Yesterday, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (“CIC“) began retroactively closing existing Pre-Removal Risk Assessment (“PRRA“) applications for which Bill C-31’s 12-month bar applies.
Bill C-31 amended the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act’s (“IRPA“) provisions regarding who was ineligible to apply for a PRRA. IRPA now provides that:
112(2) .. a person may not apply for [a PRRA] if
(b.1) subject to subsection (2.1), less than 12 months have passed since their claim for refugee protection was last rejected — unless it was deemed to be rejected under subsection 109(3) or was rejected on the basis of section E or F of Article 1 of the Refugee Convention — or determined to be withdrawn or abandoned by the Refugee Protection Division or the Refugee Appeal Division;
(c) less than 12 months have passed since their last application for [a PRRA] was rejected or determined to be withdrawn or abandoned by the Refugee Protection Division or the Minister.
CIC will be closing PRRA and subsequent PRRA applications that are currently in its inventory for which a previous Immigration and Refugee Board (“IRB“) or PRRA decision (rejected, abandoned or withdrawn) has been made within the last 12 months (August 15, 2011 to August 14, 2012) and for which a country exemption does not apply.
The countries that are currently exempted from the 12-month PRRA bar are the following: Central African Republic, Egypt, Guinea-Bissau, Libya, Mali, Somalia, Sudan, and Syria.
However, the list of countries that are exempt from the 12-month bar applies only to cases for which an IRB or PRRA decision (rejected, withdrawn or abandoned) was rendered between August 15, 2011 and August 14,Read more ›
Bill C-31, also known as the Protecting Canada’s Immigration System Act introduced strict timelines to Canada’s refugee determination process. The Canadian government has now introduced the Regulations which provide specifics as to the new timelines.
Time limits for scheduling the first-level hearing, for filing and perfecting an appeal and for making a decision on an appeal will be as follows:
- The Basis of Claim document shall be submitted not later than 15 days after the referral of the claim to the Immigration and Refugee Board, if the claim is made at a Port of Entry. If the claim is made at an inland office, the required documents and information would have to be submitted at the time of the eligibility interview. Port of Entry claimants would be given an extra 15 days to complete the Basis of Claim, which Inland claimants must submit at the time of the eligibility interview.
- Hearings at the Refugee Protection Division shall be scheduled for a date that is not later than 30 days after the claim is referred for inland Designated Country of Origin claimants, not later than 45 days after the claim is referred for Port of Entry Designated Country of Origin claimants, and not later than 60 days after the claim is referred for non-Designated Country of Origin claimants.
- In the case of all claims entitled to an appeal to the Refugee Appeal Division, appeals shall be filed and perfected not later than 15 working days after the claimant or the Minister receives the notice of a decision and the reasons for the decision from the Refugee Protection Division.
- A decision on an appeal shall be made by the Refugee Appeal Division not later than 90 days after the day on which the appeal is perfected.
For example, refugee claimants from countries where apostasy is a crime (such as Iran) can credibly claim persecution based on the fact that they converted from Islam regardless of what their motivations for converting were.
Even where claimants convert for opportunistic reasons, they are still entitled to protection if they can establish a well-founded fear of persecution on a Convention ground.
The decision re-iterated the Ghasemian v Canada (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration), 2003 FC 1266 ruling which stated that:
Mrs. Ghasemian says that the Board also erred when it looked at her motive for conversion and applied the wrong test by rejecting her claim on the basis that it was not made in good faith i.e. she did not convert for a purely religious motive. She relies on the decision of the English Court of Appeal inDanian v. Secretary of State for the Home Department,  E.W.J. No. 5459 online: QL.
In that case, the English Court of Appeal found that even though Mr. Danian’s “refugee sur place” claim was based on outspoken political opinions, allegedly made for the sole purpose of supporting his claim, the tribunal still had the obligation to determine whether he would face persecution if returned to his country of origin.
Although the decision in Danian, above, is not binding on this Court, I find its reasoning quite persuasive and agree that opportunistic claimants are still protected under the Convention if they can establish a genuine and well-founded fear of persecution for a Convention ground.
I note,Read more ›
CTV Ottawa is reporting that in 2011 Canada was one of the top 10 global refugee destinations.
The list is:
- South Africa: 110,000
- U.S.: 76,000
- France: 52,100
- Germany: 45,700
- Italy: 30,300
- Sweden: 29,600
- Belgium: 26,000
- U.K.: 25,500
- Canada: 25,000
- Ghana: 20,100
It’s interesting that both Belgium and Sweden took in more refugees than Canada, despite having a fraction of the population and landmass that we do.Read more ›
Under the PRSP, there are three types of sponsors. The first are Sponsorship Agreement Holders (“SAHs“). SAHs are local, regional, and national incorporated organizations that have signed multi-year agreements with Citizenship and Immigration Canada for the purpose of submitting sponsorship cases on a regular basis. The second are Groups of Five (“G5s“), which are five or more Canadian citizens or permanent residents who live in the applicant’s expected community of settlement who sponsor refugees. They account for 40% of the PRSP. The third are Community Sponsors (“CS“), which are organizations that have not signed formal agreements.
As of 2012, the PRSP has brought over 200,000 refugees and persons in refugee-like situations to Canada. As the PRSP has grown, so too didthe backlog and the refusal rate. Some missions abroad currently have waiting lists exceeding five years. Excluding Iraq, the average G5 approval rate is only 37%.
The proposed changes to the PRSP were meant to address this. The changes included requiring that the foreign national’s application for protection from abroad be submitted at the same time as the sponsor’s application. As well, the proposed amendments would limit G5s and CSs to submitting applications for persons recognized by either the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (“UNHCR“) or a foreign state as a refugee. An additional rationale for the changes to the PRSP to that in the Gazette can be found in the Memorandum to the Minister in which Citizenship and Immigration recommended the changes to Minister Kenney.
When the changes were announced, the Canadian Bar Association expressed concerns with the requirement that privately sponsored refugees had to be recognized as refugees by the UNHCR.Read more ›
Much of the media attention towards Bill C-31 – the Protecting Canada’s Immigration System Act – has been focused on its shortening of the time periods for processing refugee claims and its removal of some appeal rights for refugee claimants that were supposed to be introduced under the Balanced Refugee Reform Act. This past week, members of the immigration bar raised concerns about another questionable change. In short, Bill C-31 will make it so that refugees who became permanent residents of Canada will lose their permanent residence status if their refugee status ceases.
Currently, the Immigration and Refugee Board may cease a person’s refugee status. Amongst other reasons, it may do so if the reasons for which the person sought refugee protection have ceased to exist, or if the person reavails himself to the protection of his country of origin. Until now, the cessation of refugee status did not result in the loss of permanent resident status. Accordingly, ceasing a refugee’s refugee status was rarely pursued where the refugee had become a permanent resident.
Bill C-31, however, changes this. It provides that when the IRB ceases a refugee’s refugee status, then the former refugee also loses his/her permanent resident status. Bill C-31 also provides that such an individual would be inadmissible toCanada. Through omission it also provides that there will be no appeal to the Immigration Appeal Division, meaning that humanitarian & compassionate grounds (such as hardship and establishment inCanada) cannot be considered in deciding whether to revoke the person’s permanent resident status.
This will apply to refugees who made their claims in Canadaand to those who were resettled to Canadafrom refugee camps from abroad. It would apply to refugees who recently obtained status, and to refugees who became permanent residents many,Read more ›
On February 16, Jason Kenney and the Conservative government introduced Bill C-31, the Protecting Canada’s Immigration Act. The Act makes many reforms to Canada’s refugee system, and amends previous amendments to Canada’s immigration legislation contained in the Balanced Refugee Reform Act which have not yet come into affect. Bill C-31 was greeted by many refugee lawyers and advocates with much criticism, and was received with particular indignation from the New Democratic Party.
It is not difficult to see why the NDP was outraged by the introduction of Bill C-31. Less than two years ago, the Conservatives and the NDP worked together to introduce the Balanced Refugee Reform Act. Its passage was seen as a good example of compromise, and how the parties in a minority Parliament can cooperate to introduce what was generally viewed as good legislation. I would also imagine that the NDP spent some political capital with its base by cooperating with the Conservatives and to makeCanada’s refugee system stricter.
