CACN – Canada’s Resettlement Program - Nov 16, 2020
Canada’s resettlement program provides protection to refugees, with financial and settlement supports provided upon arrival in Canada for up to 1 year.
Refugees are individuals who have fled their home country and have no other durable solution, such as returning to their home country or integrating in the country where they have sought asylum. They may be referred to Canada for resettlement by the United Nations Refugee Agency or may be privately sponsored.
Each resettlement decision is made on a case-by-case basis and based on the specific facts presented by each individual.
Individuals cannot apply directly for resettlement to Canada, nor can refugee claims be made at an embassy or consulate of Canada.
Foreign nationals who are in Canada continue to have access to the asylum system. Individuals who are eligible to make a claim are referred to the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, an independent, quasi-judicial tribunal, which decides whether or not an individual is in need of protection, based on the merits of their case.
Refugee resettlement during the COVID-19 pandemic has been limited by border restriction measures, flight availability and the temporary suspension of resettlement movements by Canada’s primary resettlement delivery partners.
Only those resettled refugees who are exempt from Canada’s border restriction measures can travel to Canada at this time. Exemptions apply to refugees whose visas were issued before travel restrictions were in place, and Canada continues to facilitate these cases.
Refugees who have fled their home country and who face immediate risks may be resettled under Canada’s Urgent Protection Program. This program provides expedited resettlement to refugees whose life, liberty, or safety is immediately threatened. Canada continues to facilitate travel for a limited number of refugees who require urgent protection.
Human Rights Defenders
Canada offers protection to human rights defenders through the refugee resettlement program. The United Nations Refugee Agency and other authorized partners refer these cases to Canada when individuals are located outside of their home country and are in need of resettlement.
In recognition of the risks that human rights defenders face, we are expanding our resettlement commitments by establishing a dedicated resettlement stream for them. This stream is on track to be fully operational in the spring of 2021 and will allow up to 250 human rights defenders to be resettled to Canada per year.
To ensure that the new stream best meets the needs of human rights defenders, my Department has consulted with international experts, including the United Nations and leading international, non-governmental organizations.
The Government of Canada continues to closely monitor the plight of Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in Xinjiang.
Canada’s refugee resettlement program is available to refugees of any nationality who have fled persecution, conflict, or massive violations of human rights and are located outside their country of persecution. This includes any Uyghur persons who may be in such circumstances.
Foreign nationals in Canada, including Uyghur persons, continue to have access to the asylum system. Individuals who are eligible to make a claim are referred to the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, an independent, quasi-judicial tribunal, which decides whether or not an individual is in need of protection, based on the merits of their case.
The Government of Canada does not record refugees’ ethnicity or religion, so there are no specific figures available on the number of Uyghur persons who have been resettled to Canada.
Supporting facts and figures
Canada is the top resettlement country in the world. In 2019, we resettled over 30,000 refugees, more than any other country.
From March 18, 2020, when travel restrictions were enacted, until October 29, Canada resettled over 2,870 refugees, including over 1,600 privately-sponsored refugees, over 1,260 government-assisted refugees, and over 10 blended visa office-referred refugees. During this same period, 40 refugees were resettled under the Urgent Protection Program.
Since the imposition of the National Security Law on June 30, 2020, and as of October 21, 2020, no Hong Kong passport holders have been referred to Canada as refugees.
2020 Admissions Target
2020 Admissions Jan-Sep
2021 Admissions Target
2022 Admissions Target
2023 Admissions Target
Blended Visa-Office Referred
Only people who have fled their country qualify as refugees. In keeping with international practices, Canada’s refugee resettlement program is available to people located outside of their country.
Canada does not have an immigration class dedicated to resettling people at risk from within their country, but special, temporary and targeted measures can be considered, where conditions are favourable, through the use of public policies. For instance, in 2017, with the awareness and support of the Iraqi government, the Government of Canada undertook an exceptional resettlement effort for survivors of Daesh from within their home country of Iraq. At this time, there are no special measures in place permitting the resettlement of Hong Kongers, Uyghurs or any other Chinese nationals as refugees from within China.
As part of Canada’s Refugee Resettlement Program, Canada reserves space for the resettlement of refugees facing immediate threats to their life, liberty or physical safety. The Urgent Protection Program ensures that Canada is able to respond to urgent requests from the United Nations Refugee Agency for the resettlement of refugees who are under threat of being killed, returned home, or of being subjected to violence, torture, sexual assault or arbitrary imprisonment.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, temporary measures to restrict entry into Canada were put in place in March 2020. Under these restrictions, most refugees cannot be resettled to Canada. Exemptions exist for refugees whose permanent resident visas and travel documents were issued before Canada’s temporary measures were put in place, as well as refugees in urgent need of protection who hold a National Interest Exemption Letter.
Key resettlement partners – the United Nations Refugee Agency and the International Organization for Migration – have announced that they are resuming resettlement movements. However, only resettled refugees exempt from Canada’s travel restriction measures can travel to Canada at this time.
Human Rights Defenders
Your mandate letter included a commitment to create a new designated refugee stream for human rights defenders at risk. 250 resettled refugee spaces have been added to the 2021 Levels Plan in order to accommodate the resettlement of human rights defenders under the new stream.
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has consulted with various organizations with expertise in the protection of human rights defenders to better understand their roles and the protection needs of this group. Consultations included: Front Line Defenders, ProtectDefenders.eu, Reporters Without Borders, the International Federation of Human Rights and the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders.
Under the new program, human rights defenders at risk will continue to be identified by the United Nations Refugee Agency, as well as new, trusted and authorized referral partners with a mandate to assist human rights defenders.
IRCC does not record refugees’ ethnicity or religion, so there are no specific figures available on the number of Uyghur persons who have been resettled to Canada.
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