How Does the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act Work?
The Immigration and Refugee Protection Act requires that every person seeking to enter Canada appear for an examination at the port of entry to determine whether that person has a right to enter Canada, or may become authorized to enter and remain within its borders.
The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) play a vital role in protecting the country’s borders, discouraging and intercepting irregular entry while keeping Canadians safe. The RCMP is responsible for border security in between ports of entry, while the CBSA is responsible for border security at ports of entry and inland.
Making an Asylum Claim in Canada
Individuals can claim asylum in Canada at a port of entry or at an inland CBSA or Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) office. CBSA or IRCC officials will determine whether an individual is eligible to make a claim. There are different factors determining an individual’s eligibility to make a refugee claim. Some of those factors are whether the claimant has committed a serious crime, made a previous claim to Canada or received protection from another country.
All refugee claimants undergo health and security screening, including biographic and biometric checks as well as the initiation of security and criminality checks.
Irregular Crossings Into Canada
Some individuals try to enter Canada illegally between designated ports of entry. This can be dangerous and is a violation of the law. There has been an increase in illegal and irregular crossings during the time that US President Donald Trump gained office in November 2016.
People who are intercepted by the RCMP or local law enforcement after crossing the border illegally are brought to the nearest CBSA port of entry or inland CBSA or IRCC office, whichever is closest. An officer will then conduct an immigration examination, considering whether detention is warranted. At this point, these individuals undergo health checks to address any immediate health needs, as well as security screenings to ensure that they do not pose a threat to Canada and to determine whether they are eligible to make a refugee claim.
If the claim is determined to be eligible, it will be referred to the Refugee Protection Division of the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB) for a hearing. In most cases, the claimant is released on terms and conditions while they await their hearing.
Individuals whose claim is found not to be eligible will be issued a removal order and released on conditions to report for a future removal proceeding. However, the claimant may be offered a Pre-Removal Risk Assessment (PRRA) which will determine the risk the latter would face if returned to their home country.
Waiting for a Decision
In making its decisions, the IRB considers whether the claimant meets the United Nations (UN) definition of a convention refugee or is a person in need of protection. The UN defines Convention refugees as individuals who has a valid fear of persecution based on race, religion, political opinion, nationality or membership of a particular social group.
Once an individual is eligible to make a claim as a refugee claimant in Canada, they may have access to social assistance, education, health services, emergency housing and legal air while a decision is pending. They are also able to apply for a work permit once they have undergone a medical examination. Of all the cases heard, it takes approximately 4 months for a decision to be taken.
Receiving a Decision
Upon receiving a positive decision, claimants receive protected person status. A positive PRRA also results in protected status for all individuals in most cases. This means that they can stay in Canada and apply to become a permanent resident.
If a claim is rejected by the Refugee Protection Division, individuals may be able to appeal the decision to the Refugee Appeal Division of the IRB. If they have no right to appeal with the IRB, they can ask the Federal Court to review the decision. Once all appeals have been exhausted, the claimants are expected to respect the Canadian immigration laws and leave Canada or be removed by the CBSA.
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