The Refugee Protection Division (RPD) of the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB) hears and decides claims for refugee protection made in Canada.
Refugee protection can be conferred in Canada if the RPD determines that the claimant meets the United Nations definition of a Convention refugee, which has been incorporated into Canadian law, or that the claimant is a person in need of protection. Convention refugees are people who have a well-founded fear of persecution because of their race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular social group. Membership in a particular social group can include sexual orientation, gender identity, being a woman, and HIV status. Persons in need of protection must show that if they return to their country of nationality, they will face a danger of torture, a risk to their life or a risk of cruel and unusual treatment or punishment.
A claim for refugee protection can be made by speaking to an officer from the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) at any port of entry upon arrival in Canada, or to an officer from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada or CBSA at an inland office.
The officer decides whether the claim is eligible to be referred to the IRB. If the claim is eligible, it is sent (“referred”) to the RPD to start the claim for refugee protection process.
Refugee protection claims referred to the IRB before December 15, 2012—what the IRB calls “legacy claims”—are not subject to all of the new requirements. Claims that are referred to the IRB on or after December 15, 2012, must respect specific regulatory time limits for hearings, but those regulatory time limits do not apply to legacy claims. As a result, the IRB gives scheduling priority to new claims. That is not to say, however, that legacy claims will be lost in this new system. The IRB will continue to hear and decide as many legacy claims as possible using its existing resources. On May 8, 2017, the Chairperson announced the formation of the Legacy Task Force, which has a two-year mandate to reduce and eliminate the remaining legacy backlog.
Cessation and Vacation
The Minister may make an application to the RPD to cease refugee protection in any of the following circumstances, which are also set out in subsection 108(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act:
- the person has voluntarily reavailed themself of the protection of their country of nationality;
- the person has voluntarily reacquired their nationality;
- the person has acquired a new nationality and now has the protection of the country of that new nationality;
- the person has voluntarily become re-established in the country that they have left, and from which the person claimed refugee protection in Canada; or
- the reasons for which the person sought refugee protection have ceased to exist.
The Minister may make an application to the RPD to vacate a decision to allow refugee protection because the original decision was obtained as a result of misrepresenting or withholding facts relating to a relevant matter.