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How To Resettle In Canada As A Refugee


Canada is widely known for its welcoming nature to foreigners all around the world, including refugees. The country has made history of welcoming refugees forced to leave their countries and seek protection elsewhere. People usually run from threats to their lives to resettle in Canada as refugees.

Oftentimes, refugees have been deprived of their basic human rights and constantly live in fear of victimization. This could be because of their identity, beliefs, religion, or occurring wars in their home country. Meanwhile, the refugee protection system in Canada provides refugees with more than just protection.

The country offers them an opportunity to resettle in Canada as a refugee and restart their lives afresh. In this article, we’ll discuss extensively how you can resettle in Canada as a refugee. As well as the eligibility criteria for the different refugee classes, the application process, and the settlement assistance you’ll get after arriving in Canada.

Let’s get started!

What Is Refugee Resettlement?

A refugee is someone who fled their home country because their life is at risk and they may face serious victimization and human rights violations there. Meanwhile, they are not able to return to their home country and need protection.

Resettlement refers to the organized transfer of refugees from where they have sought protection to another country that has agreed to accommodate them. They may grant them the right to permanent residency and ultimately offer them the opportunity to obtain new citizenship.

Refugee Protection Programs In Canada

Below are the two major refugee protection programs in Canada. Scroll down!

1.  The Refugee And Humanitarian Resettlement Program

This program is created for individuals who need protection from outside of Canada. Here, refugees who have been forced to leave their home countries are being given the chance to resettle in Canada as a refugee and start their lives anew.

However, you are not allowed to directly apply for resettlement in Canada. Alternatively, the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) works closely with private sponsors who identify refugees and assist them in settling in Canada.

2.  The In-Canada Asylum Program

The In-Canada Asylum Program is designed for individuals who make refugee protection claims from within Canada. These refugees are at risk of torture or serious maltreatment in their home countries and may be persecuted if they return home. However, keep in mind that people who have been convicted of serious criminal offenses or previously denied refugee claims by Canada cannot seek asylum here.

While you are within Canada and you make a refugee claim, the government will decide whether your case can be referred to the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB). The immigration and refugee board is in charge of making decisions on immigration and refugees.

Eligibility Criteria To Resettle In Canada As A Refugee

If you want to resettle in Canada as a refugee from another country, you cannot do it yourself. You must be referred by either the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), a designated referral organization, or a private sponsorship group. However, you can only be eligible for referral if you meet one of Canada’s two refugee classes.

Below, we will discuss the two refugee classes in Canada. Read on!

1.  Convention Refugee Abroad Class

This class is initiated for individuals who are currently outside their home country (for instance, those in a refugee camp in another country). But cannot return because of a legitimate fear of being maltreated or victimized based on their religion, race, political opinion, or nationality. It could also be because of their social group (such as gender or sexual orientation).

Refugees in this category can be sponsored by the Canadian Government, private sponsor groups, or a mix of both. Furthermore, you may qualify as a Convention refugee if you have the finances to support yourself and your family in Canada after being referred by an approved referral group.

2.  Country Of Asylum Class

This class is also for individuals who are outside their home country/country of residence. You may qualify under this class if you’ve been negatively affected by civil war or armed conflict.

Furthermore, if your basic human rights have been denied for a prolonged period, you qualify for this class.

Once you’ve been referred to this class, you’ll either be privately sponsored or rely on your finances to support yourself and your family after arriving in Canada.

Who Is Not Eligible To Resettle In Canada As A Refugee?

Below are some of the points to note for refugee eligibility. You’ll not be able to immigrate to Canada as a refugee:

  1. If you have been provided with resettlement support in another country or there are other stable options for protection.
  2. Also, if you obtain citizenship from another
  3. If you decide that you want to return to your home country or country of
  4. Lastly, if the situation in your country has changed and your initial reasons for leaving are not important anymore.

The Application Process To Immigrate To Canada As A Refugee

1.  Get A Referral From The UNHCR For Resettlement In Canada

You must register with a UNHCR office in your home country and provide proof to support your claim for refugee status. After your claim has been assessed, the UNHCR will then refer you to a country for resettlement. However, the referral will be based on your family links, eligibility criteria, and application processing times in different resettlement countries.

It will also be based on your language abilities, culture, needs, and maybe, your preference. You may likely not have the opportunity to decide which country you want to settle in.

2.  Fill In The Application Package

After you’ve been referred for resettlement in Canada, you’ll need to apply as a Convention refugee or as a humanitarian-protected person abroad. This, you will do by filling out the application package.

3.  Submit Your Application

In the case of a privately sponsored refugee, your sponsor will have to submit your application to the Resettlement Operations Centre in Ottawa (ROC-O) on your behalf. Meanwhile, the IRCC office in your country will guide you in submitting your completed forms if you’re a government-assisted refugee.

4.  Get Matched To A Private Sponsor

If the government is not sponsoring you fully, the IRCC will match you with a private sponsor. The private sponsor will help you raise funds and donations to provide you with financial assistance when you get to Canada.

