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.

Are you working with a representative?

A representative can either:

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

You must

Your representative can

  • provide advice
  • help you prepare documents
  • help you use the portal (in person, by phone or online using screen-sharing technology)

In this case, you must type your name and click the button to submit.

Your representative is submitting your claim for you

How to upload these documents in the portal
You can only upload 1 document in the Use of a representative field on the portal’s Document upload page. You must combine the signed declaration and Use of a Representative forms as 1 scanned file to upload them.

Before your representative can create an account, you both must sign the following documents:

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

Once this is done, your representative must

  • create an account with one of the following:
    • your email address or
    • an email address they create 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

In this case, your representative must type in their name (not yours) and click the button to submit the claim on your behalf.

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.

If you're a Ukrainian national

Find out how you can extend your stay in Canada through the Canada-Ukraine authorization for emergency travel.

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 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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