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Refugee Protection Division

Overview of Refugee Claims before the Refugee Protection Division

The Refugee Protection Division is a tribunal branch of the Immigration and Refugee Board. The Refugee Protection Division hears matters from individuals claiming refugee protection in Canada. Claims can be made at an IRCC or CBSA office in Canada, online once inside Canada or a Port of Entry, such as an airport or border. You may also make a claim from outside of Canada, but such claims are not processed by the Refugee Protection Division, they are processed by IRCC. Claims for refugee status are made under two categories: a convention refugee or a person in need of protection. 

Presently, refugee claims made inside of Canada are to be submitted online through the new asylum online application (eApp), hosted by the IRCC portal. In some cases, claimants making a claim at a port of entry may also be given the opportunity to submit their application online through the eApp versus a paper application. This determination will be made upon entry to Canada by a CBSA Officer based on an eligibility and risk assessment.  

Following the submission of the claim, an officer must determine if the claim is eligible for referral to the Refugee Protection Division (RPD).

Once the claim has been referred to the RPD, a hearing will be scheduled. The claimant must appear for a hearing and has the burden to establish that the claimant is a convention refugee or a person in need of protection. In certain circumstances, a claim may be decided without a hearing.  

Convention Refugees

A convention refugee is someone who has proved to the Refugee Protection Division that they are unable or unwilling to return to their country of origin or country of previous residence because they have a well-founded fear of persecution based on: 

a) Race 

b) Religion 

c) Nationality 

d) Political opinion 

e) Being a member of a specific social group 

Person in need of Protection

A person in need of protection is someone who has proved to the Refugee Protection Division that they are unable or unwilling to return to their country of origin or country of previous residence because they would personally be subjected to danger, torture or a risk to their life or a risk of cruel and unusual punishment regardless of where they are in the country. This does not include risk that is a product of the country’s inability to provide adequate health or medical care. 

Whether you claim refugee as a convention refugee or a person in need of protection, you must provide the Refugee Protection Board with sufficient evidence and/or be credible in your testimony to prove your claim. 

Am I eligible to make a claim?

You cannot make a claim for Refugee status in Canada if you: 

a) Have already been granted refugee status in Canada or another country 

b) Have been refused previously for refugee protection in Canada 

c) Have had a prior claim that was determined to be ineligible, withdrawn or abandoned 

d) Have committed crimes including, but not limited to, war crimes, crime against humanity, serious crimes outside the country of refuge or other acts that are contrary to the principles of the United Nations 

The Safe Third Country Agreement (STCA) is an agreement between Canada and the United States that mandates that those claiming refugee must claim it in the first country that they arrive in before crossing the border and claiming it in the second country. There are exceptions to this rule. 

The first is if the person making the claim has a family member who is in Canada and is a citizen, permanent resident, is a protected person, has made a claim for refugee status that has been accepted by the IRB, has had their removal order stayed on humanitarian and compassionate grounds, holds a work or study permit or is over the age of 18 and has an active Refugee matter that has been referred to the Immigration Refugee Board. The second exception is for unaccompanied minors, which include people that are under the age of 18 and are not accompanied by parents or guardian, spouse or common law partner and do not have parents or a guardian in Canada or the United States. The third exception is Document holder exceptions which include people who have valid Canadian visas, study or work permit, travel document issued by Canada or do not require a visa to enter Canada but require one to enter the United States. The last exception is for people who fall under the public interest exception. This category applies to people who have been convicted of a crime that holds the death penalty as a potential sentence. It is important to note that even if you meet any of these exceptions, you must prove that you are eligible for a refugee claim in Canada by meeting all the other requirements.

What happens after the Refugee Protection Division hears my claim?

After the hearing at the Refugee Protection Division, a claimant will be granted status as a protected person if the panel has found that the claimant is a convention refugee or a person in need of protection or the claim may be refused and then the conditional removal order will become effective within a designated time period unless an appeal is made to the Refugee Appeal Division and/or other steps under the law. For more information on Removal Orders, click here. If you are granted status as a protected person, you may apply for permanent residency. If your claim has been refused, you may appeal to the Refugee Appeal Division. It is important to note that if you are not eligible to file an appeal to the Refugee Appeal Division, you may file an Application for Leave and Judicial Review to the Federal Court. For more information on the Federal Court, click here

If the Refugee Protection Division grants refugee status to an individual, the Minister retains the right to file an appeal to the Refugee Appeal Division if they believe the Refugee Protection Division erred in their decision. For more information on the Refugee Appeal Division, click here

If you have been granted permanent residence status, it is important to note that the Government may make an application to revoke your status as a refugee for any of number of reasons, including travelling back to the country of refuge, obtaining and using a passport from the country of refuge, re-establishing yourself in the country of refuge and/or the reasons for which the person sought refuge have ceased. Your refugee status may also be vacated if you have been found to have misrepresented when you made your claim. For more information on refugee cessation matters, we encourage you to contact a legal professional. 

What to do next?

If you believe you may be a convention refugee or a person in need of protection, have already made a claim for refugee status or have been refused for refugee status, and would like assistance, we encourage you to contact Bellissimo Immigration Law Group PC 

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