Canadian immigration and refugee law

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Canadian immigration and refugee law concerns the area of law related to the admission of foreign nationals into Canada, their rights and responsibilities once admitted, and the conditions of their removal. The primary law on these matters is in the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, whose goals include economic growth, family reunification, and compliance with humanitarian treaties.

Enabling law[edit]

The primary statute is the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) which was introduced in 2002 to replace the former Immigration Act of 1976. The many changes included broader discretion for immigration officers when evaluating applications. The IRPA is accompanied by the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations.

Other relevant legislation include the Citizenship Act, and certain immigration and refugee-related provisions of the Criminal Code.

Admission classes[edit]

Canadian immigration policy allows several classes of people to enter. The Family Class allows permanent residents or citizens to sponsor a family member's or spouse's entrance into the country. In the case of a same sex couple, if they are immigrating from a country where they cannot marry, proof of a long-term relationship is required. The Economic Class provides admission to applicants (and their immediate families) who are supposed to be likely to find employment and contribute to the Canadian economy. This is determined by ranking candidates against one another, and the weighing of factors such as education, language skills, and work experience.[1] Some 60,000 come to Canada each year under the International Experience Canada initiative, which provides Working Holiday, internship, and study visas.[2]

Claims and appeals[edit]

Any immigrant can claim to be a refugee and it will be investigated. Claims for refugee status and for admissibility as well as appeals of the decisions of the immigration officers are directed to the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada. The Board is the largest tribunal in Canada and hears over 25,000 claims a year. Decision of the Board can be appealed to the Federal Court, which hears about 2,500 appeals on immigration and refugee matters a year.[3]

Current issues[edit]

The Parliament of Canada has previously debated whether to allow former US war resisters, such as soldiers avoiding redeployment to Iraq, to stay in Canada.[4] In mid-2010, the Federal Court of Appeal ruled that Jeremy Hinzman, an American soldier seeking asylum, should be allowed to remain in Canada, based on his pacifist religious beliefs.[5] Former Member of Parliament Gerard Kennedy's Private Member's Bill on the issue of war resisters was defeated in late September.[6]

Bill C-31, "Protecting Canada's Immigration System Act", aims to amend Canadian immigration and refugee law.[7]

In June 2012, the Canadian government introduced a series of changes affecting the Interim Federal Health Program which covers refugee health care.

Some refugee advocates have argued for rescinding the Canada–United States Safe Third Country Agreement. Under this agreement, those from third countries seeking refugee status who attempt to enter Canada at a legal border crossing will be turned back, whereas those who arrive illegal will have their claims processed.


  1. ^ "Everything you need to know about Express Entry". Moving2Canada. 2016-11-09. Retrieved 2018-11-08.
  2. ^ "How to get a Working Holiday Visa in Canada". Moving2Canada. 2017-11-03. Retrieved 2018-11-08.
  3. ^ Canadian Court, Of Appeals (May 6, 2019). "Refugee Appeals". Queens Printer. Retrieved 2019-05-06.
  4. ^ Keen, Judy (May 28, 2010). "In Canada once more, U.S. troops fleeing a war". USA Today. Retrieved 2011-05-14.
  5. ^ "Win for war resisters". Toronto Star. July 8, 2010. Retrieved 2011-05-14.
  6. ^ "LEGISinfo - Private Member's Bill C-440 (40-3)". Parliament of Canada. Retrieved 2011-05-14.
  7. ^ "House Government Bill C-31". Parliament of Canada. Retrieved 7 April 2012.