2.A Refugees: From Eligibility to Arrival
A.1 Who is Eligible to be sponsored?
(v) Must individuals in a family independently meet the eligibility criteria for refugee resettlement or is status derivative?
How Canada Does It
Family unity is a fundamental principle of refugee protection. Family members are often separated when they flee their countries of origin. Respecting family unity requires granting refugee status to the spouse and dependants of a refugee, or conferring derivative refugee status. Individuals who are granted derivative refugee status enjoy the same rights and entitlements as other recognized refugees. Family units are resettled together wherever possible.
Canadian law allows “family members” to resettle to Canada with the principal refugee applicant. Canada defines “family members” as spouses or common law partners, dependent children, and children of dependent children. However, all family members must pass security, criminality, and medical checks (see 2.A.6). If an accompanying family member is found to be inadmissible to Canada (see 2.A.6), the entire family will be inadmissible to Canada (some exceptions apply).
Visa officers may opt to determine that individuals who do not meet the definition of “family members” are nevertheless de facto dependants of the primary refugee applicant based on their economic and emotional dependency, and should be resettled as part of the family unit.
Canada endeavors to process entire families concurrently to avoid situations of family separation. However, if a family member is separated, he/she may submit an application for permanent residence within one year of the principal applicant’s arrival in Canada through the One Year Window process.
In situations where a minor child is considered for resettlement with only one parent and the other parent is alive and can be located, the non-accompanying parent must either provide consent for the minor child to resettle, or the accompanying parent must have a court order granting him/her full custody while relinquishing the visitation rights of the non-accompanying parent.
Unaccompanied minors, defined as children who have no adult who is capable and willing to care for them abroad or in Canada, are generally excluded from resettlement to Canada unless they meet one of two exceptions: (a) they have a guardian where a de facto dependency relationship exists and the guardian is also being sponsored; and (b) they have family in Canada. In the latter case, Canada will only resettle the minor if it is determined it is in the minor’s “best interests.”