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

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What happens if I make a refugee claim from inside Canada?
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CLEO (Community Legal Education Ontario / Éducation juridique communautaire Ontario)

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What happens if I make a refugee claim from inside Canada?
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Reviewed: 
May 15, 2019
Answer

If you’re already inside Canada and you want to make a refugee claim, you should do it as soon as possible. If you wait too long before you make your claim, it might seem like you’re not really afraid to return to your country. In your claim, you should explain any delay in leaving your country and any delay in making a claim in Canada.

To make a refugee claim from inside Canada, you need to go to the local Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) office near you. Take your completed application forms with you and your passport or other ID documents to prove your identity.

At the IRCC office, you will get an appointment for an interview with an immigration officer. You won’t get an appointment if your forms are not complete.

At the interview, the officer will:

  • review your forms  
  • review your identity documents
  • review your immigration history
  • complete a security check

The officer only decides if you’re eligible to make a claim. They don’t decide if your claim should be accepted.

If you’re eligible to make a claim, the officer sends your claim to the Refugee Board for a hearing to decide if you’re a Convention Refugee or a person in need of protection.

In most cases, if you’re not eligible to make a refugee claim, arrangements will be made for you to be removed from Canada.

Risk of detention

You might be detained at your eligibility interview. Some reasons an immigration officer might detain you include:

  • they need to confirm your identity
  • they think you’re a security threat in Canada
  • they need time to get travel documents to remove you from Canada and they don’t think you won’t show up for your removal

You have the right to know the reason you’re being detained. You also have the right to a hearing within 48 hours of being detained and the right to hire a legal representative.

Legal help

You should try to get legal advice before your eligibility interview. A lawyer can help you figure out if you’re eligible to make a claim, fill out the forms, and prepare for your hearing.

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