How to apply for asylum in Canada?

Throughout history, Canada has positioned itself as one of the countries that receives the most immigrants. Statistics estimate that approximately 22% of its population is foreign, mostly from China, India and the Philippines. Undoubtedly, this choice is attributed to the fact that it is a nation with great educational and labor opportunities. Hence, it attracts the mass of foreign nationals who live in conflict, violence, persecution, etc.

Canada’s industrial zone, university campuses, landscapes and culture are the perfect offer for refugees and asylum seekers; however, opting for it is not an easy task. The country’s legislation, especially regarding asylum, is quite robust and with a considerable number of restrictions that people wishing to stay in the territory must comply with. In addition, its government works to ensure the quality of life of each of its inhabitants.

canada map - asylum application

Now, that it is difficult does not mean that it is impossible; in fact, Canada has the highest rate of resettled people in the world; and it is that, in 2018, it surpassed the United States. The key is to know in detail the steps to follow to start an immigration process, as would be the case of international protection. Read on and find out how to find help in one of the most beautiful and developed nations in the world.

First considerations to apply for protection in Canada

The United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) operates hand in hand with the Canadian government, providing effective responses to asylum claims. The objectives of the two agencies together are:

  • To promote the reception of those who emigrate from their country and are at risk, according to the 1951 Convention.
  • To expedite procedures.
  • To balance and include those who are admitted as refugees.
  • Provide support in the different stages of the process, for them they communicate pertinent information through email:

For Canadian legislation, knowing what the profile of a refugee is is essential; because depending on it, the case will be approved or dismissed immediately. Someone who requires asylum must be a victim of:

  • Persecution for religious belief, political ideology, profession or sexual inclination.
  • Cruel punishments involving torture or death.
  • In other words, economic crises are not considered valid reasons to initiate an asylum application. For this reason, many people from Latin America do not achieve a satisfactory result, so if you are a Venezuelan immigrant who wishes to apply for asylum in Canada, you should consider it.

In other words, economic crises are not considered valid reasons to initiate an asylum application. For this reason, many people in Latin America do not achieve a satisfactory result .

Lying is not an option; because the research team is cautious. And if you find fraudulent information in the evidence provided or in the documents, you start a legal case that usually ends in deportation and blocking you from entering the country for five years. Learn more about the misrepresentation detected in the applications by clicking here .

On another note, keep in mind that in order to initiate the request you must be at one of the official borders of the country or within the territory. Irregular access is considered a crime, and although the request for protection does not apply subsequent sanctions, it represents a negative point for the officials. Just think that your first experience in Canada will be an arrest by the police (RCMP) until you explain the causes.

Finally, it is necessary to point out that there are specific restrictions for those coming from the United States, according to the Safe Third Country Agreement (SCTA). Below, we will explain what it consists of:

Safe Third Country Agreement

This is an agreement signed by the United States and Canada , in the year 2022, to prevent migration between both nations. Which means that movement across the land borders between them is not valid; and obliges the citizen to execute the request for protection in the first safe country they enter. However, there is the option of a claim or to adhere to certain exceptions:

  • Possess a visa to enter Canada, study or work permit.
  • Being a minor (<18 years old) and an orphan; parents not being in the United States.
  • Have relatives in Canadian territory, with legal status.
  • Have been declared to face the death penalty.
  • Being a stateless person in the United States.

Notably, the United States is the only country that has designated restrictions . Since May 2022, the inhabitants of the rest of the nations are free to go to Canada to request protection, as reflected on the official government website (click here ).

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Procedure for processing an asylum request in Canada

petition process - asylum application

As we have already indicated, the most appropriate way to request international protection in Canada is to enter regularly or legally . For this reason, at its official borders (land, air or sea) you will find the offices of the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) , where you can start your application (the waiting time may be greater than 24 hours). ). If you wish to communicate with this organization, write to the following address: .

The officials assigned to your case will have to validate your identification documents , carry out a security review (ruling out the possession of weapons or elements that threaten the peace of the nation) and, in addition, carry out an interview . Remember that sincerity is the key to success in being eligible as a refugee in Canada.

On the other hand, if you are already within the territory, just start an online application at Immigration, Refugees, Citizenship of Canada (IRCC) , to do so, enter here . If you do not have access to the Internet, the best thing to do is to seek help from friends and family, but if it is physical limitations or major causes , explain it in an email to , you will get response within two days.

In the next section, you will learn the steps to follow after you have started the application; either at the border, through the IRCC portal or email :

Step 1. Forms

For those who apply at border offices, before or during the interview, the officer will ask you to fill out forms that formalize your application. The most important form is called the BOC (Basis of Asylum Application). It will contain basic information about the citizen in question: identification data, reasons for fleeing the country of origin and why he/she is not seeking support from his/her own security agencies.

In fact, if you apply online, you will have to fill in all the forms, including the BOC, on the portal. This applies, similarly, for conventional (paper) procedures at IRCC offices. It is advisable, for this step, to seek the help of a lawyer, who will ensure that it is done without errors and that the situation is clearly expressed.

