Claim refugee status from inside Canada: Who can apply

Eligibility

Some people are not eligible to claim refugee protection in Canada.

Note: If you’re under a removal order, you can’t make a refugee claim.

Officers who review your refugee claim decide if it will be referred to the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB). The IRB is an independent board that makes decisions on immigration and refugee matters.

The IRB decides who is a Convention refugee or a person in need of protection.

Convention refugees are outside their home country or the country they normally live in. They’re not able to return because of a well-founded fear of persecution based on

  • race
  • religion
  • political opinion
  • nationality
  • being part of a social group, such as women or people of a particular sexual orientation

A person in need of protection is a person in Canada who can’t return to their home country safely. This is because, if they return, they may face

  • danger of torture
  • risk to their life
  • risk of cruel and unusual treatment or punishment

Your refugee claim may not be eligible to be referred to the IRB if you

  • are recognized as a Convention refugee by another country that you can return to
  • were granted protected person status in Canada
  • arrived via the Canada–United States (US) border
  • are not admissible to Canada on security grounds or because of criminal activity or human rights violations
  • made a previous refugee claim that was not found eligible
  • made a previous refugee claim that was rejected by the IRB
  • abandoned or withdrew a previous refugee claim

The IRB website has more information on making an asylum claim in Canada.

Safe Third Country Agreement

Canada has an agreement with the US that says people who want to make a refugee claim must do so in the first safe country they arrive in.

This means, if you enter Canada from the US at a land border, you can’t make a refugee claim in Canada. In some cases, this rule does not apply (for example, if you have family in Canada).

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