Processing in-Canada refugee claims: special claimant types

This section contains policy, procedures and guidance used by IRCC staff. It is posted on the department’s website as a courtesy to stakeholders.

Some refugee claimants are processed differently if they hold a particular status already, are from a particular country, or make a claim in a specific way: 

Designated countries of origin

The Minister has the authority to identify designated countries of origin (DCO). DCOs are countries that do not normally produce refugees. Such countries are widely regarded as respectful of human rights and offering state protection. DCO claimants:

  • may not apply for a work permit unless/until their refugee claim is approved by the Refugee Protection Division (RPD), or 180 days have passed and their claim has not yet been heard;
  • have their RPD hearing sooner than other claimants;
  • do not have access to the IRB’s Refugee Appeal Division;
  • whose refugee claims are rejected, may not apply for a PRRA until 36 months have passed since the rejection (as opposed to the 12-month bar on non-DCO claimants).

A person is considered a DCO claimant if they are a citizen or a national of a designated country.

For more information on dealing with refugee claimants from a DCO, see processing in-Canada refugee claims for refugee protection: Final decisions.

Refugee claimants with valid temporary resident status

A person with valid temporary resident status may make a refugee claim and keep their visitor record, work permit or study permit. Work and study permits remain valid until they expire or until a removal order made against the permit holder comes into force.

Temporary residents may, like other refugee claimants, be considered inadmissible for seeking to remain in Canada permanently while not in possession of a permanent resident visa, [A41(a) plus A20(1)(a)].

Holders of valid temporary resident permits

Determine whether the claim is eligible for referral to the RPD. As long as the temporary resident permit (TRP) remains valid, it is not necessary to prepare an A44 report or a removal order. When the TRP expires, the A44 report and removal order should be written and given to the claimant.

Claimants eligible for sponsorship by family members in Canada

A claimant may have a family member in Canada who is eligible to sponsor them. You may notify claimants of the sponsorship option.

Initiation of a sponsorship does not prevent a person from making or continuing with a refugee claim. A claim may be withdrawn if the claimant becomes a permanent resident as a result of the sponsorship.

If a claimant who is notified of a sponsorship option decides to proceed only with the sponsorship before front-end screening is concluded, follow withdrawal procedures of the refugee claim. Counsel the claimant about the consequences of withdrawal of the claim.

Foreign representatives

Foreign representatives include the following:

  • diplomatic agent (diplomat);
  • consular officer (career consular officer);
  • member of the administrative and technical staff, consular employee or member of the service staff of a foreign country;
  • international civil servant [representative or official of the United Nations or any of its agencies; of an international or intergovernmental organization of which Canada is a member; or personnel of other offices accredited by the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development (DFATD)];
  • state member delegate to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), such as a permanent representative, an alternate representative, a technical advisor or counsellor;
  • member of the administrative and technical staff or member of the service staff of the delegation of a country an international organization; and
  • family members and private domestic workers of the above individuals.

Foreign representatives are accredited by DFATD, in the form of a counterfoil in the individual’s passport or official travel document. This will show the letter D (diplomat), C (consular), I (persons enjoying status equivalent to diplomatic status in international organizations), or J (official/junior professional categories). Family members of foreign representatives normally have the same code on their counterfoil as the head of the family. Foreign representatives and their dependants 16 years of age and older are also issued a diplomatic ID card with corresponding D, C, I, or J coding.

For more information about who is, and who is not a foreign representative contact the Office of Protocol of Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada (DFATD).

When someone identifies themselves as a foreign representative and makes a refugee claim, the following steps should be followed:

  • The claimant’s foreign accreditation must be cancelled before the eligibility interview. The claimant may contact the DFATD Office of Protocol directly or may provide written authorisation to CIC/CBSA to do so.
  • If not already done by DFATD, seize both the:
    • diplomatic and/or personal passport(s) or other document with the counterfoil;
    • diplomatic ID card.
  • The identity card must be cut up and destroyed or returned to DFATD. It is not necessary to return the passport(s) but the accreditation counterfoil should be cancelled without prejudice.
  • Request that the claimant complete a statutory declaration (IMM 1392B). It should include the identity of the person, their position and which government or agency they served and the fact that they want to relinquish their diplomatic accreditation. The claimant may decide whether or not to include information about the claim in the declaration. Send the declaration to DFATD. The latter will not share information given by the CIC or the CBSA with the country in which the claimant has nationality.
  • Give the claimant certified true copies of all seized documents.
  • If the claimant says that a document has been lost or stolen ask them to get a police report and send a copy to CIC.

See more guidance on handling high-profile, complex, sensitive or contentious cases.

Claims made during the course of other immigration proceedings

The proceedings should be adjourned and the claimant should be referred to an officer delegated to process refugee claim. In addition, do the following:

  • If appropriate, advise the claimant that the immigration matter that was being considered is adjourned pending the outcome of the refugee eligibility examination.
  • Contact the responsible CIC or CBSA inland office that accepts claims for refugee protection and arrange an appointment for the claimant within three working days).
  • Give the claimant the package containing the necessary application forms (IMM 0008, Schedule A, etc.) and tell the claimant that they must appear at the designated inland office for a refugee eligibility examination and that the filled out forms will be required at that time.
  • Tell the claimant that enforcement action may result if they do not report for their refugee eligibility examination.
  • Put a non-computer based (NCB) entry in FOSS explaining what was done.
Claims made during an admissibility hearing

If a person makes a refugee claim during an admissibility hearing (before a removal order is issued), the member will continue with the hearing including issuance of the removal order, if appropriate. A removal order issued to a refugee claimant is conditional [A49(2)]. Following the hearing refer the claimant to a border services officer designated to receive refugee claims.

Military deserters

Persons who have deserted the military in their country of origin may be inadmissible to Canada under paragraph 36(1)(b) or 36(1)(c) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act because desertion is an offence in Canada under the National Defence Act (NDA). The maximum punishment for desertion under section 88 of the NDA is life imprisonment if the person committed the offence during active service or under orders for active service.

When a military deserter makes a refugee claim or applies for a PRRA, send case details to NHQ Case Management Branch. Advise NHQ of any significant developments on such claims/applications. See more guidance on handling high-profile, complex, sensitive or contentious cases.

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