The main objectives of Canada’s refugee program are to save lives and to offer safe heaven to persons with a well-founded fear of persecution based on race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular social group, as well as those at risk of torture or cruel and unusual treatment or punishment. On the other hand, Canada will weigh these objectives against the other objectives such as protecting the health and safety of Canadians and maintaining the security of Canadian society.
Refugee protection may be conferred on several types or classes of people through different ways. Convention Refugees Abroad and Humanitarian-Protected Persons Abroad are determined abroad. They may be issued permanent resident visas to enter Canada as permanent residents. They may also be issued temporary resident permits to enter Canada as temporary residents; once in Canada, they are protected persons and may apply for permanent residency.
For those in Canada, there are two ways to become protected persons: “claiming” for refugee protection or “applying” for refugee protection. Those who are eligible for making a refugee claim may be conferred refugee protection by the Refugee Protection Division (RPD) of the Immigration and Refugee Board Canada (IRB) either as a Convention refugee or a person in need of protection. Those who are not eligible for making a refugee claim may be conferred refugee protection by the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Canada through a process called Pre-Removal Risk Assessment (PRRA) as long as no exception or restriction applies to them. Either way, successful claimants or applicants may become protected persons and apply for permanent resident status.
- Claim for refugee protection through the Refugee Protection Division
- Apply for refugee protection through PRRA
The overseas family members of a Protected Persons may apply for permanent residency within one year after the protected person becomes a permanent resident as long as they are included in the protected person’s application for permanent residency in Canada and are not inadmissible.
While refugees and persons in similar circumstances in need of Canada’s protection are determined by the Federal government, those who are destined to Quebec must meet Quebec’s selection criteria.
1. Claim for Refugee Protection through the Refugee Protection Division
The Refugee Protection Division (RPD) is a division of the Immigration and Refugee Board. It may confer refugee protection on two types of persons:
- A Convention refugee is a person who, because of a well-founded fear (or a subjective fear plus a serious possibility) of persecution based on one or more of five grounds: race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group or political opinion, is outside his/her country of nationality and is unable or unwilling to avail themselves of the protection of that country. He/she is unable to do so when there is clear and convincing evidence that the state is the perpetrator or an accomplice of the persecution or is unable or unwilling to protect him/her; he/she is unwilling to do so when he/she has a clear and convincing evidence to fear the state is the perpetrator or an accomplice of the persecution or is unable or unwilling to protect him/her.
- A person in need of protection is a person in Canada whose removal to his country of nationally would, believed on substantial grounds to exist (or more likely than not), subject him/her personally to a danger of torture or a risk to his/her life or to a risk of cruel and unusual treatment or punishment if the person is unable/unwilling to avail themselves of the protection of that country; the risk would be faced by the person in every part of that country; the risk faced by the person is not faced by others generally, in or from that country; the risk is not inherent or incidental to internationally acceptable lawful sanctions; and the risk is not caused by the inability of that country to provide adequate medical care.
But before the Refugee Protection Division is able to consider a person’s claim to be a Convention refugee or a person in need of protection, he/she will be screened by an immigration officer for eligibility for claiming for refugee protection. Only a person who is considered eligible will be referred to the Refugee Protection Division. When a person is referred, the first thing the Refugee Protection Board will do is to determine if the person is excluded from refugee protection.
A decision of RPD may be appealed to the Refugee Appeal Division (RAD), which may confirm the decision of RPD, set aside the decision of RPD and substitute its own decision or refer the matter to RPD for re-determination.
Refugee protection may be ceased in some situations especially when the reasons for protection have ceased to exist unless there are compelling reasons arising out of previous experience to refuse to seek protection from the country in question.
Refugee protection may be vacated if it has been found that the protection was obtained as a result of directly or indirectly misrepresenting or withholding material facts relating to a relevant matter even if the person has become a permanent resident.
2. Apply for Refugee Protection through PRRA
Those who are subject to removal orders or are named in security certificates, who do not meet the eligibility for claiming for refugee protection or who have failed in their refugee claim may resort to another process called Pre-Removal Risk Assessment (PRRA) to apply for refugee protection as long as they are not exceptions defined in the IRPA. PRRA applications are not handled by the Refugee Protection Division, but by the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Canada. Usually a person can apply for PRRA when he/she is given notification by an officer that he/she may make such an application; if the person applies with 15 days of such notification, his/her removal order will be stayed until a negative decision on his/her application. When a removal order is made at a point of entry, a PRRA application must be made as soon as possible together with any submission without notification by an officer though such an application does not stay a removal order. PRRA applications may be made repeatedly without notification though a repeated application does not stay a removal order.
A PRRA applicant whose refugee protection claim has been rejected may present only new evidence that arose after the rejection, was not available or could not be presented at the time of the rejection.
There is usually no hearing for PRRA unless the Minister is of the opinion that there is evidence that raises a serious issue of the applicant’s credibility, that is central to the PRRA decision and that, if accepted, would justify a positive decision.
For some applicants (those who are named in a security certificate, those who are excluded from refugee claim by Refugee Protection Division due to a crime against peace, a war crime, a crime against humanity, a serious non-political crime or acts contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations or those who are inadmissible on grounds of security, violating human or international rights, organized criminality or serious criminality with serious criminality defined as, for a conviction in Canada, punished with an actual sentence of at least six months and, for a conviction outside Canada, punishable with a maximum sentence of at least 10 years if convicted in Canada.), PRRA considerations will be based on the definition of a person in need of protection in the law and if they are danger to the public in or the security of Canada. Before a decision for this type of applicants, the Minister will make an assessment for the applicant to respond within 15 days. Any positive decisions are restricted to staying their removal orders, which may be cancelled if circumstances have changed.
Otherwise, PRRA considerations will be based on the definitions of a Convention refugee and a person in need of protection in the law and any positive PRRA decisions will confer refugee protection on the applicant, who can then apply for permanent resident status.
PRRA protection may be vacated if it is found that a positive decision was obtained as a result of directly or indirectly misrepresenting or withholding material facts on a relevant matter even if the person has obtained permanent resident status.
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