How to Apply for a Refugee Claim

Applying for a Refugee Claim in Canada

Refugee Claim in Canada

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People who fear persecution or are unable or unwilling to return to their home country due to risk of torture, punishment, or death can apply for refugee protection.  Canada maintains its humanitarian and international obligations while providing protection to people inside and outside of the country.


The Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB) is an independent administrative tribunal that decides immigration and refugee matters.  They decide who is considered a Convention refugee or a person in need of protection.  CIC officers determine if your claim is eligible to be referred to the IRB.

You may not be eligible if you have:

  • been recognized as a Convention refugee by another country to which you can return;
  • arrived into Canada through the U.S. border
  • been granted protected person status in Canada already
  • been denied entry to Canada due to security grounds, or criminal activity or human rights violations
  • made a previous refugee claim that was deemed ineligible for referral
  • made a previous refugee claim that was rejected by the IRB
  • withdrew or abandoned a previous refugee claim

Safe Third Country Agreement

If you enter Canada at a land border from the United States, you are not eligible to claim refugee protection in Canada.  This is due to an agreement with the United States where refugee claimants must seek asylum in the first safe country where they arrive.

There are four exceptions to the Agreement:

  • family member exceptions
  • unaccompanied minors exception
  • document holder exceptions
  • public interest exceptions

In addition to qualifying for one of these exceptions, a refugee claimant would still have to meet the minimum requirements for immigrating to Canada.

Convention Refugee

This category applies to a person who is outside of their home country or the country where they normally live, and is unwilling to return due to a fear of persecution based on one or more of the following:

  • race
  • political opinion
  • religion
  • nationality
  • membership in a particular social group, like women or people of a particular sexual orientation

Person in need of protection

This category applies to a person who is inside Canada and if that person were to be removed to their home country or country where they normally live, that person may be at risk of torture, cruel and unusual treatment or punishment, or death in that country.

How to Apply

You have two options when applying for a refugee protection in Canada:

  1. Once you arrive at a port of entry to Canada, like an airport or seaport, you can make a claim.  The Canada Border Services Agency receives these claims.
  2. If you are in Canada, you can make a claim at a Citizenship and Immigration Canada office.

Be sure that you have all the identification necessary on your person, such as a passport, driver’s licence, and other appropriate documents.

Before the claim is referred to the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB), an officer will decide whether your case is eligible.

You will receive a Personal Information Form which needs to be filled in fully and mailed to the IRB.

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