Can I make a refugee claim in Canada?

If you’re afraid to return to your home country, you may be able to make a refugee claim. To be accepted as a refugee in Canada, you must be either a:

  • , or
  • .

To get refugee protection, you must go through a refugee claim process. The process depends on whether you make your refugee claim:

COVID 19 border restrictions: Read here for more information about who can cross the Canada-US border during COVID-19.

Inland refugee claim process
Inland refugee claim process

Learn how to make a claim in Canada

Port-of-entry refugee claim process
Port-of-entry refugee claim process

Learn how to make a claim at an airport, marine port, or border

Most people who make a refugee claim have the right to a hearing at the Refugee Board. It can take some time before you have a hearing because of scheduling delays at the Refugee Board.

The Refugee Board decides if you meet the definition of a Convention refugee or a person in need of protection. If you meet the definition, your refugee claim will be accepted, you will become a , and you can apply to become a of Canada.

People who are not eligible

Some people are not eligible to make a refugee claim. You won’t be able to make a claim if you:

  • have a against you
  • have Convention refugee status in another country that you can return to
  • made a refugee claim in Canada in the past and it was rejected, withdrawn, or  
  • committed a serious crime or did something that broke human rights laws
  • arrived from the United States, which Canada says is a safe third country and the rules apply to you 
  • arrived from a country that has an information sharing agreement with Canada and that country confirms that you already made a refugee claim there. The list of countries includes the United States, Australia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom.

Get legal help

If you want to make a refugee claim, you should get legal help as soon as possible. Refugee law is complicated. If you make a mistake on your application, you might not be able to stay in Canada.

And, if you’re not eligible to make a refugee claim, a lawyer can tell you if there are ways you can delay your removal, apply for , or apply to stay in Canada permanently. 

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