Refugee Application

There are two main components to the Canadian refugee system:

  • Refugee and Humanitarian Resettlement Program, for people who need protection from outside Canada.
  • In-Canada Asylum Program for people seeking refugee protection within Canada.

The asylum program works to provide refugee protection to people in Canada who:

  • Have a well-founded fear of persecution.
  • They are at risk of torture or cruel or unusual punishment in their home countries.


Not everyone is eligible to claim refugee protection in Canada.

To make a refugee claim, an individual must:

  • Be inside Canada
  • Not be under a removal order

Canadian Immigration and Citizenship (CIC) will then decide if your refugee claim will be referred to the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB). The IRB is an independent board that decides immigration and refugee matters.

The IRB decides who is a Convention refugee or a person in need of protection.

Convention Refugee

Convention refugees are outside their home country or the country they normally live in. They are not able to return because of a well-founded fear of persecution based on:

  • Race
  • Religion
  • Political Opinion
  • Nationality
  • Membership in a social group, such as women or people of a particular sexual orientation

A person in need of protection is a person in Canada who cannot return to their home country safely. This is because they may face:

  • danger of torture
  • risk to their life
  • risk of cruel and unusual treatment or punishment

Safe Third Country Agreement

Canada has an agreement with the U.S. which states that people who want to make a refugee claim must do so in the first safe country they arrive in. In the case you enter Canada from the U.S. at a land port of entry, you must make a refugee claim in the U.S. In some cases, this rule does not apply (for example, if you have family in Canada).

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