Refugee immigration process
Refugees are people who have fled their countries because of a well-founded fear of persecution. They are not able to return home. They have seen or experienced many horrors. A refugee is different from an immigrant. An immigrant is a person who chooses to settle permanently in another country. Refugees are forced to flee.
How Canada’s refugee system works Canadian refugee protection programs  
The Canadian refugee system has two main parts: 
  • 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 within Canada  
Refugee and Humanitarian Resettlement Program
The United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), along with private sponsors, identifies refugees for resettlement. A person cannot apply directly to Canada for resettlement. After they are identified, it takes time to process the cases.
Private sponsors across the country also help resettle refugees to Canada. Some do this on an ongoing basis. They have signed sponsorship agreements with the Government of Canada to help support refugees. These groups are known as Sponsorship Agreement Holders. Sponsorship Agreement Holders can sponsor refugees themselves, or work with others in the community to do so.
Other sponsors, known as Groups of Five and Community Sponsors, are people or groups in the community who have come together to sponsor refugee(s). They do not generally sponsor refugees on an ongoing basis.
The Blended Visa Office-Referred (BVOR) Program matches refugees identified by the UNHCR with private sponsors in Canada.
Under our laws, we must carefully screen all resettlement cases. This makes sure that there are no issues related to security, criminality, or health. We work with our security partners to complete this work as quickly as possible.
In-Canada Asylum Program
The asylum program works to provide refugee protection to people in Canada who: have a well-founded fear of persecution or are at risk of torture, or cruel or unusual punishment in their home countries
Not everyone is eligible to seek asylum. For example, people are not eligible to make a claim if they have:
  • been convicted of serious criminal offences or
  • had previous refugee claims denied by Canada.
Help for resettled refugees
Under the Resettlement Assistance Program, the Government of Canada or Province of Quebec helps government-assisted refugees with essential services and income support once they are in Canada. This helps them to settle. The refugee gets this income support for up to one year or until they can support themselves, whichever comes first. Canada provides Resettlement Assistance Program income support to eligible clients who cannot pay for their own basic needs. The Resettlement Assistance Program also provides these services during the first four to six weeks after clients get to Canada:
  • welcoming them at the airport or other port of entry
  • helping to find a temporary place to live
  • helping to find a permanent place to live
  • information and help getting to know Canada, referrals to other  federal and provincial programs, and to other settlement services.