Canada was one of the active signatories of the 1951 UN Refugee Convention, thus providing generous humanitarian programs for individuals in dire need of protection. A person in need of protection in the eyes of IRCC (Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada) is any person that faces danger of torture, risk to their life or risk of cruel and unusual treatment or punishment, and for these reasons are not able to return or live in their home country.

Refugee Class:

To apply as a refugee, the application can be initiated from inside Canada if the prospective applicant is already in the country, or from outside Canada. Applicants inside Canada have a more straightforward application process, whereas applicants located outside Canada must be referred by the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) or through one of the 3 organizations:

It is the applicant’s responsibility to provide documentation and accurate statements relating to the reasons for seeking refuge and what kind of hardships will be faced should the applicant be denied refugee status and forced to go home.

There are some limitations that are associated with the refugee program such as:

  1. Applicants can’t claim refugee status in Canada if they arrived in the USA (or any other country) first, before coming to Canada. To claim refugee status in Canada, applicant must directly arrive to Canada;
  2. Applicant previously claimed refugee status in another country;
  3. Applicant has another citizenship that will deem a safer environment;
  4. Applicant has potential inadmissibility concerns;
  5. Applicant previously applied for a refugee claim but was refused, withdrew the application, or was found to be ineligible.

While the application for permanent residence under refugee claim is processing, applicant will be eligible for an unrestricted work permit in Canada that will allow them to live and work in Canada until the process is completed and the final decision is granted on the refugee claim.

Should the decision turn out negative, applicants may submit a request for an appeal to the Refugee Appeal Division to see if the decision can be rendered in a positive way in the event the reviewing officer made an unfair decision. Applicants can also explore Pre-Removal Risk Assessment that is summarized below.

Pre-Removal Risk Assessment (PRRA):

This type of application is generally applicable to some refugee claimants that had their refugee claim refused or individuals that had been issued a removal order due to whichever reasons. This application is quite different from any other Canadian immigration applications as the form is handed to the applicant by the CBSA (Canada Border Service Agency) officer upon a preparation of the removal order. A CBSA officer will advise whether the applicant is eligible to make an application for a PRRA or not depending on the applicant’s history and circumstance.

PRRA application is similar to a refugee application in nature of providing documents and information to show that the applicant will face unusually unfair and cruel treatment, punishment, or persecution if forced to go back to their home country.

While the application for PRRA is processing, applicants are allowed to remain in Canada and apply for a work permit. Once the final decision is rendered – applicants will either be granted a permanent residence under protected status (same as refugee status) should the application be approved. In the event the decision is negative, the applicant has an option to submit another PRRA application, submit a request to the Federal Court of Canada for leave and judicial review of the application and possible overturn of the negative decision, or apply under Humanitarian and Compassionate grounds.

Humanitarian and Compassionate Grounds (H&C):

Applications for permanent residence under H&C class are aimed for people who would not normally be eligible to become permanent residents in Canada under any other available programs.

Eligibility criteria for this program are very vague, however it primarily assesses applicant’s existing ties to Canada such as:

  • Settlement in Canada through physical properties or ownership of assets;
  • Family ties in Canada and best interests of any children involved;
  • Factors of inconvenience or danger should the applicant go back to their home country.

Limitations associated with making an application under this program are related to active or previously submitted refugee claims or PRRA applications. If the applicant considers submitting an application for PR under H&C class, it might be advisable to withdraw an active refugee or PRRA application.

Application process for H&C consists of completing forms and submitting supporting documents to the processing office in Canada. While the application is processing, the applicant is eligible to apply for an open work permit and gainfully seek employment. Should the decision be rendered positive, the applicant will be granted permanent residence. Should the application be rendered negative, the applicant’s only option is to submit an application for leave and judicial review to the Federal Court of Canada for a possible overturn of a negative decision.

If you are looking for a Canadian Immigration Lawyer that can assist you with your matter, there is no need to look any further. At UL Lawyers, for all immigration matters, we offer free consultation for the first 15 minutes and in the event our law firm is retained, we will credit the consultation fee towards your legal fees. For more information, you can contact us via telephone or WhatsApp at 1-905-744-8888 or email us at We look forward to assisting you with your immigration matter.