There are two ways to make an asylum claim in Canada: (1) At an official Port of Entry, or (2) inside 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 (see Step 1 under “What happens after I apply?“), your case will be referred to the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, who will determine if you will be granted refugee status in Canada following a hearing at the tribunal.
The Canadian government has put restrictions on asylum claims made at the official land port of entry. Under the Canada-U.S. Safe Third Country Agreement (STCA), persons coming to Canada from the U.S. cannot make an asylum claim at the Canadian border unless they qualify for an exception to the Agreement. These exceptions include:
(1) having a valid Canadian visa, a work permit or a study permit,
(2) being under 18 without either parent in the United States,
(3) having close family members who are living in Canada,
(4) facing the death penalty in your country or the United States, and
(5) being a stateless person habitually resident in the U.S.
The Safe Third Country Agreement recognizes the following family members for the purpose of the exception: spouse, legal guardian, child, father or mother, sister or brother, grandfather or grandmother, grandchild, uncle or aunt, nephew or niece, common-law partner, and same-sex spouse with a legal status in Canada. If you are not sure if you fall into an STCA exception, you should get some legal advice before coming to the border.
For a visualisation of the asylum procedure in Canada, please see this flowchart.
For more information on claiming asylum at the border please see the following documents: