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Who is Considered a Refugee?

A refugee is a person who has been forced to flee their home country due to a well-founded fear of persecution based on race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion. This definition is established by the 1951 Refugee Convention and its 1967 Protocol, which provide the legal framework for the protection of refugees worldwide.

What is a refugee claim?

A refugee claim is a formal request made by an individual who seeks protection in Canada because they fear persecution in their home country or the country where they normally live. This fear of persecution must relate to factors such as race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion. The process is designed to determine whether the individual qualifies as a refugee under Canadian law and international agreements to which Canada is a signatory.

The Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB) grants refugee protection to individuals who meet the criteria set out under one of the following categories:

Convention Refugee

The term “Convention Refugee” is defined under Canadian law by the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, Section 96, which provides a clear framework for understanding who qualifies for refugee protection in Canada. A Convention refugee is characterized by the following criteria:

Reasons for Persecution: The person has a well-founded fear of being persecuted for one or more of the following reasons: Race, Religion, Nationality, Membership in a particular social group, or Political opinion

Criteria for Being Outside the Country of Nationality: The person must be outside any country of their nationality. The person is unable or due to their fear of persecution, unwilling to avail themselves of the protection of each of those countries.

Statelessness and Former Habitual Residence: For individuals who do not have a country of nationality, the person must be outside the country of their former habitual residence. The person is unable or due to their fear of persecution, unwilling to return to that country.

Person In Need of Protection 


A “Person in Need of Protection” refers to someone currently in Canada who cannot safely return to their home country or country of former habitual residence without facing significant dangers. This status is specifically defined under Canadian immigration law, aligning with Section 97 (1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA). Individuals qualifying under this category are granted protection due to the severe risks identified should they be forced to return to their country. Here are the conditions under which someone would be deemed a Person in Need of Protection:

Risk of Torture: The individual would face a danger of torture as defined in Article 1 of the Convention Against Torture. This risk must be based on substantial grounds, meaning there is credible and reliable evidence suggesting the presence of such a danger.

Risk to Life or Risk of Cruel and Unusual Treatment or Punishment: For this risk to apply, several conditions must be met:

Inability to Avail Protection: The individual must be unable or, due to the risk, unwilling to seek protection from their country.

Ubiquity of Risk: The risk must be prevalent throughout the entire country and not just in certain parts. Furthermore, this risk must be specific to the individual and not something that the general population in that country faces.

Exclusion of Lawful Sanctions: The risk should not be a result of lawful sanctions unless these sanctions are imposed in disregard of accepted international standards.

Exclusion of Medical Inadequacy: The risk must not stem solely from the country’s inability to provide adequate health or medical care.


Canada offers several key programs for refugees, designed to support their resettlement and protection. The main programs include:


Government-Assisted Refugees (GAR) Program: This program is for refugees who are selected for resettlement in Canada because of their vulnerability and lack of other durable solutions. These refugees are identified and referred by the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and other referral organizations. The Canadian government provides financial support for these refugees for up to one year or until they can support themselves, whichever comes first.

Privately Sponsored Refugees (PSR) Program: Under this program, private groups or individuals in Canada can sponsor refugees to come to Canada. Sponsors commit to providing financial and emotional support to the refugees for the duration of the sponsorship period, typically one year. This includes assistance with housing, clothing, food, and help in finding employment and navigating local services.

Blended Visa Office-Referred (BVOR) Program: The BVOR program blends elements of both the Government-Assisted and Privately Sponsored Refugee Programs. It matches refugees identified for resettlement by the UNHCR with private sponsors in Canada. The government provides up to six months of financial support, while the private sponsors provide another six months of financial support and up to a year of social and emotional support.

Joint Assistance Sponsorship (JAS) Program: This program is designed for refugees who need more than the basic support provided under other programs due to special needs, such as trauma from violence or torture, medical disabilities, or effects of systemic discrimination. Sponsors commit to providing longer-term support, typically for up to 24 months, and in some cases, up to 36 months.

Protected Temporary Residents Class: This is a lesser-known pathway which includes individuals in urgent protection need who might not qualify as refugees but are nonetheless in vulnerable situations. This class allows for more flexible responses in extraordinary humanitarian and compassionate situations.

There are several circumstances under which an individual may not be eligible for asylum (or refugee protection) in Canada. It’s important to be aware of these conditions as they are critical in determining eligibility:

Safe Third Country Agreement: If you have arrived in Canada at a land border crossing from the United States, you may not be eligible for asylum under the Safe Third Country Agreement. This agreement between the U.S. and Canada generally requires refugee claimants to request protection in the first safe country they arrive in, unless they qualify for an exception.

Previous Refugee Claim: If you have already made a refugee claim in Canada that was not successful, you cannot make another claim unless there have been significant changes in your circumstances or new facts have come to light since the last decision.

Other Country’s Protection: If you are recognized as a refugee in another country and can return there, you may not be eligible to make a refugee claim in Canada.

Serious Criminality: If you have committed serious criminal offenses, either in Canada or in another country, you may be considered inadmissible to Canada and not eligible for asylum. This includes crimes that would be punishable by a maximum term of imprisonment of at least 10 years in Canada.

Security Concerns: Individuals who pose a security risk, such as those involved in espionage, subversion (against any government), or terrorism, are also deemed inadmissible and cannot claim asylum.

Human or International Rights Violations: Individuals who have participated in or are believed to have participated in war crimes, crimes against humanity, or other serious violations of human or international rights are not eligible for refugee protection.

Misrepresentation: If you have provided false information or withheld information related to your refugee claim, your eligibility for asylum may be negatively affected.

No Fear of Life: If the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) determines that the general conditions in your country of origin have improved or that there is no longer a personalized risk to you, your claim may be denied.


How we can help you with your Refugee claims?

As a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant (RCIC), my team and I offer comprehensive assistance with your refugee claims. We start by evaluating your eligibility to make a claim in Canada and assist you in preparing all necessary documentation and evidence to robustly support your case. We are dedicated to preparing you thoroughly for your hearing before the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB), including conducting mock interviews and explaining the proceedings to ensure you are well-prepared and confident. If needed, a skilled member of our team will represent you at the IRB hearing, advocating strongly on your behalf. Following the decision, we will guide you through the next steps, whether your claim is accepted or denied, and connect you with community and support services to help you adjust to life in Canada. Our goal is to navigate you through this complex process, making it as smooth and clear as possible

Canadian Experience Class Program

Skilled workers who have Canadian work experience

Federal Skilled Worker Program

Skilled workers with foreign work experience

Federal Skilled Trades Program

Skilled workers who are qualified in a skilled trade

Refugee Sponsorship


There is also an option to sponsor a refugee to help them resettle to Canada. They have to sign sponsorship agreement with the Government of Canada. These groups are known as Sponsorship Agreement Holders. 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.

You may not be eligible for asylum if:

You have a previous denied refugee claim

You have been convicted of serious criminal offences


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