Q. I have a friend from Somalia who lives now in the United States. He would like to come to Canada and apply for refugee status at the border. Can this be done and what are his chances?
A. Canada’s legislation regarding refugees takes into consideration its international obligations as signatory to: the 1951 United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and the 1967 Protocol; and the Convention against Torture (Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment);
Canada has developed a front-end procedure for all refugee claimants, at each land border and in the airports. This procedure is mandatory for each claimant, meaning an in-person interview/claim, security and criminal background checks. To make a claim, the applicant must submit in person, in writing and in front of an officer. The refugee claimant has the burden of proof, meaning that he/she must show that the claim is eligible for refugee protection. A claim is ineligible if the person:
has already been granted refugee protection in Canada or in another country; has previously been refused refugee protection in Canada; came to Canada from, or through, a designated safe third country where you could have claimed refugee protection, or is a security risk, have violated human or international rights, have committed a serious crime or have been involved in organized crime. In your friend’s case, we do not know whether he claimed refugee status there or not. USA is considered a safe third country and as per the USA-Canada safe third country agreement, he must have claimed refugee in the USA first, before coming to Canada. As we are not clear about his status, he might or might not be allowed to claim refugee in Canada. In the next edition, I will expand a little bit on the reasons for refugee protection.