Refugee Resettlement in Canada Information Bulletin No. 3

The following information bulletin was handed out in the refugee camps in July 2010 to Bhutanese refugees. The goal was to provide ongoing information about the Canadian resettlement process.

By now some of your family and friends may have signed up for resettlement to Canada or another country and some may have already left the camps.

Over 800 Bhutanese are already settling into life in their new home – Canada.

If you are interested in resettling in Canada, you can still apply. If you have already applied and have been interviewed, this bulletin will provide some important information to you.

Applying to come to Canada

If you are interested in resettling in Canada, and are a registered refugee from Bhutan, you should tell the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). The UNHCR is distributing “Declaration of Interest” forms and will help you decide if resettlement is the best choice for you.

Whether you are male or female, young or old, in good health or not, regardless of your job skills and education, Canada could accept you for resettlement. However, there is no guarantee that you will be accepted to come to Canada. If you are interested and meet certain criteria, you will be interviewed by a Canadian officer who will make the final decision.

The UNHCR can refer you to Canada if you meet all of the following conditions:

  • You have been recognized by the Government of Nepal as a refugee;
  • You participated in the UNHCR-Government of Nepal Census completed on May 11,  2007; 
  • You live in one of seven refugee camps in Nepal—Beldangi-I, Beldangi-II, Beldangi-II ext, Sanischare, Goldhap, Timai or Khudunabari—or you live outside these camps but have been recognized by the Government of Nepal as a refugee from Bhutan; and
  • The UNHCR has decided that you are someone who would benefit from going to live in another country.

If you have already been interviewed by Canadian officials and chosen for resettlement, please remember that it could still take several months before you come to Canada.

If you are selected, the Government of Canada will offer you a loan which you will need to pay back gradually over time once you are in Canada. The loan will cover the cost of your medical examination and your travel to Canada.

Travelling with your family

You and your husband or wife, and your children who are 22 years old or younger can apply on the same form and come to Canada together. If you get married or have a baby after your interview, you must tell a UNHCR officer or Canadian official so that your new family members can be included in your application.

Canada tries to keep families (brothers and sisters, older children) together when they apply at the same time. For example, an adult man, his wife, his children and his parents and brothers and sisters would normally all be able to come to Canada together, if they apply at the same time.

It is very important to tell the UNHCR officers and the Canadian officials that you want to resettle as a family. You should also list all your family members (including all your children, brothers and sisters, parents, husband and wife), whether they are living with you or somewhere else. You should also include those members of your family who do not want to resettle to Canada right now.

People who are not listed on your application may not be able to come to Canada in the future.

If you have relatives or close friends who have already gone to Canada, and if you wish to live near them, you should let the UNHCR know who they are and where they live. As much as possible, Canada tries to resettle refugees in a community where they will have the support of people they know.

Becoming a Canadian citizen

When you arrive in Canada, you will be given a document that says you can live here permanently – as a permanent resident. This means it is legal for you to stay in Canada for the rest of your life. You will be able to work or go to school, and you will receive free health care.

After you have lived in Canada for three years, you may apply to become a Canadian citizen.

Refugee Support Services

You will get financial assistance to help you pay for your food and a place to live for your first year in Canada. Someone will welcome you at the airport and you will receive help to adjust to everyday life in Canada, such as how to use local transportation and buy food. Children will be able to go to school for free and everyone can get free health care. Depending on your needs, a group of Canadians may help you adapt to life in Canada. You will also receive help to learn English or French, the two main languages spoken in Canada, and to find a job.

Getting on a bus

Photo of a bus

Shopping for food

Photo of people shopping

There are many community groups and associations for men, women and children that you can join. You can become involved in sporting activities such as soccer or football and there are many activities that you can do as a family. Some activities are free, while there is a cost for others.

Girls playing soccer

Photo of girls playing soccer

Family bicycling

Photo of a family bicycling

The government also has services that help with the special needs of women, seniors, children, youth and persons with physical limitations.

