What happens if I make a refugee claim from inside Canada?

1. Sign into the online refugee portal

You must have an account to use the refugee portal.

If your lawyer is submitting the claim for you, they must create an account and both of you must sign a Declaration form that allows your lawyer to submit documents for you.

If you're submitting your own claim, you must create the account.

You can use only one email address to communicate with Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) through the portal. Usually, your lawyer creates the account using your email address. It's very important that you check your email every day for communication from IRCC. Check your junk folder too, in case the email goes there.

To start your refugee claim, you must enter information into the refugee portal, including details about your:

  • identity
  • family
  • travel documents
  • job history
  • address history
  • travel to Canada

You must also upload copies of your travel documents and identification into the portal. If you don't have a travel document or any identification, you will have to include a statement that explains why.

Follow these steps to open and save an IRCC form in PDF format, using Adobe Acrobat Reader for both PC and Mac users. You can't open the forms on your phone or tablet.

Basis of Claim (BOC) form

You must also complete your Basis of Claim (BOC) form and upload it to the portal.

For more information on the BOC and how to fill it out, read What is a BOC? and How do I fill out my BOC?

All of the information you provide must be complete, true, and correct.

If you make a mistake on your BOC or in the information you enter in the refugee portal, this can affect the outcome of your refugee claim. You might not be able to stay in Canada.

Updates about your refugee claim

Once you've uploaded your BOC, you'll receive an email from IRCC that says an update has been made to your account. The update includes a record of the information you entered into the portal. The update does not include a copy of your BOC, so make sure you keep your own copy in a safe place.

Usually, after a week or so, you'll receive another email from IRCC with general information about the refugee claim process and specific information for you, including:

  • instructions about getting a medical examination, including a list of doctors and a medical information form, and
  • an acknowledgment of claim letter that you can use to show you're eligible for Interim Federal Health (IFH). This is not the same thing as a decision that your refugee claim is eligible to be heard at the Refugee Board.

These documents allow you to get health care and social assistance, and to enroll your children in school while you're waiting for your hearing. You must schedule your medical examination  within 30 days of receiving the medical instructions.

You'll receive other updates in the refugee portal about:

  • when and where your eligibility interview will happen, and
  • when to get your fingerprints and photo taken by IRCC, called biometrics.

Your eligibility interview and biometrics may happen at the same time or at separate appointments with IRCC.

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