Start Your Refugee Claim

Learn how to make your claim for refugee protection. Understand important steps. Learn the difference between making your refugee claim at a port of entry (airport, seaport, border) or from within Canada (inland).

Port of Entry or Inland: Where and How Your Refugee Claim Starts

You need to make an official refugee claim in order to start the process of receiving protection in Canada. 

There are two separate locations and processes for you to make a refugee claim: 

  • Upon arrival to Canada at a port of entry, such as an airport, seaport, or land border crossing. This is called a “port of entry refugee claim.” You will tell the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) officer that you would like to make a refugee claim. They will start the process with you.
  • When you are already inside of Canada. This is called an “inland refugee claim.” If you are in Canada, you will make your refugee claim on the IRCC Portal to begin the process.

Port of Entry Claim

Starting your refugee claim when you arrive at an air, sea or land port

You may make a refugee claim at an official port of entry upon your arrival in Canada with the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA). A port of entry is:

  • An international airport
  • An official land border entry station
  • A seaport.

Tell the CBSA officer you meet that you wish to make a refugee claim.

If you enter Canada without going through an official air, sea or land port of entry, you may encounter the CBSA or the police shortly after you enter the country. At this time, you may request to make a refugee claim if you fear returning to your country.  You will be taken to the nearest CBSA or IRCC office to begin the refugee claim process.

Detention

You may be detained when you arrive at a Canadian port of entry to make a refugee claim. This may be because CBSA:

  • Is not convinced about your identity
  • Does not believe you will return voluntarily for a follow-up appointment to complete your interview
  • Does not believe you are eligible to make a refugee claim and wants to remove you from the country
  • Believes you are a danger to the public
  • Discovered that you have a criminal record.

If you are detained, contact a legal representative to find out if you can be released from detention. You may qualify for legal aid.  Find out more about detention here.

Biometrics and eligibility interview with CBSA

Biometrics

After you tell the CBSA officer that you want to make a refugee claim:

  • You and your family members 14 years of age or older will have your fingerprints taken
  • Photographs will be taken of all family members
  • Your passport, travel documents (and possibly other original documents such as birth certificates, driver licenses and identity documents) will be taken and you will be given certified copies of the documents. IRCC will return your documents to you when you become a permanent resident or prepare to depart Canada.
Eligibility interview

You will be interviewed and asked questions so that a CBSA officer can decide if you are eligible to make a claim in Canada. This is called the eligibility interview. This interview is not your refugee claim hearing.

Some of the questions you may be asked are:

  • Why did you come to Canada?
  • Who or what are you afraid of in your country?
  • What would happen to you if you returned to your country?
  • Have you ever been arrested, or detained?
  • Have you made a refugee claim in another country?
  • In what countries do you have legal residence or citizenship?
  • How did you travel to Canada?
  • Who helped you come to Canada?
  • Do you have relatives in Canada?

You must complete eligibility forms in which you will need to provide (for each family member):

  • Name, place of birth, date of birth
  • Employment and or other activities for the last 10 years or since you turned 18
  • Addresses for the last 10 years or since you turned 18
  • Education history
  • Your marriage history
  • Any criminal history you may have
  • Your travel and immigration history
  • Personal details about your parents
  • Details about government, military and other organizations  you have been involved with
  • Details of any times you were detained, even for just a few hours, including by authorities in your country or other groups.

It is important that you answer the questions on the forms and during your interview as accurately and honestly as possible. If you do not understand a question, ask for clarification. If you do not know an exact date that is requested, make that clear to the officer and on the form. You may have to explain the responses you give at your refugee hearing.

If the CBSA officer is not able to complete the interview and make a decision about your eligibility at the first meeting, you may be detained until it is completed, or you may be asked to return to complete the interview. If you are asked to return to complete the interview you will be given an Acknowledgement of Claim letter, which shows you have started your refugee claim, and a date to return for the interview. Do not miss this appointment!

Ineligibility

The CBSA officer may decide you are not be eligible to make a refugee claim in Canada if you: 

  • Have convention refugee status in another country that you can return to
  • Made a refugee claim in the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia or New Zealand
  • Previously made a refugee claim in Canada that was refused, abandoned, or withdrawn
  • Have previously been found ineligible to make a refugee claim in Canada
  • Pose a danger to public security or have committed a serious crime or a human rights violation
  • Arrived at a Canadian POE from the United States and was not given permission to enter Canada to make a refugee claim (see Safe Third Country Agreement), but later entered without permission.
  • Have previously been granted protected person status in Canada 
  • Currently have an active removal order from the Canadian government.

