Temporary public policy to exempt refugee claimants, in Canada, from certain requirements for open work permit issuance


Canada’s asylum system has been under considerable strain due to sustained high levels of asylum claimants seeking Canada’s protection. More recently, the lifting of COVID-19 pandemic-related border restrictions led to a renewed surge in refugee claims in Canada, resulting in critical delays in the early stages of refugee claim processing.

This bottleneck is preventing timely access to work permits for asylum claimants, leaving many without the opportunity to access employment and support themselves financially or contribute to the Canadian economy, and placing additional pressure on provincial and territorial social assistance and other critical supports.

Public Policy Considerations

Pursuant to paragraph 206(1)(a) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (the Regulations), refugee claimants who cannot support themselves without working may only be issued a work permit after their claim has been referred to the Refugee Protection Division (RPD) of the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB).

This Temporary Public Policy exempts refugee claimants who made their claim in Canada since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic from meeting certain requirements when applying for a work permit, in recognition of the importance of ensuring that claimants can support themselves financially while they await referral of their refugee claim to the IRB.

To obtain a work permit under this public policy claimants must be determined eligible for referral to the RPD, in addition to other key requirements listed below. Normally this eligibility assessment is completed when a claimant appears for their scheduled examination. However, because of the current lengthy wait times for an in-person examination, a streamlined process has been implemented to allow eligibility to be determined by an officer prior to the in-person examination based on information provided by the claimant through their claim. Claimants will still be required to attend their scheduled examination, as not complying with this requirement could result in removal procedures being triggered. Only once the in-person examination is completed, will the claim be referred to the RPD. This approach will allow for work permits to be issued sooner than the current process.

As such, to ensure timely issuance of work permits to refugee claimants, I hereby establish, pursuant to my authority under section 25.2 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (the Act), that there are sufficient public policy considerations that justify the granting of exemptions from the requirement of the Act and Regulations listed below to foreign nationals who meet the conditions (eligibility requirements) set out below.

Conditions (Eligibility Requirements)

Based on public policy considerations, delegated officers may grant an exemption from the requirements of the Act and Regulations identified below if:

The foreign national:

  1. Has made a claim for refugee protection as required by subsection 99(1) of the Act on or after March 15, 2020 that has not been referred to the Refugee Protection Division of the Immigration and Refugee Board or determined to be ineligible to be referred to that Division;
  2. Has complied with the requirements of subsection 99(3) of the Act that they made their claim for refugee protection inside Canada to an officer and were not subject to a removal order at the time they made their claim;
  3. Has submitted all the information and documents required for the purpose of making a claim using the Canadian Refugee Protection Portal or IRCC Portal, unless the foreign national is unable to use electronic means to do so in which case the foreign national may use other means made available or specified by the Minister for that purpose. 
  4. Has submitted a work permit application under paragraph 200(1)(c)(i) of the Regulations;
  5. Has provided biometrics in accordance with section 10.01 of the Act and paragraph 12.1(k) of the Regulations;
  6. Has submitted to a medical examination in accordance with subparagraph 30(1)(a)(v) of the Regulations, only as it applies to the issuance of the work permit under paragraph 206 and paragraph 200 of the Regulations; and
  7. Has a claim for refugee protection that has been determined to be eligible to be referred to the Refugee Protection Division under s.100 of the Act.

Provisions of the Act and Regulations for which an exemption may be granted:

Other Admissibility and Selection Criteria

Foreign nationals eligible under this public policy are subject to all other legislative and regulatory obligations and admissibility and selection requirements not exempted under this, or another, public policy.

Effective Date and Expiration

This public policy comes into effect on November 16, 2022. The public policy may be revoked at any time.

The Honourable Sean Fraser
Minister of Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship
Dated at Ottawa, this 3 day of November, 2022


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