2.A Refugees: From Eligibility to Arrival
A.1 Who is Eligible to be sponsored?
(i) What criteria must applicants generally meet to be eligible for refugee resettlement?
How Canada Does It
Canada’s system has two main steps for determining who it will resettled as refugees. The first is determining the eligibility of applicants, meaning that they meet the definition under 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees (Refugee Convention) or Canada’s own definition of “refugee”. The second is admissibility to Canada. Applicants will undergo a security, criminality, and medical screening to ensure they do not pose a risk to Canadian public safety. Refugee applicants will qualify for resettlement to Canada if:
- They are members of the Convention Refugee Abroad Class (see 2.A.1(ii)) or members of the Country of Asylum Class (see 2.A.1(iii)).
- Their refugee claim is credible (see 2.A.1(vi)).
- They can demonstrate the ability to establish themselves in Canada (see 2.A.1(vi)) (not applicable for applicants requiring urgent protection or considered vulnerable).
- They have no durable solution within a reasonable period of time other than resettlement to Canada (see 2.A.1(vi)).
- They are not inadmissible on medical or security grounds (see 2.A.6).
The eligibility decision is normally based on an interview by a Canadian visa officer with the refugee applicant, an assessment of supporting documentation submitted by the applicant and sponsoring group, and additional information available to the officer, such as country condition research.
Refugees will be assessed on their ability to establish themselves successfully in Canada. It is very rare that Canada refuses to resettle refugees for lack of ability to establish, since the focus of the country’s refugee program is humanitarianism and saving lives. In making this assessment, the visa officer will consider whether refugees have relatives or a sponsor in Canada, the ability to speak or learn to speak English or French, and the potential for employment and resourcefulness. When a family unit is applying, the settlement potential of all family members is assessed as a single determination. Refugees deemed by the visa officer to be in urgent need of protection or in vulnerable circumstances do not need to demonstrate their ability to establish in Canada.
For some sponsorship streams (Group of Five, Community Sponsor – see 2.B.3(ii)), refugees must also possess valid proof of refugee status from UNHCR or their host state in order to qualify for resettlement. This requirement limits access to available sponsorship avenues for many refugees but was introduced by Canada to improve the quality of applications and ease pressures on processing.
To be accepted for resettlement in Canada, refugees must not be inadmissible on security, criminality, or medical grounds (see 2.A.6). Refugees will not be inadmissible for posing an undue burden on Canada’s medical system; medical inadmissibility only applies in cases where refugees have health conditions that pose a danger to the Canadian public (i.e. active tuberculosis and untreated syphilis). Canada will require refugees to be treated for such conditions before being admitted.