Canada–United States Safe Third Country Agreement
The Safe Third Country Agreement is an agreement between the governments of Canada and the United States to better manage the flow of refugee claimants at the shared land border.
Under the Canada-U.S. Safe Third Country Agreement, persons seeking refugee protection must make a claim in the first country they arrive in (United States or Canada), unless they qualify for an exception to the Agreement. Therefore, refugee claimants arriving from the United States at the Canada–United States land border may be allowed to pursue their refugee claims in Canada if they meet an exception under the Safe Third Country Agreement.
Where the agreement is in effect
The Safe Third Country Agreement applies only to refugee claimants who are seeking entry to Canada from the United States:
- at Canada-United States land border crossings;
- by train;
- at airports, if a person seeking refugee protection in Canada who has been determined not to be a refugee in the United States, has been ordered deported from the United States and is in transit through Canada for removal from the United States.
Exceptions to the agreement
Exceptions to the Safe Third Country Agreement are based on principles that take into account the importance of family unity, the best interests of children and public interest.
There are four types of exceptions:
- Family member exceptions
- Unaccompanied minors exception
- Document holder exceptions
- Public interest exceptions
Despite qualifying for one of the exceptions outlined above, refugee claimants must still meet all other eligibility criteria of Canada's immigration legislation. For example, a person seeking refugee protection will not be eligible to make a refugee claim in Canada if he or she has been determined to be inadmissible to Canada on grounds of security, violating human or international rights, or criminality.