Can I make a refugee claim in Canada?

1. Learn who can get refugee protection in Canada

For Canada to accept you as a refugee, you must be either a:

  • , or
  • .

Convention refugee

You might be a Convention refugee if you can't return to your home country because you're afraid that you'll be persecuted there.

Persecuted means that you're likely to experience repeated and serious:

  • harm,
  • mistreatment,
  • abuse,
  • harassment,
  • punishment,
  • discrimination, or
  • violations of your most basic human rights.

It must be likely that you will experience some or all of these things if you return to your home country.

And you must have a good reason to fear you'll be persecuted for one or more of the following reasons:

  • your race
  • your religion
  • your nationality
  • your political opinion
  • your membership in a social group, which includes women who have experienced domestic violence, people who are persecuted because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, and other groups

You don't have to show that you've already been persecuted. But you do have to show that there's a serious possibility you'll be persecuted if you return home.

Person in need of protection

You might be a person in need of protection if you can't return to your home country because you'll face at least one of the following risks:

  • torture,
  • a risk to your life, or
  • a risk of cruel and unusual treatment or punishment.

If you claim there is a risk to your life or a risk of cruel and unusual treatment or punishment, you also have to show that:

  • the risk is specific to you, and you're at a greater risk than other people in your country who face a similar risk
  • the risk is not because of a law, such as a punishment for committing a crime, unless the law goes against international human rights standards
  • the risk is not because there is no medical care in your country, unless you can't get care because you're being persecuted or discriminated against

What else you need to prove

To be either a Convention refugee or a person in need of protection, you have to show that both of the following statements are true:

  • The government in your country can't or won't protect you. This means you don't have “state protection”. If you're afraid of the government, the military, or the police, it's important that you explain this.
  • You don't have an “internal flight alternative” or a place in your country where you could live safely and where it's reasonable for you to go.

You might also have to answer questions about when and how you left your country, and how long it took you to make a refugee claim in Canada, especially if there were delays.

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