As we speak, many countries in the world are in a state of war. Hundreds of civilians die each day due to these wars. Elsewhere, we hear news of how minority groups are facing persecution in their home countries.
Some countries are facing natural calamities like famines resulting in thousands of people dying of starvation. To save themselves, hundreds of people try to seek refuge in other “safer” countries. Asylum is a legal concept where people who are persecuted in their home country seek protection in another country.
As per the Global Peace Index 2020, Canada features in the top 10 most peaceful countries of the world. It is also a fairly large country welcoming thousands of immigrants every year from all around the world.
The IRCC (Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada) regulates the refugee system in Canada. Any person seeking refuge in Canada must first appear at a port of entry in Canada. IRCC, under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, then determines if the person has the right to enter Canada.
The RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) and the CBSA (Canada Border Services Agency) play an important role in stopping unlawful entry in Canada and keeping its borders safe. The CBSA is responsible for maintaining security inland and at the ports of entry. The RCMP takes care of border security between ports of entry.
Making an asylum claim in Canada
You can make a claim for asylum at an IRCC office or at a port of entry in Canada. It is up to the IRCC to determine if the claimant is eligible for asylum in Canada. Factors that play a vital role in being granted asylum in Canada are:
- Have you committed a serious crime?
- Have you been granted protection by another country?
- Have you made a previous asylum claim in Canada?
Asylum seekers have not resettled refugees. An asylum seeker makes a claim at a Canadian port of entry while resettled refugees are screened abroad and then granted a visa. Resettled refugees, in a way, go through the Canada PR process abroad, and arrive in Canada as Permanent Residents. Asylum seekers have to abide by the IRCC who also takes international treaties signed by Canada when making a decision.
Unlawful entry into Canada
Some people enter Canada between designated ports of entry. This is illegal and can be dangerous. Canada urges people to seek entry into Canada only through designated ports of entry.
Those intercepted by the RCMP are brought to the nearest IRCC office or a CBSA port of entry. An office there conducts an immigration examination, including if the person intercepted should be detained. These people go through health checks and security screening to ensure that they do not pose any kind of threat to Canada. If the person is found to be eligible for refugee status, then a refugee claim is started. Those with eligible claims are referred to the Refugee Protection Division of the IRB (Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada). A removal order is issued for those with ineligible refugee claims.
Waiting for a decision on a refugee claim
If you have an eligible refugee claim, you will get a fair hearing from the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada. The IRB bases its decision on whether you truly need protection, and if you fit the United Nations definition of a refugee.
The Immigration and Refugee Protection Act of Canada defines an asylum seeker or a refugee as a person who is in danger of torture, at risk of cruel punishment, or at a risk to their life if returned to their home country.
Those deemed eligible to make a claim in Canada get access to education, healthcare, social assistance, legal aid and emergency housing. They can also apply for a Work Permit once they have cleared the medical examination. Refugee claimants may not have access to federal settlement services. However, they are eligible for some of the settlement services offered by the provinces of Canada.
Receiving a decision on a refugee claim
If your refugee claim is accepted, you get a protected person status in Canada with access to all settlement services funded by the Federal Govt. These settlement services include:
- Referrals and needs assessment.
- Orientation to help newcomers make well-informed decisions regarding the settlement.
- Language evaluation and training help newcomers integrate into Canadian society and contribute to the economy.
- Support for assessment of foreign credentials and finding employment.
- Help newcomers’ networks so that they can become a part of the community.
If your claim is refused by the Refugee Protection Division, then you can appeal to the Refugee Appeal Division of the IRB. Those who do not have the right to appeal to the Refugee Appeal Division can approach the Federal Court.
If your appeal is also rejected, a removal order will be issued against you. You cannot access any settlement services if a removal order is issued against you. Failure to appear for the removal interview can also lead to arrest and detention before being deported.
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