Backgrounder: Canada-U.S. Agreement on the Sharing of Information on Refugee Status Claims

Canada–U.S. Agreement on the Sharing of Information on Refugee Status Claims (also known as the “Asylum Annex”)

On August 22, 2003, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) and the United States Department of Homeland Security, Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services, signed an annex to the Statement of Mutual Understanding on Information Sharing entitled “Annex Regarding the Sharing of Information on Refugee Status Claims”.

Collaboration

Canada and the United States have enjoyed long-standing collaboration on border management and asylum issues. Since 1995, officials from both countries have been developing joint strategies to facilitate the exchange of information on border security issues through national and bilateral meetings, such as the Border Vision meetings between immigration agencies and the Shared Border Accord meetings between customs and immigration agencies.

In December 2001, after the tragic events of September 11, the extent of Canada–U.S. border cooperation was broadened through a mutual commitment to the Smart Border Declaration and its 30-point action plan. Among the objectives set out in the action plan was the pursuit of information-sharing initiatives to assist in administering and enforcing the citizenship and immigration laws of our two countries.

The Asylum Annex

The Annex Regarding the Sharing of Information on Refugee Status Claims (known as the Asylum Annex) is the first annex to the Statement of Mutual Understanding. This administrative agreement

  • applies to all refugee claimants except the citizens or habitual residents of Canada and the United States;
  • provides for systematic and case-by-case information sharing; and
  • respects the confidentiality and privacy laws of both Canada and the United States.

Both governments are currently working together on implementing the Asylum Annex. Once implemented, the annex will be a useful tool to

  • improve the orderly handling of refugee claims;
  • strengthen public confidence in the integrity of our asylum systems; and
  • reduce the abuse of our refugee programs.
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