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Refugees in Canada: History of Refugees

Canada offers refugee protection to people in Canada who fear persecution and are unwilling or unable to return to their home country. People who are subject to a removal order cannot make a refugee claim.

Visit Canada’s the Immigration and citizenship website.

Information For Refugees

What Is A refugee?

A refugee is not an immigrant: while both immigrants and refugees seek residency in a foreign country, immigrants are people who have chosen to relocate to another country. A refugee is something quite different.

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Who can apply?

Canada offers refugee protection to people in Canada who fear persecution and are unwilling or unable to return to their home country. People who are subject to a removal order cannot make a refugee claim.

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Pre-removal risk assessment

Canada is committed to making sure that people are not sent back to a country where they would be in danger or where they would face the risk of persecution.

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How to apply

There are two ways to apply for refugee protection in Canada:

  • You can make a claim when you arrive in Canada, at the port of entry. This could be at an airport, a seaport or a Canada-United States border crossing. At ports of entry, claims are received by officers of the Canada Border Services Agency.
  • You can also make a claim from within Canada at a Citizenship and Immigration Canada office.

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Humanitarian and compassionate review

Any person can apply to stay in Canada on humanitarian or compassionate grounds. This includes refugee protection claimants whose claims are not approved by the Immigration and Refugee Board.

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Safe Third Country Agreement

Under an agreement with the United States, refugee claimants must seek asylum (protection) in the first safe country where they arrive. For example, if you entered Canada at a land border from the United States, you will not be able to claim refugee protection in Canada. Sometimes there are exceptions (such as those who already have family in Canada).

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After applying

If a Citizenship and Immigration Canada or a Canada Border Services Agency officer decides that your refugee claim is eligible, it will be referred to the Refugee Protection Division of the IRB for a hearing. You will have to complete and return your Personal Information Form to the IRB by the deadline you are given. The IRB will contact you with the date and location for your hearing.

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