A refugee is a person who has fled their own country because they are at risk of serious human rights violations and persecution there, are unable to return, and need protection.
Canada has two refugee protection programs to help meet this need:
- In-Canada Asylum Program – for people making refugee protection claims from within Canada
- Refugee and Humanitarian Resettlement Program – for people who need protection from outside Canada
The In-Canada Asylum Program
People arriving at a Canadian point of entry or already in Canada can apply for refugee protection by making a refugee claim to the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB). The IRB will hear a case and decide according to two protection categories.
- A Convention Refugee has a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, being outside of their country of nationality and being unable or unwilling to return.
- A person in need of protection faces the danger of torture, risk to their life or risk of cruel and unusual treatment or punishment if they return to their home country.
If the IRB finds that a person meets the criteria of one of these categories, they will receive “protected person” status. Then they can apply for permanent residence. If the case is rejected, they may be able to appeal to the Refugee Appeal Division (RAD).
The Refugee and Humanitarian Resettlement Program
The Refugee Resettlement Program helps refugees outside of Canada and their country of origin who need protection.
People must be referred by the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), a designated referral organization, or a private sponsorship group; they may need a refugee status document.