FCJ Refugee Centre

Basic Overview of the Refugee Process (after Dec. 15, 2012)


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The purpose of this document is to introduce you to the new refugee system that is taking place in Canada. However, before we begin with the specific steps of making a refugee protection claim, it is important to understand some of the concepts and language that are used throughout the document. Specifically, as part of the new process, new claimants will be divided into three categories, which will have different significance at different stages.

Designated Countries of Origin (DCO)

The Minister of Citizenship and Immigration can designate countries of origin. The nationals of these countries have reduced rights in the refugee process. Countries can be designated on the basis of quantitative factors (a rejection rate of at least 75% or a withdrawn and abandoned rate of at least 60%), or on the basis of the Minister’s opinion that the country has an independent judiciary, democratic rights, etc. These countries have begun to be designated as of December 14th, 2012. As of the production of this document 35 countries have made the list – 25 countries are in the European Union (EU) as well as Croatia, Mexico and the USA. To see the updated list, please visit www.cic.gc.ca.

Designated Foreign Nationals (DFN)

The Minister of Public Safety can designate groups of people as “irregular arrivals” in particular circumstances, including if the Minister considers that the group cannot be examined in a timely manner or suspects that the group might have been smuggled for profit. Individuals in the group are subject to many extreme measures, including mandatory detention (for all over 16 years of age) and a bar on applying for permanent residence for five years even if they are accepted as persons in need of protection by the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB). They also face a reduction of their rights and some differences in terms of the refugee claim process.

Regular Refugee Claimants

This category is for any claimant who is not from a Designated Country of Origin (DCO) according to Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC), or who is not a Designated Foreign National according to the Minister of Public Safety.

Timeline and Important Dates: The timeline for your claim process will depend on where you make your claim and whether or not you are from a Designated Country of Origin (DCO)

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