Refugees and Persons in Need of Protection

Refugees are people who have fled their countries because of a well-founded fear of persecution, and who are therefore unable to return home. Many refugees come from war-torn countries and have seen or experienced unthinkable horrors.  Determining refugee status and applying to obtain it is a complex process.

Refugee applications are time-sensitive. If you have been subjected to persecution or are at risk of torture or death, you should apply for refugee status as soon as possible.   We strongly encourage you to contact one of our immigration lawyers linked below if you want to apply for refugee status. Our lawyers have conducted many successful refugee hearings and appeals over the years.

To be a refugee, you need to satisfy the following criteria:

  • You are outside your home country or the country where you normally live; and
  • Persecution must be based on one of the following:
    1. Race;
    2. Religion;
    3. Political Opinion;
    4. Nationality; or
    5. Membership in a particular social group.

To be a Person in Need of Protection, you need to meet the following criteria:

If you had to return to your home country or country where you normally live, you would face:

  • a danger of torture;
  • a risk to your life; or
  • a risk of cruel and unusual treatment or punishment.

The risk to life or cruel and unusual treatment or punishment:

  • Has to be faced by you personally and not just generally by other people in your country;
  • Cannot be a result of government laws (for example, it cannot be a punishment for a crime). Please note that the risk can be a result of government laws if these laws violate international standards;
  • Cannot be due to inadequate health or medical care; AND
  • Has to be one for which there is no state protection available.

What is the process for applying for refugee status?

There are many different procedures to apply for refugee status:

What is the Hearing Process like?

After making your paper application, you will be assigned a hearing date within 60 days. At this hearing, a member of the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) will ask you questions about your refugee claim. If you have a lawyer, your lawyer will also be able to ask you questions to help explain your claim. Afterwards, the IRB member may ask you more questions. After questioning is complete, your lawyer can make oral submissions on your behalf on why you are legally entitled to refugee status or are a person in need of protection.

Sometimes, the IRB member will be ready to make a decision immediately after the hearing. Other times, the IRB member will need more time to make the decision and will issue a written decision a few weeks after your hearing. We cannot predict what will happen in your case.

What can a lawyer do to assist me?

We can guide you through the paper application process. Because we have seen many refugee cases before, we can explain to you what evidence you may need to obtain to help prove your case. We conduct our own country condition research and can draft both written and oral arguments to assist you at your hearing. We know how to prepare you for questioning so that you can be comfortable during your hearing. We are well-versed in refugee law and we specialize in applying your situation to the law.

Once you fail a refugee claim, if you decide to try again, it may be harder.

I would like to sponsor a refugee to come to Canada. Can I do this?

There are different types of refugee sponsorship programs available. We have listed some of the programs below with links to publically available information from Citizenship and Immigration Canada's website. Our immigration lawyers can assist you with this process, which can be complex and time-consuming:

  • Group of 5 Sponsorship
  • Community Sponsors
  • Sponsorship Agreement Holders and their Constituent Groups

I failed my refugee claim. What are my options?

 If you fail your refugee claim, a removal order will be issued against you. You have the following options:

  • Apply to the Refugee Appeal Division at the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada;
  • Apply to the Federal Court of Canada for judicial review;
  • Apply for a Pre-removal Risk Assessment (PRRA); or
  • Apply for permanent residence under Humanitarian and Compassionate grounds.

You have 30 days from the day you receive your written reasons for the RPD decision to perfect your appeal by filing an Appellants Record. If you wish to apply to the Federal Court of Canada, you have 15 days following a negative IRB decision to make your application.

You should contact a lawyer to assist you with these processes. The rules are strict, and if you are unsuccessful, you will be removed from Canada.

What is a Pre-removal Risk Assessment?

If you are facing removal from Canada, you may be eligible for a pre-removal risk assessment. An officer will determine whether you are eligible to apply for a pre-removal risk assessment (PRRA). If successful, the applicant will gain status as a protected person in Canada.

Not all refugees are able to apply for a PRRA. If you have made a refugee claim or you previously applied for a PRRA and your application was rejected, abandoned or withdrawn, you may not apply for a PRRA until at least 12 months have passed. There are exceptions to this rule.

If you are eligible to apply for PRRA, you will be given an application form and guide. You will have fifteen (15) days to apply with your application forms. You have another 15 days after the forms are submitted to submit detailed submissions outlining why you are at risk if you return to your home country. We specialize in drafting these submissions.

If you would like more information about the Refugee or PRRA process, please contact us.