Claiming for refugee status in Canada

Dear Mr Brown:
I would like to make a refugee claim for Canada. However, I have children. I wish to leave them behind at this time and then file for them afterwards. I am wondering how it would affect the application if I leave them behind. I want to know what I have to prove for a refugee application.

– JB

Dear JB:

I can only provide general advice based on your question. I am not sure which country you are applying from. I can assume you are from Jamaica, but I do receive e-mail from all over the world due to the reach of the Jamaica Observer’s website.

Convention refugee

Under Canadian Immigration Law, a convention refugee is a person who is outside of his or her country of nationality (or habitual residence) and is unable or unwilling to avail themselves of the protection of their country due to a well-founded fear of persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group or political opinion.

In other words, the person is claiming refugee protection in Canada out of fear of persecution if he or she returns to his/her country of origin. The person is unable or unwilling (based on fear) to obtain protection (from the State) in his/her country.

The essence of the definition includes:

• The person fears persecution, which is the systematic mistreatment of a person or groups.

• The persecution must be based on the specific reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group or political opinion (or analogous grounds).

Social group

Membership of a social group is based on:

1. an innate or unchangeable characteristic (gender, linguistic background and sexual orientation);

2. voluntary association for reasons so fundamental to their human dignity that they should not be forced to forsake the association; and

3. groups associated by a former voluntary status, unalterable due to its historical permanence (Holocaust victims).

Based on this definition, membership in a category or group such as “poor people” does not in and of itself make one eligible for refugee protection, even though one may suffer disadvantage.

Person in need of protection

The definition of convention refugee is a very specific definition that entails persecution on specific grounds. However, should one not be able to meet the definition of convention refugee, one may still be a person in need of protection.

A person in need of protection is a person in Canada whose removal to their country, would subject them personally to:

• torture;

• a risk to their life; or

• a risk of cruel and unusual treatment or punishment.

Additionally, the risk:

• would be faced by the person in every part of that country;

• is not faced generally by other individuals in or from that country;

• is not inherent or incidental to lawful sanctions, unless imposed in disregard of accepted international standards; and

• is not caused by the inability of that country to provide adequate health or medical care.


If your claim is successful, your children can be reunited with you. In fact, due to delays in the processing of immigration applications during the pandemic, advocacy groups have maintained that the Canadian Government should establish a standard of six months to reunite newcomers to Canada with their children, in the cases where children are separated from both parents.

Please visit JAMAICA2CANADA.COM for additional information on canadian permanent residence programmes, including Express Entry, The Study & Work Programme, visas or appeals, etc .

– Antonn Brown, BA, (Hons), LLB, MSc, RCIC, is an immigration counsel and an accredited Canadian education agent of JAMAICA2CANADA.COM —a Canadian immigration & education firm in Kingston. Send questions/comments to documents.jamaica2canada@gmail.com

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