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Refugee Protection

How Long Does It Take to Be Assessed as a Refugee?

Q.I have a good friend who is in the USA illegally and intends to come to Canada and claim protected person status. I understand the procedure takes a long time and the applicants have to wait long time until their fate is decided. Is this true?

The projection for 2008 is that approximately 38,000 people will claim refugee/protected person status in Canada. In an effort to streamline the process, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) together with the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) introduced a new integrated form that gathers information in one document. In an effort to fast track the procedure, the officers at the refugee intake process will assess the admissibility and eligibility of each person claiming refugee status in Canada, and not assess whether the claim is well-founded, as this assessment will be performed by the Refugee Protection Division as part of the refugee determination process. Your friend however may be subject to the Safe Third Country Agreement where persons entering Canada from the USA and claiming protection are ineligible in certain circumstances to claim. The backlog for refugee cases is growing and cases are taking a year to two to schedule depending upon the region in Canada and the country from which the claimant is fleeing. Please consult a lawyer before making the claim.

Last, this is my final article for 2008. I am amazed and flattered with the hundreds of questions I receive each week and the many kind words that have been expressed. I am delighted the column is helping so many people. Keep asking and I will keep answering! I, on behalf of myself and 24 Hours, wish everyone peace, health and prosperity over the holiday season and in 2009.

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