CANADA’S REFUGEE SYSTEM
Refugees are people who have fled their countries because of a well-founded fear of persecution and are not able to return home for that reason.
Refugees differ from immigrants in that an immigrant is a person who chooses to settle permanently in another country. Refugees are forced to flee for fear of persecution.
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
Refugees who come to Canada have left their homes, and in many cases they have had to live in refugee camps for many years. When they arrive in Canada, they have to start their lives over again.
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.
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.
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.
Refugees often need help to settle. This is true whether they are resettled from overseas or granted protection in Canada. The Government of Canada works with many partners and stakeholders to provide many types of settlement services. These services help refugees adjust to life in Canada.
Help for resettled refugees
Private sponsors must provide financial and emotional support to any refugees they sponsor for the length of the sponsorship period, or until the refugee can support themselves, if this happens during that period
The sponsor’s support includes help with housing, clothing and food. Most sponsorships last for one year, but some refugees may be able to get help from their sponsors for up to three years.
Blended visa office-referred refugees get six months of Resettlement Assistance Program income support. Private sponsors give up to six months of financial support and up to a year of social and emotional support.
Help for all newcomers, including refugees
Immigration also funds a settlement program that helps newcomers settle and adapt to life in Canada. To deliver these services, we work with provinces and territories, service provider organizations, and other partners and stakeholders.
Access to settlement services continues until individuals become Canadian citizens.