Canadian Refugee Protection Programs

The value of human rights and freedoms is one of the best aspects of Canada.

Canada offers refugee and asylum seeker protection to people in Canada.

 This protection is offered to people who fear being persecuted and who cannot or will not return to their home country. 

The Canadian refugee system has two main parts:

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

Who is Eligible for Refugee & Asylum Seeker status in Canada

When a person who needs protection, arrives in Canada without another legal status to remain in Canada, they may be eligible to apply for refugee / asylum seeker status. Canada determines that a person needs protection under refugee status or asylum seeker status under the following conditions:

Refugees / asylum seekers’ removal will be dangerous

The first basic criteria is that if the person was sent back to their home country (or the country where they would normally live), they would be in danger.

Types of Danger the refugee or asylum seeker would be subject to

If a person, who goes back to their home country, is in danger of torture, or there is a risk to their life or may be the subject of cruel and unusual punishment or treatment, then they may be considered a refugee and eligible for asylum seeker status.

What is a Conventional Refugee

A convention is like a treaty or agreement between countries. These agreements define certain things such as, in the case of refugees, what a refugee is. To be considered a conventional refugee they must have a well founded fear that if they return to their home country (or the country where they normally live) they will be persecuted because of their race, religion, political views, nationality or because they are part of a specific identifiable group that is discriminated against (examples include: gender, disability, sexual orientation, etc)

People in Need of Protection

Canada recognizes people, other than conventional refugees, who need protection. They include people who would be subject to a danger of torture, a risk to their life or a risk of cruel and unusual treatment or punishment if they went back to their home country.

Who cannot apply for refugee status or asylum seeker status

Your refugee claim or asylum seeker claim may not be eligible for referral to the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada if:

  • this below);
  • You already have a protected person status in Canada;
  • The Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada already determined that you were not eligible for refugee status in Canada when you previously applied;
  • There are reasons on security grounds, your past or current criminal activity or your human rights violations, that you are not eligible;
  • People who are subject to a removal order from Canada;
  • You had a previous refugee claim that the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada rejected; or
  • Another country has recognized you as a Convention refugee and you can return to that country;
  • You arrived to Canada through the Canada-United States border (see more on
  • You had applied for a refugee claim but abandoned or withdrew that previous refugee claim.

The Refugee / Asylum Seeker Claim Process

If you are making a refugee claim, your claim will go in front of an Immigration Canada officers. That officer will review your refugee claim and decide if it is eligible to be sent to the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada. The Immigration and Refugee board of Canada is an independent administrative tribunal. It makes decisions on immigration and refugee claim matters. It is the Immigration and Refugee Board that determines who is a Convention refugee or a person in need of protection.

Why There is an Issue with Canada / US Border Refugee Claims?

The Canadian and United States governments have an agreement with respect to refugee claims. People who want to apply for refugee claim status must do so in the first country they arrive in that is safe. Because the United States is considered safe, You cannot make a refugee claim from that border. Your refugee or asylum seeker claim must be to the United States. There are certain circumstances that would be an exception to this rule.

Working with us can help you and your family put forward your strongest case to the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada. For a detailed discussion of your case, please email  or contact us for a preliminary consultation.