5.  Take A Medical Test

Furthermore, you and your family must undergo medical tests before immigrating to Canada. The IRCC or International Organization for Migration (IOM) will contact you with more details on this.

6.  Clear Criminal Background Checks

Before being picked for resettlement in Canada, you will need to clear security and criminal background checks.

Who Can Sponsor Refugees In Canada

Aside from the Canadian government, private groups can also sponsor qualified refugees for resettlement in Canada under the Private Sponsorship of Refugees program. However, individuals in Canada cannot single-handedly sponsor refugees. Individuals who are interested in sponsoring refugees can join one of the following groups below.

  1. Sponsorship agreement holders (SAH): These groups have signed agreements and work with the Canadian government to support refugees when they arrive in Canada. Constituent groups work with SAHs under their agreement to sponsor refugees.
  2. Groups of Five: These are groups of five or more Canadian citizens or permanent residents who usually sponsor refugees and support them to fully settle in their
  3. Community Sponsors: Organisations or associations that sponsor


Refugee Resettlement Assistance Provided By Canada

After you have resettled in Canada as a refugee, you’ll need support as you begin your journey in Canada. Therefore, the Canadian government works with its partners to ensure that refugees have the resources and assistance they’ll need to settle well in Canada. Canada’s Resettlement Assistance Program provides essential services and support to government-sponsored refugees.


The Essential Services And Benefits

  1. Financial support in the form of Income for refugees who cannot pay for their basic needs. This financial support can go on for up to one year or until you’re able to secure a job to support yourself.
  2. Providing essential services during your first four to six weeks stay in Canada. These include welcome at your port of entry, assistance in getting temporary and permanent accommodation, and basic information about As well as an assessment of your needs and referrals to other settlement services and provincial programs.
  3. Interim Federal Health Program (IFHP) coverage for pre-departure medical services until you’re eligible for provincial health coverage.

As a privately sponsored refugee, you’ll receive financial and emotional support from your sponsors for the period of the sponsorship or until you’re able to support yourself. Meanwhile, the private sponsorship usually last for a year and it covers housing, clothing, food, and other basic needs.

If you resettle in Canada as a refugee, you’ll also have access to newcomer settlement programs. These programs are run by provincial and territorial governments and their partner organizations to support refugees in adapting to life in Canada.


Keep in mind that when you start searching for your first job in Canada, most employers will ask for your education credentials assessment (ECA). Meanwhile, it’s to confirm that your foreign credentials are valid and also equivalent to Canadian ones. However, refugees who’ve been displaced from their country due to adverse circumstances and don’t have adequate proof of their academic certifications may get their ECA through the World Education Services (WES) Gateway program.

Furthermore, for you to be eligible, you must:

  1. Currently live in Canada and have at least one reliable document that was issued by your academic institution.
  2. Have been educated in Afghanistan, Eritrea, Iraq, Syria, Turkey, Ukraine, or
  3. Be referred to WES by a designed Canadian partner

Will I Need To Pay For The Cost Of My Sponsorship As A Refugee?

As a refugee, you’re not responsible for the cost of your sponsorship and do not need to pay your sponsor. Whether your sponsor is the government or a private organization, they will bear the processing cost of your application. As well as cover all of your essential financial needs in Canada until you’re capable of doing so.

However, you’ll need to pay for your travel documents, such as your passport and transport expenses to immigrate to Canada. In case you are not able to cover these expenses, you may likely be eligible for the Immigration Loans Program.


Where Can I Settle As A Refugee In Canada?

When you resettle in Canada as a government-assisted refugee, you do not have a choice on which part of the country you want to settle in. Rather, the decision is made based on a matching process. The Resettlement Operations Centre in Ottawa (ROC-O) will work with the IRCC to understand your background and essential needs to decide which city will be best for you.

Furthermore, the ROC-O will keep a record of some factors such as the languages you speak, where your friends and family live in Canada, and your medical needs. Also, understand your alignment with the ethnic, cultural, and religious communities in the area. As well as the availability of settlement services when picking a city to settle you in. Most of the

government-assisted refugees are resettled in Ontario, Quebec, and Alberta.


In this comprehensive article on how to resettle in Canada as a refugee, we believe you’ve picked some valuable points. All the best!

FAQs For Refugees Settling In Canada

1.  How long does it take to get PR in Canada for refugees?

When you are being picked for resettlement in Canada as a refugee, you’ll get a Confirmation of Permanent Residence (COPR). You will also get your Permanent Resident card by mail just a few weeks after you immigrate to Canada.

2.  Can a refugee buy a house in Canada?

After you have immigrated to Canada as a refugee and received permanent residence, you will enjoy all the rights and freedoms offered to PR holders. These include the right to purchase and own a property. Real estate in Canada can be quite expensive, so it usually takes newcomers some time to build a good credit score and qualify for a mortgage.


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