If you are outside your home country and are afraid to return because you are in danger of serious harm because of your race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership of a particular social group, or if you risk cruel or unusual punishment, torture or death, you can apply for asylum in Canada.

How to apply?

There are two ways to file an asylum application in Canada:

  1. At an official Port of Entry
  2. Within Canada at the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC)office.

In both processes, Canadian officials will determine whether you are eligible to make an asylum claim. If deemed eligible, your case will be referred to the Immigration and Refugee Commission of Canada, which will determine whether you are granted refugee status in Canada after a court hearing.

The Canadian government has placed restrictions on refugee claims made at the official Port of Entry. Under the Canada-US Safe Third Country Agreement (STCA), persons arriving in Canada from the US cannot make a refugee claim in Canada. (STCA), persons arriving in Canada from the US cannot make a refugee claim in Canada; unless they qualify for an exception to the Agreement. These exceptions include:

  • Have a valid Canadian visa, work permit or study permit.
  • Be under 18 years of age with neither parent in the United States.
  • Have close relatives living in Canada.
  • Facing the death penalty in your own country or in the US
  • Be a stateless person ordinarily resident in the U.S.

The Safe Third Country Agreement recognises the following family members for the purposes of the exception: spouse, legal guardian, son or daughter, father or mother, sister or brother, grandfather or grandmother, grandson or granddaughter, uncle or aunt, niece or nephew, common-law partner, and same-sex spouse with a legal status in Canada. If you are not sure whether you fall under one of the STCA exemptions, we will be able to offer you the best advice.

What happens after I apply for asylum?

Step 1:

Eligibility interview

After you apply for asylum at the border or in Canada, government officials will conduct an interview to decide whether you are eligible to have your case considered by the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB). When referring to "eligibility", government officials look at a number of factors. Your refugee claim may be ineligible to be referred to the IRB for a hearing in the following cases:

- has been recognised as a Convention refugee by another country to which he/she can return.
- has already been granted protected person status in Canada.
- arrived across the border from Canada to the United States.
- is inadmissible to Canada for security reasons, or because of criminal activity or human rights violations.
- has made a previous refugee claim that was deemed ineligible.
- has made a previous refugee claim that was rejected by the IRB.
- has abandoned or withdrawn a previous refugee claim.

If you apply for asylum at an official border crossing point, border officials will assist you in completing the application forms, and if you are determined to be eligible to proceed to the next stage, you will be given a very important document called the Basis of Claim (BOC), a form that you have to send to the Immigration and Refugee Commission of Canada within 15 days after you have initially submitted your asylum claim.

The BOC form requires basic biographical information, but you should also include the reasons why you are afraid to return to your home country, why the police in your home country are unable or unwilling to help you and why you cannot move to another part of the country to be safe. It is very important that you seek the help of a specialist in completing the BOC form.

To apply for asylum within Canada (rather than at the border), you must go to the appropriate Immigration, Refugees, Citizenship Canada (IRCC) office with all asylum application forms, including the BOC, already completed.

You may also have heard about entering Canada through the border, but not at an official entry point.

If you cross the border this way, you will be arrested and then go through the eligibility process. Make sure you understand Canada's asylum system. People who are denied refugee protection will be returned to their country. If you are denied refugee protection, you should get advice about your options.

It is advisable to lodge an asylum application at an official point of entry into Canada and to respect Canadian law.

Step 2

Referral to the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB)

Once you are found eligible to make an asylum claim, your file will be forwarded to the IRB for a hearing to decide whether you qualify for refugee protection in Canada. The IRB is an independent tribunal and acts as a decision-maker on refugee status in Canada. Before your hearing, you will need to present evidence to support your case. Evidence could consist of a wide range of documents or information. This could be, for example, a doctor's note showing that you received medical help after being injured in your home country, a membership card to a political organisation, or testimony from friends, family or others in the form of a letter or specific detailed information. For example, a news article or report that supports your case. It is highly recommended that you seek legal advice and/or assistance with this process.

Contact us to help you in this process.

Step 3

Reception of the decision

If you receive a positive decision on your asylum claim and are granted refugee status, you can apply for permanent residence in Canada.

If your refugee claim is refused, you have the right to appeal the decision. You will have 15 calendar days to notify the IRB Refugee Appeals Division or the Federal Court of Canada that you wish to appeal the negative asylum decision, so that your claim can be considered at a second instance. It is important to seek specialist advice to ensure that your appeal is sent correctly and to the appropriate institution.

Do you have any doubts? We can advise you

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