The Refugee Process

Romero House primarily serves refugee claimants who are newly arrived in Canada.

Making a Refugee Claim

A refugee claim can be made either to Canada Border Service Agency at the border upon arrival in Canada (Port of Entry claim) or to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada at an inland immigration office (Inland Claim).

If the applicant is found to be eligible to make a refugee claim, the case will be referred to the Immigration and Refugee Board. A person who has reached this stage of the process is referred to as a ‘refugee claimant’.  They will be issued a Refugee Protection Claim Document that will serve as an identity document.  This entitles them to access services such as: social assistance, health insurance, English classes for adults and school for children. Access to support to pay for lawyer’s fees is accessed through legal aid and the amount that is covered depends on the province of residence.

Refugee claimants have their claims assessed by an independent decision maker, a board member at the Immigration and Refugee Board. These hearings generally take place 18-24 months after the claim is referred, but this can vary.

If a claim is accepted, the person receives the status of a Protect Person and can apply for Permanent Residence.  If the claim is rejected, the person may pursue other options such as an appeal or Judicial Review at the Federal Court.

Navigating the refugee system can be confusing. Community Legal Education Ontario has created a clear flow chart to help understand the process:

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