First of, I will like to clarify that immigration is different from seeking refuge in a country as a refugee. Immigration is you willingly choosing to go settle in another country temporarily or permanently, while seeking refuge or being a refugee will mean you are forced out of your current country due to some circumstance related to threat of life, e.g. war, natural disaster, religious persecution, prosecution related to gender and so on.
This article will be discussing refugees who have left their homes and want to go or have gone to Canada. Under the Resettlement Assistance Program, the Government of Canada or Province of Qubec helps government assisted refugees with essential services and income support once they are in Canada.
This income is usually for eligible clients who cannot pay for their own basic needs, and it is for up to one year or until they can support themselves, whichever comes first.
The Resettlement Assistance Program also helps refugees to find temporary place to live in, assessing their needs, providing information and helping them to know Canada as well as referring them to other federal and provincial programs during the first four to six weeks they get to Canada.
The private sponsors must on the other hand provide financial and emotional support to refugees they sponsor for the length of the sponsorship period, or until the refugee can support themselves if it happens during the sponsorship period.
How To Apply
There are two ways to apply for refugee status in Canada:
- Apply at a port of entry, which will men airport, seaport or land border. The officer at the port will decide if your claim is eligible to be referred to the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB). If your claim is eligible you will be given a document confirming that your claim has been referred to the IRB, and have 15 days to complete all forms in application package and submit them to the IRB.
- Apply at an Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) offices. You must have all forms in the application package completed and with you and will not be scheduled for an interviewer until you show in person that you have completed all forms. If the officer decides that your refugee claim is eligible, you will be given a date for your IRB hearing. The officer will give you a Confirmation of Referral that your claim is being referred to the IRB.
At a later date, you will receive a Notice to Appear for a hearing from the IRB stating where to go for the hearing, time you must show up and where it will start. Identity documents like passport, driver’s license and any other documents which may prove your identity or support your refugee claim must be taken along with you to the hearing. The IRB will access your claim and decide if you are given refugee status.
The Canadian Refugee System
The Canadian refugee system has two main categories: the Refugee and Humanitarian Resettlement Program for people from outside Canada in need of protection and, the In-Canada Asylum Program for people making refugee claims from within Canada.
- Refugee and Humanitarian Resettlement Program: A person can not apply directly to Canada for resettlement but must first identify with the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), along with private sponsors who will help resettle refugees to Canada. These private sponsors are called Sponsorship Agreement Holders, and they can sponsor refugee themselves or work with others in the community to do so. The identified refugees by the UNHCR are matched, using the Blended Visa Office-Referred (BVOR) Program, with private sponsors in Canada. Canadian laws require that all resettlement cases must be carefully screened and make sure there are no issues related to security, criminality or health before approving resettlement for refugees.
- In-Canada Asylum Program: This program is designed to provide refugee protection to people in Canada who have a well-founded fear of persecution or are at risk of torture, or cruel or unusual punishment in their home countries. A person who has been convicted of serious criminal offences or has a previous refugee claim denied by Canada is not eligible under this program.
How to prepare for your hearing
Other Services Rendered to Newcomers:
- Help them know their communities and link them to services in their community
- Help them to better understand life in Canada and make informed decisions (this include the Canadian Orientation Abroad Program)
- Help them get language training in English or French
- Search for and find jobs
- Build community networks with long-time Canadians and established immigrants, and
- access support services which help with: childcare, using transportation, finding translation and interpretation services, finding resources for people with disabilities and, accessing short-term crisis counselling if needed.
Access to settlement services continues until individuals become Canadian citizens.