Refugee and Asylum System

The world is experiencing a serious crisis with the numbers of refugees being displaced from their home nations. Mostly this is through serious conflict and war but also includes those refugees who are able to escape from persecution within their own country.

Canada is a nation built on immigration from around the world and as a diverse and multicultural nation has a long history of providing humanitarian relief that includes the permanent resettlement of both asylum seekers and refugees. 

There are two main aspects of the Canadian Refugee system:

  • For those people currently beyond the Canadian borders (External) there is the Refugee and Humanitarian Resettlement Program.
  • For those who have ended within Canada's borders (Internal) there is the In Canada Asylum program through which a claim for protection can be made.

Both programs are designed to provide a controlled system through which people who have had to leave their homes and countries to escape from persecution or war have a chance of permanent protection.

There is a strict application process with certain criteria to be met and some circumstances that will prohibit a successful application. Anyone with a history of serious crime would be prohibited for example.

In many cases, professional representation may be helpful through either an Immigration Lawyer or Consultant - should you decide to go this route please ensure any representative is in good standing with their professional body.

External Refugee Applications

Canada currently accepts applications through two main sources:

  • Referred from United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR)or another designated referral organization.
  • Be sponsored by a private sponsorship group or program.

Please note that the Province of Quebec selects its own refugees and asylum seekers with information found don the Government of Quebecs Provincial Website.

There are two classes of eligibility for resettlement within Canada for anyone applying as a refugee from outside the Country:

  • Convention Refugee Abroad Class
  • Country of Asylum Class

In both circumstances any applicant has to be referred through the two sources mentioned above.

Many applications will not be valid/successful due to various reasons - Criminal behaviour, citizenship of another Country where safety is assured and the applicants home nation becoming safe to live are some examples.

Should an application be successful there are 3 primary programs that assist in the resettlement process:

  • Government Assisted Refugees
  • Privately Sponsored Refugees
  • Blended Visa Office Refugees

All the latest information and application processes can be found at the Canadian Immigration website linked at the base of the page.

Internal Asylum Applications

Asylum seekers who arrive in Canada privately and then apply for permanent residency status due to a fear of persecution or danger should they leave are known as Internal applicants. 

All cases are referred by the Canada Border Service to the immigration & Refugee Board (IRB) in Canada who are an independent panel that assess the validity of each application.

There are many reasons the Canada Border Service will deny the application at the start of the process including being inadmissible due to criminal activity, security concerns, human rights violations and being subject to a previous application that was denied.

Note that Canada and the USA have an agreement where any refugee or Asylum application will only be valid in the first country landed in. No applications are accepted when crossing the Canada-USA border in either direction. This is called the Safe Third Country Agreement.

Full information for the Refugee and Asylum Seekers eligibility and application process can be found at the CIC website -

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