Nepali-speaking people in Canada

There are some southern Bhutanese and many Nepalese people already living in Canada. Some of these people will help you and your family get settled once you arrive. Over 800 Bhutanese have already come to Canada as part of this resettlement effort and have settled in a number of cities across the country.

Canadian Society

In Canada, men and women are treated equally and have equal rights. There is no caste system, which means that men and women of all social classes, cultures, races and religions interact with one another and are treated equally.

Religion in Canada

In Canada, you are allowed to practice your religion freely. Canadian law requires that you tolerate other religions. You will not be asked or forced to change your religion. Freedom of religion is one of Canada’s basic rights. Many religions are practiced in Canada and there are many Buddhist and Hindu temples, and Christian churches across the country. In many cities, you can invite Hindu Pandits home for religious ceremonies. Many services, such as cremation, are also available.


There are four different seasons in most of Canada: spring, summer, autumn and winter. The temperatures and weather in each season can be different from one part of the country to another.

Spring (March, April and May) is a rainy season in most parts of Canada, and the weather can be cool. In summer (June, July and August), the weather is very warm in most parts of the country. During the day, temperatures are often above 20°C and can sometimes rise above 30°C. In the autumn (September, October and November), the weather cools and it can also be very rainy. During the winter months (December, January and February), the temperature in most of the country usually stays below 0°C, day and night.

Temperatures in some parts of the country can drop below -25°C, while along the West Coast, the temperature rarely drops below 0°C. In most of Canada, snow will be on the ground from the middle of December to the middle of March.

During even the coldest months, buildings and houses are well heated and comfortable. To stay warm in winter when they are outside, people wear outdoor clothes like an overcoat, boots, gloves and a hat. They also wear several layers under their outdoor clothes such as an undershirt, a shirt and a sweater.


Image of a spring scene


Image of a summer scene



Image of a fall scene


Image of a winter scene

Photos courtesy of the Canadian Tourism Commission

Once in Canada, bringing your family members over

Once you have settled in Canada, you may be able to sponsor other family members who are still in Nepal. However, you should know that this process could take a long time and you might not see those members of your family for many years. A family member is a parent, grandparent, spouse and children 22 years of age or younger. Brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins and adult children are not able to be sponsored later.

If you have family or friends who are completing their Declaration of Interest forms, remind them to tell the UNHCR officers and the Canadian officials that they want to resettle with their family. They must list all their family members on their application form (including their spouse and all children, brothers, sisters and parents), even those who don’t live with them or those not wanting to resettle right now.

Once you are in Canada, be sure your family in Nepal knows exactly where you live in Canada. Make sure they know your mailing address including the city and province where you are. This is very important as Canada is a big country and we need to know the address in order to settle family members together.

Although the Government of Canada will be resettling people over the next few years, there are a limited number of spots and it takes a long time (many months or more) between the time you apply for resettlement and actually arriving. Therefore, it is very important that anyone who wants to resettle to Canada completes a Declaration of Interest form as soon as possible. If you have not yet applied and are waiting to see how members of your family like Canada before you apply, be aware that all the resettlement spots could be taken by the time you decide.

Stories that are false

Sometimes there are rumours in the camps about resettlement that are false.

You should know that:

  • You will NOT be “sold” for slave labour or forced to fight in Iraq or anywhere else. While you will be encouraged to work in Canada you cannot be forced into a particular job. Military service is a choice in Canada and you do NOT have to become a soldier.
  • You will NOT be forced to live in a refugee camp. There are no refugee camps in Canada.
  • Cold weather does NOT prevent people in Canada from having children. There are families of all sizes in Canada. It is up to individuals to decide how many children they will have.
  • It is NOT true that your resettlement to Canada will be cancelled if you get married, get pregnant, or have a baby while you are waiting to travel. However, it is very important to tell a UNHCR officer or Canadian official if there are any changes in your family to make sure everyone is included in your application and can travel with you to Canada.
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