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Shabnam Akrami is the Managing Partner and Founder of Akrami & Associates.

Canada’s Refugee System

Canada’s Refugee System

What are Refugees

Are you or someone you know living in fear of persecution or danger of death in their home country? Are you seeking somewhere safer to live with your family? Canada offers those who are experiencing danger in their home countries a safe place to live and contribute to society. These people are called refugees. Refugees are people who have fled their countries because of a well-founded fear of persecution. They have seen or experienced many horrors in their home countries, and therefore, they are not able to return home.

The major difference between a refugee and an immigrant is the main purpose of coming to Canada. An immigrant is a person who has the “choice” to settle permanently in Canada. A refugee is “forced” to flee.

Canadian Refugee Protection Programs

In order to assist refugees, the Canadian government has divided the Canadian refugee system into two parts:

· the Refugee and Humanitarian Resettlement Program, for people who need protection from outside Canada and

· the In-Canada Asylum Program for people making refugee protection claims from within Canada

Refugee and Humanitarian Resettlement Program

Refugees, in many cases, they have had to live in refugee camps for many years. This is a hardship for refugees, as they have to start their lives over again. In order to help refugees resettle in Canada, the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), along with private sponsors, identifies refugees for resettlement. After the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) has successfully identifies the refugees the UNHCR will carefully examine all resettlement cases to ensure that there are no issues related to security, criminality, or health. That said, processing time for this type of case is normally long.

Private sponsors, also known as Sponsorship Agreement Holders, across the country also help resettle refugees to Canada. They have signed sponsorship agreements with the Government of Canada to help support refugees. Sponsorship Agreement Holders can sponsor refugees themselves, or work with others in the community to do so. Some of the Sponsorship Agreement Holders help resettle refugees on a regular basis.

Other sponsors, also known as Groups of Five and Community Sponsors, are people or groups of five or more Canadian citizens, Registered Indians, or permanent residents who are 18 years of age or older and who live (or have representatives) in the community where the refugees are expected to live. They do not generally sponsor refugees on an ongoing basis.

In-Canada Asylum Program

For people in Canada who have a well-founded fear of persecution or are at risk of torture in their home countries, the Canadian government has provided the In-Canada Asylum Program to help settle the people in need.

However, not everyone is eligible to seek asylum. You will have to meet certain requirements to be eligible for the In-Canada Asylum Program. Some requirements include, not having been convicted of serious criminal offenses or not having had previous refugee claims denied by Canada.

Helping Resettled Refugees

Refugees, whether they are resettled from overseas or granted protection in Canada, often need help to settle. The Government of Canada works with many partners and stakeholders to provide many types settlement services. These services help refugees adapt to their new lifestyle in Canada.

Under the Resettlement Assistance Program, the Government of Canada or Province of Quebec provides government-assisted refugees with necessary services and income support once they are in Canada. The Resettlement Assistance Program provides income support to eligible refugees who cannot pay for their own basic needs. This income support is available for up to one year or until the recipient can financially support themselves, whichever comes first.

The Resettlement Assistance Program not only provides income support to refugees, but also provides also multiple services during the first four to six weeks after refugees get to Canada. The services include:

  • welcoming refugees at the airport or other port of entry
  • helping to find a temporary place or a permanent place to live
  • assessing refugees’ needs
  • information and help getting to know Canada, and
  • referrals to other federal and provincial programs, and to other settlement services.

Private sponsors, also known as Sponsorship Agreement Holders, must provide financial and emotional support to any refugees they sponsor for the length of the sponsorship period, or until the refugee can support themselves. The support includes providing housing, clothing and food. In most cases, the sponsor-refugee support may last for one year, but some refugees may be able to get help from their sponsors for up to three years.

The Canadian government also works with provinces and territories, service provider organizations, and other partners and stakeholders to provide various services that help resettle refugees. Some of the services include but are not limited to:

  • assess the refugees’ settlement needs and link them to services in their community
  • help refugees better understand life in Canada and make informed decisions
  • get language training in English and French, so they have the skills to live in Canada
  • search for and find jobs
  • build community networks with long-time Canadians and established immigrants
  • social support (childcare, transportation, translation and interpretation services, short-term/crisiscounseling, resources for people with disabilities, etc.)

Contact Akrami and Associates

We know becoming a refugee is a long and hard process, but we hope that this article has helped you start your first step into obtaining eligibility. At Akrami & Associates, we have dealt with many cases involving circumstances of delayed applications, and clients needing help to provide the legal documentation and paperwork needed to be provided asylum to be able to live in Canada. In all circumstances, we are able to help you achieve your goals. Please feel free to contact us at Akrami & Associates at our office number: (416) 477-2545, if you have further question and concerns, or if you would like to book a consultation with an immigration professional for further advice and help.

With Akrami & Associates, there is always a way!

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