Minister Kenney has now thrown all of that to the wind.
By abandoning the grand compromise that was the Balanced Refugee Reform Act, Mr. Kenney has taken several political risks. First, he has abandoned any good-will that he had with the NDP. Should the Conservatives ever find themselves in a minority government again, I doubt that they will find the NDP being very willing to work with them in the same away as they did in 2012.
Second, he has provided the NDP with the ability to criticize the upcoming reforms to Canada’s refugee system. Because the NDP were co-drafters of the Balanced Refugee Reform Act, they could not really criticize the upcoming changes because they themselves owned the amendments.Read more ›
A myth exists that it costs Canada a lot of money to resettle refugees from abroad. “Why,” I am sometimes asked, “should my tax dollars pay to fly someone from Rwanda to Canada?”
The short answer is: they don’t.
The longer answer is that the cost of transporting refugees from abroad to Canada is shared between the International Organization for Migration, and the Government of Canada. The Government of Canada’s portion is $10,000, and is actually structured as a loan to the refugee through the Immigration Loans Program. In other words, the refugee is expected to repay the Government of Canada for transporting him/her to Canada.
Surrey mayor Dianne Watts recently highlighted the Immigration Loans Program when she called on the federal government to drop the Transportation Loan to refugees. The Province story on her statements summarized the loan as:
Officials with Citizenship and Immigration Canada told The Province that individual refugees may be responsible to repay up to $10,000 per person under the Immigrant Loans Program to cover the costs of medical examinations abroad, travel documents and transportation to Canada.
“The maximum amount of the loan the refugee would pay is $10,000, as there’s a cap,” said a CIC official. “Loans in excess of that amount are paid for by the IOM [International Organization for Migration]. So the refugee pays zero dollars to $10,000, then IOM would pay the remainder if it’s over $10,000.
The loan is not merely a black hole of non-repayment. In a 2008 Report to Parliament, the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Canada (the most recent report that I could find) stated that the repayment rate currently exceed 91%. » Read more about: Refugees and Transportation Loans »Read more ›
When can military deserters can claim refugee status?Read more ›
Last updated on January 11th, 2020
One issue that applicants, and in particular refugee claimants, face is that their stories often sound implausible to third party observers.
Valtchev v Canada (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration), 2001 FCT 776 is the leading decision on implausibility findings in the refugee context. There, Justice Muldoon stated:
A tribunal may make adverse findings of credibility based on the implausibility of an applicant’s story provided the inferences drawn can be reasonably said to exist. However, plausibility findings should be made only in the clearest of cases, i.e., if the facts as presented are outside the realm of what could reasonably be expected, or where the documentary evidence demonstrates that the events could not have happened in the manner asserted by the claimant. A tribunal must be careful when rendering a decision based on a lack of plausibility because refugee claimants come from diverse cultures, and actions which appear implausible when judged from Canadian standards might be plausible when considered from within the claimant’s milieu.
In Leung v. M.E.I. (1994), 81 F.T.R. 303 (T.D.), Associate Chief Justice Jerome stated at page 307:
Nevertheless, the Board is under a very clear duty to justify its credibility findings with specific and clear reference to the evidence.
This duty becomes particularly important in cases such as this one where the Board has based its non-credibility finding on perceived “implausibilities” in the claimants’ stories rather than on internal inconsistencies and contradictions in their narratives or their demeanour while testifying. Findings of implausibility are inherently subjective assessments which are largely dependant on the individual Board member’s perceptions of what constitutes rational behaviour. The appropriateness of a particular finding can therefore only be assessed if the Board’s decision clearly identifies all of the facts which form the basis for their conclusions.Read more ›
Please note that none of the information on this website should be construed as being legal advice. As well, you should not rely on any of the information contained in this website when determining whether and how to apply to a given program. Canadian immigration law is constantly changing, and the information above may be dated. If you have a question about the contents of this blog, or any question about Canadian immigration law, please contact the Author.
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