What information do I need about my immigration status to qualify for OW?

If you’re a refugee claimant and you can show that you’ve made a refugee claim, you should qualify for Ontario Works (OW) right away. But OW may ask you for proof of your refugee claim status from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). If you can’t get proof because IRCC offices are closed right now, OW should not disqualify you. If you’re denied OW because you can’t get proof, contact a community legal clinic.

If your refugee claim has been rejected, you might still qualify for OW if you can show proof that you have filed:

  • a notice of appeal at the Refugee Appeal Division, or
  • an application for leave and to the Federal Court.

If you’ve made a  for  status, you might be able to get OW. You should get legal advice. To prove that you made an H&C application, you can show confirmation that you’ve paid the processing fee, or a letter from IRCC acknowledging your application. You can also show a letter from the that helped you to file the application. OW might ask for a copy of the forms you submitted with your H&C application.

As a result of COVID-19, CBSA is not removing most people from Canada. But the CBSA will remove you if they think you’re a danger to the public or a threat to security in Canada, or if you tell them that you want to leave.

You will have to explain your situation and provide some proof by email. Contact your community legal clinic for help if you don’t have a legal representative and you’re denied OW.

Sponsored family members and refugees

If you’re a permanent resident who was sponsored by your parent, , or child, your sponsor might have to repay any OW you receive if you are still within your sponsorship ‘undertaking’ period. The undertaking is a promise your sponsor makes to the government that they will support you for a certain period of time. There are different undertaking periods depending on the type of sponsorship.

Type of sponsorship

Undertaking period

Spouse and common law partner

3 years

Dependent children under 22

10 years or until age 25

Dependent children over 22

3 years

Parents and grandparents

10 or 20 years, depending on when you signed the 

If you’ve been sponsored and you need  but you’re still within your sponsorship undertaking period, contact your local community legal clinic for advice.

If you came to Canada as a privately sponsored refugee, your sponsorship group is responsible for supporting you financially for your first year in Canada. After one year, you can apply for OW.

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