Navigating Refugee Claims in Canada

1. Make a claim at any port of entry (airport, seaport, land border)

You can make a claim for refugee protection when you arrive in Canada at any port of entry by completing an eligibility interview with an officer from the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), completing the application package, and providing fingerprints and a photograph.

Normally, you will complete the forms – which are provided by the CBSA officer – in-person when you arrive. However, it is possible that the officer tells you to come back to the port of entry or an inland office for an interview at a future date.

2. Make a claim after arriving in Canada​

You can also make a claim for refugee protection after arriving in Canada. If you choose to make a claim after arriving in Canada, you must submit a complete application including all supporting documentation, as well as the BOC Form, when you make your claim. Refer to the Completing Your Basis of Claim Form page for information about the BOC Form and what is required.

To make your claim after arriving in Canada, you should submit your refugee claim online. If you have already made a claim, you don’t need to resubmit it through the portal. To submit your claim online, you’ll need a scanner or camera to create electronic copies of your documents. You will also need to create your online account, which can be used to submit your claim, and also to check on the status. If you are unable to submit your claim online after arriving in Canada, you may request to submit your refugee claim on paper from inside Canada.

  • If you are working with a representative that is helping you with your claim, they can either help you complete your claim or submit a claim for you. Whoever creates the portal account is the person who must sign and submit the claim. If your representative is submitting a claim for you, both you and your representati​ve must sign a declaration form and upload it to the portal account, authorizing them to make a claim on your behalf.

Declaration – Authorization for representative to submit a refugee claim through the IRCC Portal ​(PDF, 235 KB)

After your claim has been submitted, if the officer decides that your claim is eligible, it is referred to the RPD for a decision. Once your claim has been referred to the RPD you will receive:

  • Refugee Protection Claimant Document, which will help you get access to the Interim Federal Health Program and other services in Canada.
  • Confirmation of Referral letter, which confirms your claim has been referred to the IRB. Along with a Confirmation of Referral, the referring officer will provide you with the Claimant’s Guide. Refer to Important Instructions for Refugee Claimants for additional information.

Refugee claims hold a significant place in Canadian immigration law and policy. Canada is known for its humanitarian approach towards refugees, providing a safe haven for those fleeing persecution and violence in their home countries. In this comprehensive guide, we will navigate the intricate process of making refugee claims in Canada, shedding light on the legal, procedural, and humanitarian aspects that make this system one of the most respected in the world.

Understanding Refugee Claims in Canada

Legal Framework Refugee claims in Canada are primarily governed by international agreements, most notably the United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees. Canada has also developed its own domestic laws and regulations to align with its international commitments.

Who Can Make a Refugee Claim To be eligible for a refugee claim in Canada, individuals must prove that they have a well-founded fear of persecution in their home country based on race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group. This principle is at the heart of Canada’s commitment to protecting refugees.

The Role of a Canadian Lawyer Canadian lawyers play a pivotal role in the refugee claim process. They provide legal representation, guide claimants through the complex application process, and advocate for their rights in hearings and appeals. A skilled lawyer can significantly enhance the chances of a successful claim.

The Refugee Claim Process

Initial Assessment The process begins with an initial assessment by immigration authorities, where the claimant’s eligibility is determined. This assessment is critical, as it decides whether the claim moves forward.

Gathering Evidence Preparing a strong case involves collecting and presenting compelling evidence, including documents, testimonies, and country condition reports that support the claimant’s fear of persecution.

Refugee Hearing If the claim progresses, a refugee hearing is held where the claimant presents their case. Legal representation is crucial at this stage, as lawyers help structure arguments and ensure all relevant evidence is presented.

Appeals In the event of a negative decision, the claimant has the right to appeal. Lawyers can assist with filing appeals and representing claimants in these proceedings.

Challenges and Complexities

While Canada’s refugee system is highly regarded, it is not without challenges. Long processing times, language barriers, and trauma-related issues are among the complexities that claimants may encounter. Skilled legal representation can help navigate these challenges.

Success Stories and the Power of Legal Support

In this section, share success stories of refugee claimants who found safety and a new life in Canada through the refugee system. Highlight the crucial role that Canadian lawyers played in these success stories.


Canada’s commitment to protecting refugees through the refugee claim process reflects its humanitarian values and international obligations. Understanding the process, seeking legal representation, and persevering through challenges are key steps for claimants. The role of Canadian lawyers in supporting these individuals cannot be overstated, as they contribute to making Canada a beacon of hope for those seeking refuge and a fresh start.