Refugees are people who have fled their country due to a well-founded fear of persecution. They can’t go home. They have witnessed or suffered many horrors.

Refugees are different from immigrants. An immigrant is a person who chooses to settle permanently in another nation. The refugees were forced to flee.

Canadian refugee protection programs

The Canadian asylum system consists of two main parts:

  • Humanitarian and refugee resettlement program, for people in need of protection from outside Canada
  • Canadian Refugee Program for asylum seekers within Canada

Humanitarian and Refugee Resettlement Program

The refugees who arrived in Canada have left their homes and in many cases have lived in refugee camps for years. When they arrive in Canada, they have to start their lives all over again.

The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) in cooperation with private donors, identifies refugees for resettlement. Not everyone can directly apply for resettlement in Canada. Once recognized, cases take time to resolve.

Private donors from across the country are also helping to resettle refugees in Canada. Some do it constantly. They have signed funding agreements with the Government of Canada to help the refugees. These groups are known as endorsement contract holders.

Sponsorship agreement holders can help refugees on their own or work with other members of the community to do so.

Other sponsors, called groups of five and community donors, are people or groups from the community who come together to care for refugees. In general, they do not sponsor refugees on an ongoing basis.

Under our law, we must carefully evaluate all resettlement cases. This ensures that there are no security, crime, or health issues. We are working with security partners to get this done as quickly as possible.

Asylum program in Canada

The Refugee Program aims to provide refugee protection to people in Canada:

  • Has an underlying fear of abuse
  • Risk of being subjected to torture or cruel or unusual punishment in your country of origin

Not everyone has the right to apply for asylum. For example, people are not eligible to file a complaint if they have:

  • Have been convicted of a felony
  • Canada has previously denied asylum.

Integration services

Refugees often need help settling in. This is true whether they are resettled from abroad or are granted protection in Canada. The Government of Canada works with a variety of partners and stakeholders to provide a wide range of immigration services. These services help inductees adjust to a new life in Canada.

Help for resettled refugees

Under the Resettlement Assistance Program, the Government of Canada or the Province of Quebec helps refugees obtain government assistance with basic services and income support while in Canada. It helps them settle down.

Refugees receive this income support for up to one year or until they can support themselves, whichever comes first. Canada offers Resettlement Assistance Program income assistance to eligible clients who are unable to meet their basic needs.

Basic welfare rates in each province and territory help guide the amount refugees receive for housing, food and other things.

The resettlement assistance program also provides these services in the first four to six weeks after the client arrives in Canada:

  • Greet them at the airport or other point of entry
  • Assistance in finding temporary housing
  • Help in finding permanent residence
  • Assess your needs
  • Information and help to get to know Canada
  • Referrals to other federal and provincial programs and other settlement services.

Sponsor support includes housing, clothing, and food assistance. Most grants are for one year, but some refugees may receive assistance from their sponsor for up to three years.

Refugees referred by the Joint Visa Office receive six months of RAP income support. Private donors provide financial support for up to six months and social and emotional support for up to a year.