Canada offers refugee protection to people in Canada who face persecution in their home country or the country where they normally live, or who would face persecution if they returned to that country.

You can make a refugee claim within Canada when you arrive by land, sea or air.

You can make a refugee claim outside of Canada, if you are sponsored by the government or a private group.

The Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) makes decisions about refugee claims. They decide if you are a Convention refugee or a person in need of protection.

Convention refugee is someone with a well-founded fear of persecution based on:

  • Race;
  • Religion;
  • Political opinion;
  • Nationality; or
  • Membership in a particular social group (such as, women or people of a particular sexual orientation).

person in need of protection is someone who faces the following dangers if they returned to their home country or country where they normally live:

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

Refugee Claims Within Canada

The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) decides if you are eligible to make a refugee claim in Canada. If you are determined “not eligible,” you may have other options.

For more information on making a claim from within Canada you can read How is a refugee claim decision made?

Refugee Claims Outside of Canada

Since November 5, 2011, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has not been accepting new applications for the Source Country Class.

People who are sponsored by the government or by a private group to come to Canada are called resettled refugees. People in this category are granted permanent residency (landed status) when they arrive in Canada. The 2 classes of resettled refugees are:

  • Convention Refugees Abroad Class
  • Country of Asylum Class

Also, some refugees apply for resettlement in Canada by contacting a local United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) office or a Canadian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate. Find out more about how to sponsor a refugee.

Your Rights

Refugee claimants, Convention refugees and persons in need of protection have certain rights and may be able to access certain government funded services such as :


In some cases, you may be able to apply for employment authorization to work while you are waiting for a decision on your claim. Usually, only people who cannot live without public assistance are usually eligible for employment authorization.


You can also apply for student authorization to attend school while you are waiting for a decision on your claim. If you have minor children, they will automatically be eligible to attend school when you arrive in Canada.

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