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Refugee Programs of Canada: Overview

A refugee is somebody who has run away from their country of citizenship or country of residence due to a threat to their life or fear and danger to their life. The threat or fear must be real to the person making a refugee claim (well-founded fear of prosecution) and it is the refugee's responsibility to prove that the threat is real and imminent at the time the refugee case is filed. In other words, the danger to their life must be current. This person is not able to return home and they have seen and experienced many horrors.

An immigrant chooses to relocate to another country. On the other hand, a refugee is forced to run away or flee to another country. Often refugees are not able to sell off their property or assets and are forced to go into hiding in order to avoid persecution.

The Canadian refugee system has two main parts:

1. The Refugee and Humanitarian Resettlement Program, for people who need protection from outside Canada and

2. The In-Canada Asylum Program for people making refugee protection claims from within Canada

Pursuant to the first Program, the Refugee and Humanitarian Resettlement Program, refugees are identified overseas by international organizations such as the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), along with private sponsors for resettlement. A person cannot apply directly to Canada for resettlement. One way is to apply for resettlement as a sponsored refugee. This type of refugee is sponsored by Canadians and permanent residents of Canada (Group of 5 or G5). The main point of the sponsorship is that the sponsors, as opposed to the Canadian government, become the source of financial support for the refugee and/or their family in the first year of their stay in Canada. The sponsors must qualify financially and must be willing to allocate their personal funds in order to help pay for the needs of the refugee until they get established and become financially independent. If you have family or friends living in Canada, this may be a good option for you.

Under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (IRPR), persons who may qualify as refugees for Canada’s refugee and humanitarian resettlement program are grouped into 2 “classes”: Convention Refugees Abroad and Country of Asylum which may be defined as follows:

Convention refugee: Any person who by reason of a well-founded fear of persecution because of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group or political