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

To make a refugee claim, you need to submit a complete application from inside Canada. Your application will help us understand

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

The instructions to submit an application depend on when you make your refugee claim. There are 2 ways you can make your claim:

  • when you arrive at the border
  • after you’re already inside Canada

When you make your refugee claim, you can also apply to work or study while you wait for a decision.

Option 1: 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 shown on your confirmation of referral letter.

If the officer tells you to come back to the port of entry or an inland office for an interview

The officer will give you

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

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

Option 2: Submit your claim online after you arrive in Canada

You should submit your claim online through the Canadian Refugee Protection Portal if

  • you’re already in Canada, or
  • a border services officer told you to submit your claim online

If you already made a claim, you don’t need to resubmit it through the portal.

Make sure you have what you need

To submit your claim online, you’ll need a scanner or camera to create electronic copies of your documents.

If you’re working with a representative

A representative can either help you complete your claim or submit a claim for you. Whoever creates the portal account is the person who must sign and submit the claim. Make sure you know what a representative can do for you.

Create your online account

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

Create an account

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.

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 the 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 completed 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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