Rights of refugees


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 in 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, if you are recognized to be a refugee you cannot be deported to your country of origin and have the right to apply for permanent residence in Canada. Canada also has decided not to deport people to certain countries that it believes are too unsafe. It updates this list on a regular basis. Even if your asylum claim is refused and you are a citizen of one of these countries you will not be deported. This list is regularly updated and it is recommend to consult this list 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 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 an individual’s 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 has to give you an identification document in order to authorize your stay in the country. Every person, regardless of age, gender and sex, must be documented. Those who are determined to be a refugee will receive a written decision that could be used to prove their status. Refugees could also apply for a travel document that could be used as a piece of identity. For more information please click here.


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 attribute.

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 are 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 a refugee, you have the same 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 deemed eligible to make an asylum claim in Canada. For more information please visit the following website.


All refugees have the right to work in Canada. You have to apply for a work permit. For more information please visit the following website.


All refugees in Canada have the same rights to education as all Canadians.

Freedom of Movement

You have the right to move freely throughout national territory and choose where you want to live. Refugees have the right to apply for a Refugee Travel Document and can travel with this document except to their country of origin. If you return to your country of origin, it may be determined that you no longer risk persecution and could lead to you losing your status as a refugee. It is important to consult a lawyer if you are thinking of returning to your country of origin.

Please visit the following website for more information.

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.

Permanent Residence and Citizenship

If your asylum application was approved and you are recognized as a refugee, you have the right to apply for permanent residence in Canada immediately upon receiving your decision. You may include your dependent children and your spouse in this application for permanent residence, regardless of whether they are in Canada or not. For more information on this application process please visit the following website.

A refugee may apply for citizenship in Canada if they have obtained their permanent residence and have been physically present in Canada as a permanent resident for 3 out of the last 5 years with no minimum number of days per year, before applying for citizenship. Days spent in Canada before becoming a permanent resident (as a temporary resident or protected person) within 5 years of applying for citizenship, count as ½ days, up to a maximum of 1 year (365 days). For more information on this application process please visit the following website.

Family Reunification

If you are a refugee that has been officially recognized by the Canadian government and in accordance with the right to family reunification, you have the right to bring your family to Canada.

What is family reunification?

Family reunification is a way to maintain family unity in cases where the relatives of the refugee are living outside of Canada.

Which family members can be brought to the country under family reunification?

  • Unmarried children under 22 years of age.
  • Unmarried children over 22 years of age who can prove they have depended substantially on the financial support of a parent since before the age of 22, and is unable to provide for himself or herself because of a medical condition.

What procedure must be followed if you want to reunite with a family member?

You should submit your application to the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).

You must include the following documents:

  • All completed forms
  • A photocopy of your refugee decision
  • Proof of family relationship (birth certificates, marriage certificates etc.)
  • Two passport-size photos.
  • For more detailed information please visit the following website.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada will assess all submitted documents and will inform you of whether your application has been successful or not. You have the right to appeal the decision if your application is denied.


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