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The Process

Home:The Process

I am thinking of making a Refugee Claim

a Claim

I have already made
a Refugee Claim

My Refugee Claim
was accepted

My Refugee Claim
was denied

I am thinking of making a Refugee Claim—what do I need to know?

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.
You  have 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. 

Submitting a claim

You have 15 days to submit your Basis of Claim Form to the IRB-RPD.
Make a photocopy of your completed, original BOC Form and all IRCC application forms to keep for your records.

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, please CONTACT 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

It is possible to apply for a work permit at the same time as submitting your refugee claim. In the time between when you apply and when you receive this work permit, you are not able to work nor are you able to receive social assistance. However, if you held a work permit prior to making your refugee claim, you will be able to continue working with that permit until it expires or until a decision is made on your claim.

Similarly, you are able to apply for a study permit at the same time as your refugee claim. In the time between when you apply and when you receive this study permit, you are not able to study unless you held a study permit prior to making a refugee claim. If this is the case, you will be able to continue studying with that permit until it expires or until a decision is made on your claim.

As a refugee claimant, you are entitled to health coverage under the Interim Federal Health Program (IFHP). This coverage is linked to your status as a refugee claimant in Canada. Information on how to renew your IFHP coverage may be found HERE. 

Once you submit a refugee claim and complete your medical exam, you will receive your work permit. Once you have your work permit, take this document and your Refugee Protection Claimant Document to Service Canada to request a Social Insurance Number (SIN). When you have a SIN, call Social Development and ask for social assistance. This financial aid is not guaranteed and your eligibility will be determined by Social Development. To be eligible you must meet a series of criteria. Without a SIN, you will not be considered eligible to receive social assistance. For more information, contact Social Development and read more HERE.

Prepare for your hearing

Gathering evidence that supports your claim is very important to show that you are telling the truth about what happened to you in your country. All supporting documents must be translated into English or French before submitting. You have up to 10 days before the hearing date to submit your personal evidence and supporting documents related to your story or your country. It is important to identify all types of documents that can support your claim. Examples include: birth certificates, marriage certificates or family booklets showing your relationship with particular family members; identity documents or membership cards showing your membership in a particular political or advocacy organization; medical records; photos of important events or physical injuries; police reports; newspaper clippings; threats received; proof of hiding or procurement of false identity papers in order to flee your home country; etc. All documents should be listed in a document list and the pages should be numbered consecutively.

One of the most important things you can do to prepare for your refugee claim hearing is to set up a mock hearing. This allows someone to ask you difficult questions about your claim to allow you to get comfortable sharing the details of your persecution with a stranger. The New Brunswick Refugee Clinic offers mock hearings for any refugee claimant who cannot afford a private lawyer.

The refugee hearing serves to determine if you are in need of protection in Canada or if you qualify as a Convention Refugee.

In New Brunswick, these claims take place by videoconference in Fredericton. It is important to arrive early for the videoconference. In most cases, there will be no one there to greet you. You will need to find the video conference room (on the second floor of the Wu Centre at UNB Fredericton) on your own. You then wait for the IRCC hearing office in Montreal to connect automatically by videoconference.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, hearings at the Immigration and Refugee Board – Refugee Protection Division (IRB-RPD) are currently being held virtually on Microsoft Teams.

In order to attend the hearing, you have to connect remotely via Microsoft Teams from your counsel’s office or your home. The Board Member and other participants also connect remotely from their office or home.

During your hearing, the Board Member will ask you questions about your specific case and about your supporting documentation.

Some questions might be hard, and you might get sad or uncomfortable answering them. However, it is very important that you answer all questions at the best of your knowledge. Do not try to guess, add or embellish your story. It is important to give details related to what happened to you and to describe your fear.

At the end of the hearing, your counsel will also have an opportunity to ask you further questions and will also provide with oral submission as to why your claim should be allowed based on the evidence submitted, the case law and the regulations.

The hearing can take from 2 to 5 hours and can be adjourned to another day if not concluded. You might get the decision at the end of the hearing verbally – however, this is a rare occurrence. Most of the time the decision will be sent in the mail about 30 days later.

Many refugee claimants decide to have legal representation. This is highly recommended given the administrative process for submitting an adequate and complete refugee claim. Your representative will assist you in preparing for the hearing. This is important as the refugee determination process is complex and involves many different steps and procedures.

If you need assistance and you do not have the means to pay for a private lawyer, please Contact Us.