Claim refugee status from inside Canada: How to apply

Before you make a refugee claim

To make a refugee claim, you must

If you make a claim and you’re not eligible or you’re not in Canada right now, we will refuse your application.

You’re outside Canada

You can’t submit a refugee claim from outside Canada.

Learn more about our immigration programs.

Check your eligibility

Before you make a claim, make sure you meet the eligibility requirements.

On this page

How to make a refugee claim

You must be in Canada to make your refugee claim. You can make your claim in 1 of 2 ways:

  • in person (when you arrive in Canada at a port of entry)
  • online (when you’re already inside Canada)

The information you share in your claim will help us understand

  • your background
  • your family
  • why you want to make a refugee claim

When you make your claim, you can request a work permit at the same time.

To find out how to make your refugee claim, answer some questions about your situation.

How will you make your refugee claim?

Make your claim when you arrive in Canada

You can make a claim for refugee protection at any port of entry when you arrive in Canada. This means an airport, seaport or land border.

A border services officer will ask you to complete the required application forms when you arrive. Normally, you’ll complete the forms at the port of entry.

While at the port of entry, the officer will also

  • ask you questions about your situation
  • collect your documentation and proof of identity
  • take your fingerprints and photo (biometrics)

If the officer decides your refugee claim is eligible

The officer will give you

You have 15 calendar days to complete the basis of claim form and submit it to the IRB’s Refugee Protection Division office listed on your confirmation of referral letter.

If the officer tells you to come back for an interview

The officer will give you

You may have to return to the port of entry or go to an inland office for your interview.

The officer may also tell you to submit your refugee claim online. If you’re told to complete your claim online, the officer will give you instructions. To complete your claim, you’ll need

  • the application number on your acknowledgement of claim letter
  • the interview location given to you by the officer

Submit your claim online from inside Canada

If you’re already inside Canada:

  1. You must submit a claim for yourself and any family members claiming with you at the same time.
    • Choose “Yes” when you’re asked if you want to apply for more than 1 person.
    • You’ll complete separate claims in the portal for each family member.
    • When you’re done the claims, submit them all together.
  2. Use common characters in your answers and file names in the portal to avoid any issues. Common characters allowed in the portal include:

Before you start

Before starting your claim, make sure you have a scanner or camera ready to create electronic copies of your documents.

For each person making a claim (yourself and your family), you’ll

  • answer questions in the online application
  • fill out and upload a copy of the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada’s basis of claim form
  • provide a copy of the passport (in some cases, you may not be asked for this)

You’ll also be able to upload copies of other documents to support your claim.

Depending on your situation, you can

Submit your claim in the IRCC portal

Follow these steps to submit your claim.

1. Get an invitation code

If it’s your first time using the IRCC portal, you need an invitation code to create an account. We’ll ask for your email and send you a code that you can use to sign up.

2. Sign up for a portal account

After we send you your invitation code, use it to create your portal account.

3. Complete the online form

Once you sign in, choose “Make a refugee claim”.

Answer all the questions in the form. When you’re done, you’ll get a list of documents to upload. If your family members are making claims with you, make a separate claim for each of them (and submit them all together).

From the day you start your claim, you’ll have 90 days to complete and submit it.

Need an IRCC portal account?

Sign up to submit your claim

Already have an IRCC Portal account? Sign in

If you can’t submit your claim online

You may be able to submit your claim another way. Find out what to do if you can’t submit your claim online.

If you’re working with a representative

A representative can either:

  • help you complete your claim so you can submit it yourself, or
  • submit a claim for you
Your representative is helping you, but you’ll submit your own claim

In this case, you must type your name and submit the refugee claim yourself.

To do this, you will

In this scenario, your representative can only

  • provide advice
  • help you prepare documents
  • help you use the portal (in person, by phone or online using screen-sharing technology)
Your representative is submitting your claim for you

In this case, your representative must type in their name (not yours) and submit the claim on your behalf, using their own account.

Before your representative creates a portal account

Before your representative can create an account, you must both sign 2 documents

These documents authorize your representative to make a claim on your behalf. Find out why you need both documents signed.

You can only upload 1 document in the Use of a representative field on the portal’s Document upload page. To upload both documents, you must combine the signed declaration and Use of a Representative forms as 1 scanned file.

Submitting the claim

To submit a claim online on your behalf, your representative must

  • create their own account
  • complete all forms
  • upload all documents, including the combined signed declaration form and Use of a Representative form
  • electronically sign (using their name) and submit your claim

You started a claim at a port of entry

If you started a claim when you arrived in Canada at a port of entry, but the border services officer didn’t decide on your claim, you may have been

  • scheduled for an interview, or
  • told to complete your claim online

If you were scheduled for an interview

Do not miss your interview. This is when we decide if your claim is eligible.

Find out more about what happens after you make a claim at the port of entry.

