Backgrounder — Deterring Abuse of the Refugee System

Canada’s generous refugee system delivers help for vulnerable persons who genuinely need it, and does so in a fair, ordered and compassionate manner. In order to ensure the system continues to serve that function, it is important to protect its integrity from those who would abuse Canada’s generosity. There must be consequences and deterrents for such abuse.

The Government of Canada is taking action to stop such abuse of our laws and generosity by bolstering Canada’s ability to revoke the ‘protected person’ status of individuals who arrive, for example, as part of a designated irregular arrival, through both rules of ‘cessation’ and ‘vacation’.

Is there no longer a need for protection?

If an individual who is in the process of claiming refugee status can safely, and of their own initiative, return to the country they purport to be fleeing, then it is an indication that the individual is not dependent on Canada’s protection and may not qualify to be considered a United Nations Convention Refugee. Likewise, an individual who is in the process of applying for refugee status is also not in need of Canada’s protection if conditions sufficiently improve in their country of origin.

In such cases, the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism may apply to the Refugee Protection Division at the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada for a determination that an individual’s refugee protection has ceased. The Protecting Canada’s Immigration System Act would ensure that if an individual is subject to a ‘cessation’ application hearing, their application for permanent residence would not be processed until a decision is made on the Minister’s application. If the Refugee Protection Division upholds the Minister’s application for cessation, the individual would be removed from Canada.

Was the protected person status obtained fraudulently?

If an individual has directly or indirectly misrepresented or withheld material facts relevant to their situation, or of the facts surrounding their identity in order to gain the status of a United Nations Convention refugee, then that status was gained fraudulently.

In such cases, the Minister of Public Safety may apply to the Refugee Protection Division to vacate the individual’s refugee protection status. If the original decision is nullified or cancelled, and no other grounds for protection remain, the individual would be removed from Canada.

The new legislation prevents illegal migrants from designated irregular arrivals who become refugees from applying for permanent residence for five years. During this time, the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism can make an application for “cessation” or “vacation”, either of which, if successful, would result in the individual being removed from Canada.

The proposed amendments would also eliminate access to the Refugee Appeal Division for people who want to appeal a revocation of ‘protected person’ status decision, including those who arrive as part of a designated irregular arrival. They would, however, be able to ask the Federal Court to review a revocation decision.

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