Country of asylum class: eligibility criteria

This section contains policy, procedures and guidance used by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada staff. It is posted on the Department’s website as a courtesy to stakeholders.

Sections R139, R146 and R147 lay out the eligibility requirements for the country of asylum class. To be eligible, an applicant:

  • must have been, and must continue to be, seriously and personally affected by civil war, armed conflict or massive violations of human rights;
  • must be outside all of their countries of nationality and habitual residence; and
  • must have no reasonable prospect, within a reasonable period, of another durable solution, namely:
    • voluntary repatriation or resettlement in their country of nationality or habitual residence;
    • resettlement in their country of asylum; or
    • resettlement to a third country.

Applicants under this class must also be privately sponsored, or have adequate financial means to support themselves and their dependants, or have qualified for a Joint Assistance Sponsorship (JAS) under the definition of “special needs.”

“Seriously and personally affected” means that the applicant has been, and continues to be, personally subjected to sustained and effective denial of a basic human right. Human rights are defined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). They are rights that cannot be denied, even in times of war. Human rights include, but are not limited to:

  • right to life;
  • freedom from torture;
  • freedom from enslavement or servitude;
  • protection from imprisonment for debt;
  • freedom from retroactive penal laws;
  • the right to recognition as a person before the law;
  • freedom of thought, conscience and religion.

What constitutes a basic human right is determined by the international community, not by a specific country. However, when making a determination as to whether a fundamental violation of a human right has taken place, it is acceptable to consider Canadian law.

How to determine eligibility for the country of asylum class

The officer should follow the steps outlined below to determine if the applicant meets the eligibility criteria for members of the country of asylum class.

Step 1

The applicant must satisfy each eligibility criteria of this class for their application to be processed under it.

Note: Refer to the above-mentioned eligibility requirements.

Step 2
Determine if the applicant:
  • has a private sponsorship, and if not;
  • is a self-supporting refugee; or
  • qualifies for the JAS Program.

Cases may be accepted under the country of asylum class only if there is a private sponsorship for the person concerned, or if an applicant is expected to be self-sufficient and not in need of financial assistance upon their arrival in Canada.

Currently, applicants in the country of asylum class may not be accepted under the regular government assistance program, but do qualify as special needs cases under the JAS Program.

Step 3a
Determine if the applicant has been, and continues to be, “seriously and personally affected” by:
  • civil war;
  • armed conflict; or
  • massive violation of human rights.

Note: Refer to the above-mentioned definition of “seriously and personally affected”.

When making these determinations, the officer can refer to international human rights instruments such as:

Step 3b
Determine whether an armed conflict, civil war, or massive violation of human rights has taken place using human rights reports or country condition information sources.
Step 4
Assess the ability to establish.

If the principal applicant does not qualify as a member of the country of asylum class, the officer must assess the eligibility and admissibility of the spouse or common-law partner and of any family members. Where any one family member qualifies, that status applies to all other family members. If the applicant and family members are not eligible under the country of asylum class, the officer must still assess all of them under the Convention refugee abroad class. If no one in the family qualifies for either class, the officer must refuse the application.

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