The Canadian refugee system has two main streams: 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 inside Canada.
A refugee is a person who has fled from the native country because of a well-founded fear of danger and persecution. The refugee system in Canada takes care of people who are not able to return home because they have experienced or seen many horrors.
Don’t confuse refugees with immigrants, because these are two different groups of people. Immigrants are people who choose to settle permanently in another country, but refugees are forced to run away from dangerous circumstances.
The Canadian refugee system has two main parts:
- The In-Canada Asylum Program for people making refugee protection claims from within Canada
- The Refugee and Humanitarian Resettlement Program, for people who need protection from outside Canada
In-Canada Asylum Program
The program works to provide protection for refugees in Canada who are at risk of of cruel or unusual punishment, torture in their home countries or have a well-founded fear of persecution.
Bear in mind that not everyone is qualified to seek asylum. For instance, people that have been convicted of serious criminal offenses or had previous refugee claims that were denied by Canada are not eligible to make a claim.
Refugee and Humanitarian Resettlement Program
Refugees who come to Canada have forcefully left their homes and have to start everything over again. The United Nations Refugee Agency, also known as UNHCR, along with private sponsors, help refugees to resettle. But a person cannot apply directly to Canada for resettlement after their identification as it takes time to process the case.
Besides, there are people or groups in the community who have come together (Sponsorship Agreement Holders, Groups of Five and Community Sponsors) to sponsor refugees themselves or work with others in the community to do so. The Blended Visa Office-Referred (BVOR) Program matches refugees identified by the UNHCR with private sponsors in Canada.
Help for all newcomers, including refugees
The government also funds a special settlement program that helps newcomers to adapt to life and settle in Canada. To provide these services, they work with:
- Territories and provinces,
- Service provider organizations.
- Other stakeholders and partners.
The settlement program services include help in:
- Finding out their settlement needs and linking them to services in their community.
- Better understanding life in Canada and making informed decisions.
- Getting language training in English and French, so they have the skills to live in Canada.
- Searching for and finding jobs.
- Building community networks with long-time Canadians and established immigrants.
- Finding support services which help with childcare, finding translation and interpretation services, using transportation, finding resources for people with disabilities, and accessing crisis/short-term counseling.
Access to settlement services is available until an individual becomes a citizen of Canada.