Our country prides itself on having a tradition of humanitarian action based on compassion and a sense of fairness, the core values of Canada´s refugee system.
Canada has been a consistently strong voice for the protection of human rights and takes its international obligations seriously, the article 14 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which states that “everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution” is no exception. Canada’s domestic refugee protection system and the resettlement program have long been praised by the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR).
A refugee is different from an immigrant, in that an immigrant is a person who chooses to settle permanently in another country while a refugee is someone that is forced to flee because of a well-founded fear of persecution, and who are therefore unable to return home.
Canadian refugee protection programs
Refugee and Humanitarian Resettlement Program
For people seeking protection from outside Canada, they can be classified in two groups:
- Convention refugee abroad class: person fearing persecution based on race, religion, political opinion, nationality or membership in a particular social group (ex. gender or sexual orientation).
- Country of asylum class: people outside their home country or the country where they normally live and have been, and continue to be, seriously and personally affected by civil war or armed conflict, or have suffered massive violations of human rights.
To make a refugee claim from outside Canada they must be referred by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), other referral organization or be sponsored by a private sponsorship group, and be selected as a government-assisted or privately sponsored refugee, or have the funds needed to support yourself and any dependants after you arrive in Canada.
Private Sponsorship of Refugees Program
An individual or a group can sponsor refugees from abroad who qualify to come to Canada. Sponsors provide financial and emotional support for the refugees including housing, clothing and food assistance. Most sponsorships last for one year, but some refugees may be eligible for assistance from their sponsors for up to three years.
Sponsorship Agreement Holders, groups who have signed agreements with the Government of Canada to help support refugees from abroad when they resettle in Canada. Learn more.
Blended Visa Office-Referred Program, matches refugees identified for resettlement by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) with private sponsors in Canada. Learn more
Groups of five or more Canadian citizens or permanent residents over the age of 18 can sponsor one or more refugees to come to Canada and settle in their area. Learn more
Community sponsors, organizations, associations or corporations located in the community where the refugees are expected to settle. Learn more
Joint Assistance Sponsorship Program, organizations can work as partners with Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) to resettle refugees with special needs.
Sponsors in Quebec Quebec has its own process to sponsor refugees called collective sponsorship program.
In-Canada Asylum Program
People in need of protection who faces dangers like torture, risk to their life or risk of cruel and unusual treatment or punishment, if they returned to their home country or the country where they lived, can make a refugee protection claim from within Canada.
People convicted of serious criminal offences and people who have had previous refugee claims denied by Canada are not eligible to make a claim.
Assistance for resettled refugees
Individuals and families selected under the Government-Assisted Refugees (GAR) program are provided with immediate and essential services as well as income support under the Resettlement Assistance Program (RAP) to support their initial settlement in Canada.
RAP also provides immediate and essential services, generally delivered during the first four to six weeks following a client’s arrival in Canada, including:
- port of entry and reception services;
- temporary accommodation;
- help to find permanent accommodation;
- needs assessments;
- information and orientation; and
- links to other federal and provincial programs, as well as to other settlement services.
Private sponsors are responsible for providing financial and emotional support to privately sponsored refugees for the duration of the sponsorship period, or until the refugee becomes financially independent if this should occur during the sponsorship period.
These supports are in addition to settlement services funded by CIC to help all newcomers, including refugees, settle and integrate into their new communities; these services include:
- information and orientation services to better understand life in Canada and make informed decisions about the settlement experience.
- language training in English and French,
- employment services to search for, gain and retain employment in regulated and non-regulated professions;
- community connections services that enable newcomers to receive assistance in public institutions, build networks with long-time Canadians and established immigrants with opportunities to fully participate in Canada society; and
- support services which help newcomers access settlement services, such as childcare, transportation assistance, translation and interpretation services, provisions for persons with a disability, as well as short-term/crisis counselling to deal with settlement issues.