2020 has proven a challenging year in a myriad of ways. Most importantly, the global pandemic of COVID-19 has had a considerable impact on the situations of refugees around the world. In Canada, the global shutdown has significantly slowed the immigration system, leaving many individuals in limbo as they await the necessary authorizations to work and live in Canada. We at NBRC recognize the significant and disproportionate hardships that COVID-19 has brought upon our clients and the global refugee population as a whole. Throughout the duration of the pandemic, we have worked hard to remain a steadfast and accessible resource for at-risk newcomers in our province and region, ensuring the constant availability of critical legal services and representation even during initial provincial lockdowns.
I would like to acknowledge our donors for their generous financial contributions to sustain our work during this year, which has been especially hard for many economically. The New Brunswick Law Foundation, our principal funder, has continued to provide us with the funding we need to remain operational. We are deeply grateful for their ongoing support and recognition of our important work serving at-risk persons in New Brunswick.
As the pandemic continues, we remain dedicated to serving as a crucial resource to those who need legal assistance and representation and look optimistically toward the future. Working to empower marginalized individuals and to increase community awareness of refugee issues will remain a priority of NBRC in the years to come, and we look forward to continuing our provision of support to those rebuilding their lives in Canada.
If you make a refugee claim in Canada and you already have a study or work permit, you may continue using the permits until a decision is made on your claim. If the decision is ultimately negative and your refugee claim is rejected, then you will need to leave Canada regardless of the validity of your work or study permit.
When you make a refugee claim in Canada, a departure order will be issued. This departure order is then automatically “stayed” (not enforced) until your refugee claim is decided. If your refugee claim is refused, the departure order will come into effect and you will have 30 days to voluntarily leave the country. If you do not leave within that time frame, a deportation order will take effect and you will be removed from Canada.
When making a refugee claim, you will have to surrender your passport to Canadian Immigration and will thus be unable to leave the country while your claim is being processed, which in some cases can take many years. If you do decide to leave the country before a decision is made on your refugee claim, your claim will be considered “abandoned” and you will forfeit your right to refugee protection in Canada. It will also be very difficult for you to enter Canada again in the future.
If you make a refugee claim and it is successful, you cannot return to your home country (the country you made a refugee claim against). This would signify to Canada that your life is no longer at risk in that country, and could therefore jeopardize the protection afforded to you by Canada.
If you make a refugee claim in Canada, you will lose the opportunity to apply for permanent residence in Canada through many popular economic programs (for example the Atlantic Immigration Pilot Program or the Provincial Nominee Program). You should therefore carefully explore all possible options to obtain permanent residence in Canada before making a refugee claim, as once a claim is made, you cannot change your mind to pursue a different immigration option.
If you are entering Canada at the Canada-United States border, you must review the rules carefully to determine if you will be eligible to make a refugee claim. You must meet one of the exemptions in the “Safe Third Country Agreement”, such as having a relative living in Canada as a permanent resident or citizen, to be eligible. If you are not eligible, you will be turned away at the border. Read about the ‘Safe Third Country Agreement’ HERE.
Personalized risk Are you personally threatened by a person, group of people, or your country’s government based on your race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular social group (for example: women or persons of a particular sexual orientation)?
Some examples of what is NOT personalized risk • Your country is under a dictatorship, experiencing a natural disaster and all its citizens are experiencing great economic hardship as a result. You want to make a refugee claim in Canada because you cannot provide for your family in your country. • Youhave fled an abusive relationship in your hometown. If you moved to the other side of your country you would be safe. • Your country is experiencing civil war or unrest, causing you to flee your home, but you are not personally targeted by the government, rebel forces or any other group.
Keep in mind When assessing refugee claims, Canada examines whether or not the claimant would be safe if they simply relocated to another part of their country. If you cannot provide proof that your life or personal security is in danger no matter where you live in your country, your refugee claim does not have a strong chance of success.
When assessing refugee claims, Canada also examines whether or not the claimant could obtain police protection in their country. To have a successful refugee claim, you must be able to prove that the police are unwilling or unable to protect you from the threat you face in your country.
Complete the BOC Form and all the other application forms.
Take your BOC Form, your IRCC application forms, and 4 photos of each family member who is included in your refugee claim to the IRCC office in Fredericton. Be sure to bring your passport or other identity document. IRCC will seize your passport and provide you with a certified copy for your records. Your passport will not be returned until after your refugee claim is finally determined.
When you submit your forms, an IRCC officer will tell you a date to return for an Eligibility Interview to determine whether you are eligible to make a refugee claim in Canada. At that interview, if the officer decides you are eligible, your case will be sent to the IRB-RPD.
If you have documents to support your refugee claim, we recommend that you wait until your case is sent to the IRB-RPD, and then submit your supporting documents directly to the IRB-RPD office. This avoids having your supporting documents lost between IRCC-Fredericton and the IRB-RPD office in Montreal, an experience that does unfortunately occur.
The most important form when making a refugee claim is the Basis of Claim form (or “BOC”). In this form you will tell your story and describe why you need refugee protection. It is very important to provide this information clearly and in as much detail as possible. If you cannot afford a lawyer to assist you, pleaseCONTACT US.
When you submit your claim, you will sign a Conditional Removal Order, also known as a Departure Order. This form means that if you lose, withdraw or abandon your case, you will be required to leave Canada.
In the province of New Brunswick, refugee claims are submitted at the IRCC office in Fredericton. The forms to make a refugee claim may be found HERE.
Once you have submitted the claim, you will need to return to the IRCC Office in Fredericton for your eligibility interview with an immigration officer. This interview will determine whether or not you are granted refugee claimant status.
After you pass the eligibility interview, you will await a ‘Notice to Appear’ for your refugee hearing. In larger jurisdictions such as Montreal, Toronto or Vancouver, these hearings are held in person, but in Atlantic Canada all hearings are held via videoconference.
In New Brunswick, your hearing will be held virtually at the University of New Brunswick (UNB) Fredericton.*
*COVID-19 notice: Due to the pandemic of COVID-19, hearings in New Brunswick are currently being held from one’s own home, as UNB Fredericton remains closed to the public. To complete your hearing, you will need a laptop, a reliable internet connection and a pair of headphones. If you would like more information about how your hearing will be conducted, please CONTACT US.
I have already made a Refugee Claim – what now?
Working, studying and health care while waiting for the hearing date