Step 2. Eligibility

Here there are two alternatives: that they allow you to continue the process or it is rejected and you have to return to your country. However, in a positive case of eligibility, there are several options that the official can indicate, according to the place where you start the process:

  • Eligible direct at the border . A CBSA representative will give you the Refugee Protection Applicant Document, with which you can access public services in Canada. Check what they are here . He will also give you a referral certificate, which validates that the official has sent the case to the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB). He will tell you where and how to do the respective medical exam, and will notify you that you have 15 calendar days to send the BOC to the office that will continue the process. From there, you will reappear at the hearing determined by the IRB (step #5).
  • Possible border eligibility . Although it is contemplated, in the workflow, that the continuity or not of the case is always defined on the same day of the request, there are exceptions. If the officer considers that you have not clearly stated your situation, but if you roughly comply with refugee status, then he will assign you a new interview (step # 4). It is an excellent opportunity to prepare yourself and align the points to be presented, thanks to the information brochure that the official will give you. Together with said material, you will receive an application certificate, instructions for the medical examination and, most likely, instructions for you to send the documentation online from here .
  • Eligible online . You will receive an email notifying you that you have several documents available in your portal account. The main ones are: claim receipt, instructions for the medical study and the details of the personal appointment. In the same way, it is the means to indicate if you are missing identity documents or forms.
  • Eligible in offices . The day you deliver the forms, documents and biometric data, the officer will tell you to come back for an interview (step #4) if you are a refugee candidate. Although, depending on certain limitations, they may avoid the transfer again and serve you at once.
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Step 3. personal appointment

Depending on the workload of the day, they may only validate the original identification documents, take your biometric data and receive the evidence of the case. In other words, you will be scheduled for an interview to explain the facts to an official. Therefore, it is a step that only applies to those who apply online and use traditional means.

However, people who for particular reasons have to go to the offices, really in the appointment summarize steps 1 and 2. Remember that you have to be admitted to use this mode.

Step 4. Interview

This is the appropriate day to clarify to the officer the reasons for seeking asylum in Canada. Answer each of his or her questions clearly and honestly, and if possible, provide evidence of what you have said. Depending on this, the officer will determine whether to continue with the process or not. You should expect to receive a refugee protection claim document.

This is an official letter that reflects the officer’s decision. If yes, you will also receive a letter of confirmation of reference, stating that the process is in the hands of the IRB. You will now be eligible for more public services in the country.

Step #5. Audience

Reaching this step indicates that the IRB considers that you meet the refugee profile, so it assigns you a hearing in an independent court to give a final answer. In this regard, days before the hearing, officials will ask for relevant evidence to support your flight and fear of return to your country of origin.

Indeed, knowing how to handle yourself properly in court requires legal assistance, but it is not mandatory (see the guide here ). Please note that these are paid resources that you will have to cover and find yourself, if you want to use them. IRB is not responsible for personal decisions involving money, as they are external to the agency.

At the conclusion of the hearing, you will finally know whether your asylum application has been approved or denied. The estimated time for the entire process is four months, although there are no fixed deadlines set out in Canada’s refugee law.

Hearing Results

Acceptance result - asylum application

positive international protection response from Canada is a great achievement . And it is that after the decision, you can immediately apply for permanent residence and opt for more benefits from the country. You can find the steps to do this process here .

Now, if the IRB decision is negative, it means that as soon as possible you must leave the country. However, do not rush, there are some alternatives such as appeal of the case in Federal Court, expulsion risk assessment , humanitarian aid , etc. For more information contact UNHCR or visit this link: services/refugees/claim-protection-inside-canada/after-apply-next-steps/refusal -options.html .

Work during the resolution of the petition

One of Canada’s advantages is that it allows refugee claimants to work while their status in the country is being determined . If you started the process at border offices, then the steps to follow are:

  • Register on the web portal. Click here .
  • Attach identity documents, or write an explanation if you do not have it.
  • Leave the employer box blank.
  • Select the “open work permit” option.
  • Upload medical exams.
  • Clarify in the corresponding section that you are a refugee applicant, so the process is free.

An open work permit means that the citizen can be employed in any company in Canada, as long as it is registered and does not engage in erotic activities. To avoid wasting time, it is advisable to process it with the online refugee application, answering affirmatively to the point that you require a contract to support yourself economically in the territory.

From there, when you are eligible, you will receive both the respective notification and the permit. Likewise, it will be granted to your adult family members who are in the petition for protection. But there is more, the youngest members of the group and teenagers will be able to study during the waiting period.

Study permit

Minors can go to school or kindergarten without any problem , while the IRB defines the family case . You have the steps to perform here . It is a free process that only requires a letter of acceptance from the university.

Rights and duties as an asylum seeker

Canada, as a developed country, manages excellent strategies to keep asylum seekers and refugees at ease while they await their verdict. Part of this is by defining and updating the duties and obligations of these citizens.

No rejection or return to the countries of origin, of the applicants. Even if protection is denied, as long as it is a nation defined as insecure.Respect the regulations and laws of the country.
Exoneration of fines for irregular entry into the country.Contribute to the care of the city where you live, with public maintenance.
Documentation indicating your status in the country.Notify the IRCC, IRB and CBSA of any change in contact information.
Practice and freely express their religious beliefs, sexuality, political ideas, etc.Not return to your country of origin, once the protection is approved.
Move around the territory and change residence, informing the government institutionsDo not travel abroad while the status of refuge is defined.
Opening bank accounts, exchanging funds and accessing credit, you do qualify.Keep your work and study permits up to date.
Health care through the Provisional Federal Health Program.
Process open work permit, extendable.
Education at all levels.
Identification document for travel abroad, once accepted as a refugee.
Permanent residence after being admitted as a refugee, includes children and spouses. And after three years of physically living in the country, he will be able to obtain citizenship.

Undoubtedly, Canada is an excellent opportunity to seek refuge. The rights are ample and guarantee the personal and professional growth of those who come to the country seeking protection. Languages, industries, culture, fashion, modernity and friendly people are some of the qualities of this powerful nation.

Canada experiential power - asylum application

Maya Martinez

Legal advisor for immigration processes. In addition to providing support in the legal procedures, I offer integral and informative support in relation to the obligations that are acquired when arriving to a new country.

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