Understand the Refugee Process

A refugee is a person who has fled their home country because they are at risk of serious human rights violations and persecution in their home country, are unable to return, and need protection.

If you have arrived at a Canadian point of entry or are already in Canada, you can apply for refugee protection by making a refugee claim to the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB). The IRB is an independent administrative tribunal that decides if a person qualifies for refugee protection.

The IRB will hear your case and decide according to two protection categories. They will either decide that you are:

  • Convention Refugee; this is someone who has a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, who is outside of their country of nationality and unable or unwilling to return; or
  • person in need of protection; this is someone who 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.
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If the IRB finds that you meet the criteria of one of these categories, you will receive "protected person" status. You can then apply for permanent residence. If your refugee claim case is rejected, you may be able to appeal to the Refugee Appeal Division (RAD).

People seeking asylum upon entry to Canada from the United States usually cannot make a refugee claim because of the Canada-US Safe Country Agreement.