the following needs:
- Medical expertise
- Registration of the documents required for moving
- Moving to Canada itself
- Payment of all necessary fees
In addition, asylum seekers may be eligible for urgent medical care, even if they are not already included in the list of people using medical services in their province.
It should be noted that there many voluntary groups in Canada, the so-called non-governmental organizations, which provide long-term support to individual groups of people who have applied for the refugee status. One of them is the association of “Women in Need.” For the most part, such organizations take on moral and emotional support, while the financial side of the issue would be borne by the government. It is common for churches to help refugees in Canada. Private sponsorship is also popular.
Documents you need to provide to make a refugee claim
You will need to provide the following documents:
- Travel documents
- ID documents
- Birth certificate
- Passport photo
- Completed application
Please note that in your application you need to set out in detail all the reasons and grounds for requesting refugee status in this country. Attach documents confirming the fact of persecution. In addition, keep all the documents concerning this matter, such as faxes, newspaper clippings, copies, originals, photos of all documents that can prove the fact of your persecution or the impossibility of your stay in your home country. Don’t throw away envelopes, receipts, tickets that can confirm your route of escape from the threat, or other seemingly insignificant details. You can contact a private company that will take care of your case.
When your refugee claim is denied
When the Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada denies a refugee claim, the candidate must leave Canada. In this case, he will be subjected to deportation under one of the orders:
- Exit order — you will have to leave Canada within one month from the moment the order is issued. If all conditions are met, the citizen has the right to enter the country on the basis of a visa
- Conditional deportation order – further entry into the state will be impossible for one year. When giving false testimony, the term is extended to two years
- Deportation order – applied to malicious violators of immigration rules. In this case, it will be possible to go back to Canada only with the written permission of the Immigration Department
The conditions stipulated in these orders, apply to family members of the immigrant unless they are Canadian citizens or residents.
Applying Through the Federal Immigration Programs
All federal programs designed for individuals seeking asylum in this country differ from other programs alike. Refugee claims are reviewed solely on the federal level. This means that after reviewing the claim, the candidate and his family will be settled in a region determined by the government. As a rule, these are provinces that don’t have their individual immigration programs. Within the frames of government support, the government allocates financial support to a candidate. The level of benefits depends on the program he is applying to – Convention Refugees Abroad Class, Country of Asylum Class or Person in Need of Protection.
As an alternative way of immigration, you can take advantage of one of the federal programs, such as Express Entry.
Canadian legislation allows most provinces to make decisions about refugee intakes on their borders, based on the agreements between local provincial authorities and the government of Canada.
The immigration can be implemented on other grounds, for example, professional or business.
Notably, the province of Quebec has a separate agreement about refugees. The selection of candidates is done in the view of an economic benefit for the region as a result of arrival of a particular foreigner. Moreover, to become a member of a local community, a refugee needs a sponsor. That person can be a Canadian citizen or a particular group of citizens willing to take on moral as well as financial support.
Finally, it’s important to keep in mind that even though the authorities take an active action to review every single petition from people seeking asylum in this country, only candidates with solid grounds will receive a positive response.