Rights of asylum-seekers


This is the fundamental right of all refugees and asylum-seekers. You cannot be deported or sent back to a country in which your life or freedom may be in danger on account of your race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion. Even if you enter the country without a visa or entry permit, you cannot be deported until your refugee application has been considered.

In Canada, while you are waiting for a decision on your asylum claim, you cannot be deported to your country of origin.

Canada also has decided not to deport people to certain countries that it believes are not safe. It updates this list of countries on a regular basis. Even if your asylum claim is rejected and you are a citizen of one of these countries you will not be deported. This list is regularly updated and it is recommended that this list is consulted at the following website for current information.


In general, people who enter Canada without an entry visa or without passing through an official border point can face a penalty. But, this penalty does not apply for people who have filed an asylum claim and are found to be refugees after consideration of their case in Canada.

Protection and asylum

According to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, any person whose life is in danger in their own country has the right to seek protection and asylum in another country. Canada is a signatory to the Geneva Convention and respects the individual right to claim asylum. The government has set up a system so individuals can have their asylum applications assessed and determined.

Official identity

The Canadian government is responsible to give you an identification document in order to authorize your stay in the country. Every person, regardless of age, gender or sex, must be documented. Those who are seeking asylum will receive a document that identifies their status as an asylum-seeker in Canada that includes their picture and a unique ID number.


We all have the right to live in an environment free from discrimination, regardless of ethnicity, colour of someone’s skin, sex, language, sexual orientation or identity, disability, religion, political opinion, nationality, economic position, birthplace or any other personal attributes.

The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, guarantees individuals in Canada:

  • freedom of religion, of thought, of expression, of the press and of peaceful assembly;
  • the right to participate in political activities and the right to a democratic government;
  • the freedom to move around and live within Canada, and to leave Canada;
  • legal rights such as the right to life, liberty and security;
  • equality rights; and,
  • language rights

If you feel one of your rights has been violated you may get help by filing a complaint in court or through a human rights commission. For more information please visit the website of the Canadian Human Rights Commission.

Access to banking services

Refugees and asylum-seekers have the same rights to public and private banking services as any Canadian. In other words, you can open a bank account, transfer funds and access all other banking services.


As an asylum seeker, you have the right to access healthcare through the Interim Federal Health Program. You will automatically receive this coverage and proof of enrolment in the program as soon as you have been found eligible to make an asylum claim in Canada. For more information please visit the following website.


All asylum-seekers have the right to work in Canada. You have to apply for a work permit after you have been found eligible to make an asylum claim. For more information please visit the following website.


You can also apply for student authorization to attend school while you are waiting for a decision on your claim. If you have children (a child is someone under the age of 18), they will automatically be eligible to attend school when you arrive in Canada. For more information on the application please visit the following website.

Freedom of Movement

You have the right to move freely throughout national territory and choose where you want to live. Note that you might be required to report to the governmental institutions periodically, which sometimes has to be done before you are allowed to move. If these reporting obligations apply to you, make sure you review them carefully and notify the proper authorities of any change of address and phone number. This is to make sure they could contact you if there are any changes or information they need during the processing of your asylum claim. Please speak to your lawyer before you move to a different province if you have not had your refugee hearing at the IRB.  An asylum-seeker cannot (temporarily) leave Canada during the processing of their asylum application.

Access to Justice

All refugees and asylum-seekers have the right to get legal advice and be heard, free of discrimination. If you have a legal issue that needs assistance it is advisable to contact Legal Aid in your province.


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