ARCHIVED – Backgrounder - How Canada’s proposed reforms to the asylum system compare internationally

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Reforms to other countries’ asylum systems have resulted in more efficient processes. The chart below shows the similarities and differences between Canada’s proposed reforms to the asylum process and systems in the United States, the United Kingdom, France and Australia.

In these countries, public servants make the first decisions on asylum claims, and most claimants have access to an appeal process.

Similar to these countries’ asylum systems, the proposed Canadian model would introduce first-level public servant decision makers at the Immigration and Refugee Board. In addition, the new system would introduce an appeal process decided by Governor in Council appointees. This appeal would be available to most failed claimants.

Some European countries have moved to designate safe countries of origin to further streamline their systems. This proposed Canadian model would also introduce the legislative authority to designate safe countries of origin, with designation criteria and guiding principles to be described later in the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations.

  Canada’s Current Asylum System United States United Kingdom France Australia
Acceptance rate of asylum claimants in 2009 42% 45% 27% 30% 28%

*Best available data from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the United States Department of Justice.

Elements of a Refugee Determination System Canada's Proposed Refugee Determination System United States United Kingdom France Australia
Refugee claim is heard by a public servant decision maker Yes. Public servants at the independent Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB) would make refugee determinations. Yes Yes Yes Yes
Right to counsel Yes. Claimants would have a right to counsel at both the first-level hearing and during the appeal process Yes Yes Yes Yes, but generally only at the appeal hearing
Refugee Appeal Division Yes, for most asylum claimants. Appeals would be heard by Governor in Council appointees at the IRB. This appeal would provide for the possibility of the introduction of new evidence. Appeal before a tribunal judge Appeal before a tribunal judge Appeal before a tribunal judge Appeal before a tribunal judge
Safe country of origin Yes. Claimants from safe countries of origin would receive a full hearing before the Refugee Protection Division at the IRB, but failed claimants would not be entitled to appeal to the Refugee Appeal Division. They would be able to ask the Federal Court to review a negative decision. No Yes Yes No
Judicial review Yes. This process remains unchanged as claimants may ask the Federal Court to review a negative decision. Yes Yes Yes Yes
Pre-Removal Risk Assessment (PRRA): assessment of risk to claimants if they are returned to their country of origin Yes. Failed asylum claimants who have not been removed from Canada within one year after the final IRB decision would be entitled to apply for a PRRA. Stay of removal on grounds of risk of torture or a risk to life is considered at the same time as the refugee claim Re-examination of claims on the basis of new information. Consideration of risk prior to removal Re-examination of claims on the basis of new information. Risk assessment prior to issuance of removal order Administrative pre-removal clearance process
Assisted Voluntary Returns Program for failed asylum claimants Yes. Subject to strict eligibility criteria, failed asylum claimants would receive increased education and limited financial assistance to voluntarily return to their country of origin following a final negative decision and after all recourses have been exhausted. No Yes Yes Yes

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