About UNHCR in Canada

Canada is party to the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, the cornerstone of international refugee law. The 1951 Convention sets out the obligations of States towards persons recognized as refugees. It also establishes the principle of non-refoulement, i.e. no refugee shall be returned to any country where he or she would be at risk of persecution. The mandate of the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) also includes protection of stateless persons (i.e. persons without a nationality).

The main activities of UNHCR Canada’s protection include:

  • Advocating for Canada to resettle more refugees;
  • Advocating to ensuring that asylum-seekers in Canada have fair access to the refugee status determination process and that stateless persons are protected;
  • Advocating to end the detention of asylum-seekers;
  • Raising awareness of global refugee issues; and
  • Helping other countries in the region to improve their refugee status determination systems.

UNHCR Headquarters are located in Geneva, Switzerland. The Agency has had offices in Canada since 1976. For more information on our work in Canada please visit our website.

Please note that in Canada the UNHCR is not involved in the various processes related to individual cases and you should seek assistance from one of the many organizations listed here if you need help with your asylum claim. UNHCR Canada does not offer direct services for asylum-seekers and will refer you to other available services in Canada for assistance should you contact our offices. If you have questions about your specific file or the asylum claim process please contact us by email at [email protected].

There are two ways to make an asylum claim in Canada: (1) At an official Port of Entry, with Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), and (2) in Canada at the office of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). In both processes, Canadian officials will determine if you are eligible to make an asylum claim. If you are found eligible, your case will be referred to the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, who will decide if you will be granted refugee status in Canada following a hearing at the tribunal.

Please see the “Applying for Asylum” section for more detailed information on this process in Canada.

Telephone: +1-613-232-0909
Email: [email protected] (for general inquiries) or [email protected] (for questions about your specific file or the asylum claim process)
Website: https://www.unhcr.ca/
Opening hours: Monday to Friday from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm

Our satellite offices may be contacted at the following phone numbers:

  • Montreal: 1-514-496-1637
  • Toronto: 1- 416-954-1188
  • Vancouver: 1-604-666-5910