Canadian refugee protection programs
The Canadian refugee system has two main parts:
- the Refugee and Humanitarian Resettlement Program, for people seeking protection from outside Canada; and
- the In-Canada Asylum Program for people making refugee protection claims from within Canada.
Refugee and Humanitarian Resettlement Program
Refugees selected for resettlement to Canada have often fled their homes because of unimaginable hardships and have, in many cases, been forced to live in refugee camps for many years. When they arrive in Canada, they basically pick up the pieces of their lives and start over again.
As a member of the international community, Canada helps find solutions to prolonged and emerging refugee situations and helps emerging democracies try to solve many of the problems that create refugee populations. To do this, Canada works closely with the UNHCR.
The UNHCR, along with private sponsors identifies refugees for resettlement. Even after a refugee is identified to Canada, it takes time to process the cases.
Under our legislation, all resettlement cases must be carefully screened to ensure that there are no issues related to security, criminality or health. Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) works with its security partners such as the Canada Border Services Agency to complete this work as quickly as possible.
Private sponsors across the country also help resettle refugees to Canada. Some are organized to do so on an ongoing basis and have signed sponsorship agreements with the Government of Canada to help support refugees from abroad when they resettle in Canada. These organizations are known as Sponsorship Agreement Holders. They can sponsor refugees themselves or work with others in the community to sponsor refugees. Other sponsors, known as Groups of Five and Community Sponsors, are persons/groups in the community who are not involved on an ongoing basis but have come together to sponsor refugee(s).
Canada has also introduced a third program to welcome refugees. Launched in 2013, the Blended Visa Office-Referred (BVOR) Program matches refugees identified for resettlement by the UNHCR with private sponsors in Canada.
Through these programs Canada welcomes many refugees each year.
In-Canada Asylum Program
Refugees come from around the world and many make their claims in Canada. The number of people arriving varies from year to year. In 2014, more than 13,500 people came to Canada and made an asylum claim.
The asylum program works 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.
Not everyone is eligible to seek asylum. For example, people convicted of serious criminal offences and people who have had previous refugee claims denied by Canada are not eligible to make a claim.