Canada’s Refugee System

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. Refugees are people who have fled their countries because of a well-founded fear of persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group or political opinion, or risk to life, cruel and unusual punishment, or danger of torture. They have seen or experienced many horrors. Refugees are not willing like other immigrants to enter and stay in Canada. Instead, they are forced to flee from their countries.

Sponsoring Refugees

The Private Sponsorship of Refugees Program provides that eligible sponsors may help refugees from abroad who qualify to come to Canada. A sponsor’s primary role is to support the refugees with housing, clothing, food, as well as social and emotional support. The following sponsors are eligible to sponsor refugees from abroad: sponsorship agreement holders, groups of five, community sponsors, or private sponsors and the Government of Canada work together to support a refugee. These sponsors can only sponsor an applicant who already has refugee status.

Refugee Claims in Canada

Refugees who already have arrived in Canada may be eligible to claim protection if they fear persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group or political opinion or would be in danger if they had to leave Canada. Dangers may include torture, a risk to life, or a risk of cruel and unusual treatment or punishment. Refugees can make an asylum claim in Canada at a port of entry or at an inland Canada Border Services Agency or Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada office.

Interim Federal Health Program (IFHP)

Resettled refugees, protected persons in Canada, and refugee claimants are eligible for the Interim Federal Health Program (IFHP). IFHP provides limited, temporary coverage of health-care benefits for resettled refugees, protected persons in Canada, and refugee claimants if they don’t have provincial, territorial, or private health-care coverage. IFHP provides basic, supplemental and prescription drug coverage. Refugee claimants waiting for a decision and ineligible refugee claimants can also benefit from IFHP coverage of the cost of one Immigration Medical Exam.

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