If you were told to complete your claim online

Follow the instructions the border services officer gave you. You’ll submit your refugee claim through the Canadian Refugee Protection Portal. To complete your claim online you’ll need

  • the application number on the acknowledgement of claim letter the officer gave you
  • the interview location the officer gave you

Before you start

Before starting your claim, make sure you have a scanner or camera ready to create electronic copies of your documents.

For each person making a claim (yourself and your family), you’ll

  • answer questions in the online application
  • be able to upload copies of other documents to support your claim

You won’t need to submit copies of your passports or any other required forms since you already provided these at the port of entry when you started your claim.

Depending on your situation, you can

Read the portal instruction guide

Before you submit your claim online, read the instruction guide for the Canadian Refugee Protection Portal. The guide will help you complete your claim.

Create a portal account

You need an account to submit a claim online. You can also use your account to check the status of your claim.

Create an account

If you’re working with a representative

A representative can either:

  • help you complete your claim so you can submit it yourself, or
  • submit a claim for you
Your representative is helping you, but you’ll submit your own claim

In this case, you must type your name and submit the refugee claim yourself.

To do this, you will

In this scenario, your representative can only

  • provide advice
  • help you prepare documents
  • help you use the portal (in person, by phone or online using screen-sharing technology)
Your representative is submitting your claim for you

In this case, your representative must type in their name (not yours) and submit the claim on your behalf, using their own account.

Before your representative creates a portal account

Before your representative can create an account, you must both sign 2 documents

These documents authorize your representative to make a claim on your behalf. Find out why you need both documents signed.

You can only upload 1 document in the Use of a representative field on the portal’s Document upload page. To upload both documents, you must combine the signed declaration and Use of a Representative forms as 1 scanned file.

Submitting the claim

To submit a claim online on your behalf, your representative must

  • create their own account
  • complete all forms
  • upload all documents, including the combined signed declaration form and Use of a Representative form
  • electronically sign (using their name) and submit your claim

You started an online claim on or before September 12, 2022

You’re submitting your claim online through the Canadian Refugee Protection Portal. You have until December 31, 2022 to submit your claim through this portal.

If you already submitted your claim, you don’t need to submit another one.

Before you continue your claim

To complete your claim online, make sure you have a scanner or camera ready to create electronic copies of your documents.

For each person making a claim (yourself and your family), you’ll

  • answer questions in the online application
  • fill out and upload a copy of the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada’s basis of claim form
  • provide a copy of the passport or a document explaining why you don’t have the passport (for example, it’s missing or stolen)

You can also upload copies of other documents to support your claim.

Depending on your situation, you can

Read the portal instruction guide

Before you submit your claim online, read the instruction guide for the Canadian Refugee Protection Portal. The guide will help you complete your claim.

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Sign in to your portal account

You need an account to submit a claim online. You can also use your account to check the status of your claim.

Sign in to your account

If you’re working with a representative

A representative can either:

  • help you complete your claim so you can submit it yourself, or
  • submit a claim for you
Your representative is helping you, but you’ll submit your own claim

In this case, you must type your name and submit the refugee claim yourself.

To do this, you will

  • continue your claim using the account you created either on or before September 12, 2022
  • complete the questionnaire
  • upload all documents, including a signed Use of a Representative form (PDF, 648.31 KB)
  • electronically sign and submit your own claim

In this scenario, your representative can only

  • provide advice
  • help you prepare documents
  • help you use the portal (in person, by phone or online using screen-sharing technology)
Your representative is submitting your claim for you

In this case, your representative must type in their name (not yours) and submit the claim on your behalf, using their own account.

Before your representative creates a portal account

You and your representative must have both signed these 2 documents before your representative created an account

These documents authorize your representative to make a claim on your behalf. Find out why you need both documents signed.

You can only upload 1 document in the Use of a representative field on the portal’s Document upload page. To upload both documents, you must combine the signed declaration and Use of a Representative forms as 1 scanned file.

Submitting the claim

To submit a claim online on your behalf, your representative must

  • have an account under one of the following:
    • your email address or
    • an email address they created and monitor specifically for your claim
  • complete all forms
  • upload all documents, including the combined signed declaration form and Use of a Representative form
  • electronically sign (using their name) and submit your claim

You started a claim online on or after September 13, 2022

You need to sign in to your account in the IRCC portal to complete and submit your claim. You have 90 days from when you started your claim to submit it.

Sign in to your account

Get a work or study permit while waiting for a decision on your refugee claim

To avoid delays receiving your permit, make sure we always have your current address. You can change your address online.

Get a work permit

If you make your claim at a port of entry

You can request to apply for a work permit while you’re with the border services officer. You won’t get your work permit while at the port of entry. If you’re eligible for one, you’ll receive it after you complete your medical exam.

If you submit your refugee claim online

You can request a work permit in your online application. We’ll only issue you a work permit if

  • we decide your claim is eligible to be referred to the IRB and
  • you complete your medical exam

Learn more about who is eligible and how to apply for a work permit.

Get a study permit

You can’t request to apply for a study permit when you submit your refugee claim. You must apply for a study permit separately. Find out who is eligible and how to apply for a study permit.

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