If you are found not eligible to make a refugee claim, your case will not be referred to the IRB-RPD and you’ll be issued an enforceable removal order. You may be detained. You may be released with conditions to report for a future appointment, where you may be offered a Pre-Removal Risk Assessment (PRRA)

If you are eligible to make a refugee claim

If the CBSA officer decides you are eligible to make a refugee claim you will be given:

  • Your Refugee Protection Claimant Document (RPCD) which proves your identity and that you are a refugee claimant in Canada. It will explain your right to medical services through the Interim Federal Health Program. You will need this form to access other services and benefits in Canada.  The RPCD has your UCI.
  • Your Confirmation of Referral letter. This shows that the CBSA has sent your file to the IRB-RPD, where the decision on your refugee claim will be made.
  • Your Medical Report form with instructions for completing a medical examination.  All refugee claimants in Canada must have an Immigration Medical Exam (IME).
  • Your Claimant’s Kit. This includes: certified copies of the travel and identity documents that CBSA took from you, a Claimant’s Guide, copies of the forms you completed and possibly a written copy of the interviewing officer’s notes (which are also sent to the IRB-RPD, where you will have your refugee hearing).
  • Your Basis of Claim Form (BOC), and one for each family member. Submit your BOC Form to the IRB within 45 days. (While the document you receive may indicate that you have 15 days to submit your BOC, since COVID-19 this deadline has been extended to 45 days).

Your Immigration Medical Examination

All refugee claimants must get an Immigration Medical Exam (IME). The IME is separate for each family member and must be completed by a doctor that is approved by IRCC. There is no cost to you. Do not delay in getting the medical exam done. You must have an IME before your work permit application can be approved.

What to take to your medical exam

When you go to your medical exam, take:

  • Your Acknowledgement of Claim letter
  • The Medical Report Form IMM 1017E
  • An identity document, if you have one
  • Your eyeglasses or contact lenses, if you wear them
  • Proof of Covid-19 vaccination, if you have one
  • Any medical reports or test results about your previous or existing medical conditions, translated into English or French with a declaration signed by the translator.
  • Four photographs of each family member. Contact the doctor’s office before your appointment to find out if you need to bring photographs or if they will take your photograph at the doctor’s office.
Medical history and exam

The doctor will fill out a medical history questionnaire on you and do a medical exam.  As part of the exam the doctor will:

  • Weigh you and measure your height
  • Check your hearing and vision
  • Take your blood pressure and feel your pulse
  • Listen to your heart and lungs
  • Feel your abdomen
  • Check how your arms and legs move
  • Look at your skin
  • If a breast examination is required you will be given an explanation of how and why
  • You might also need to have chest x-rays and laboratory tests done.

You may request that someone accompany you at your medical examination.

Once your medical exam is done, the doctor will send the results to IRCC.

Completing your Basis of Claim Form

The Basis of Claim (BOC) Form is the most important document in your refugee claim. In your BOC Form you provide details about who you are and the reasons why you are seeking protection in Canada.

A Member of the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada – Refugee Protection Division (IRB-RPD) will use the information in your BOC Form, together with your testimony and other evidence, to decide if you are a Convention Refugee or Person in Need of Protection. You will be asked questions about your BOC Form at your refugee hearing.  The information in your BOC Form should be accurate, complete, true and consistent with the forms that you completed with CBSA.

If possible, get a lawyer or legal representative to help you prepare the BOC Form and the documents you will submit to support your claim. 

Completing the Basis of Claim Form

Electronic version of the BOC Form

Keep the following in mind when completing your BOC Form: 

  • Read the BOC Form instructions and the Claimant’s Guide
  • The BOC Form can only be filled in English or French. If you do not have strong English or French skills, find a competent interpreter to assist you  
  • Understand each question before answering it. Your answers must be true, correct and complete
  • Answer all questions on the BOC Form. Do not leave any blanks
  • Write “N/A” (Not Applicable) if a question does not apply to you
  • If you are not sure about dates or other information, you should say this in your BOC Form
  • You may choose to provide additional information to the BOC questions. This is in your narrative
  • The information on the BOC Form should agree with the information you provided in your eligibility forms, any statements, and any narrative or documents that you attach to your BOC Form
  • Be sure to keep a copy of your BOC Form, and every other document or form that you submit
  • Complete a separate BOC Form for each family member claiming refugee protection in Canada 
    • Each child 6 years old or younger who is claiming refugee protection with a parent: Complete only the “WHO YOU ARE” section of the BOC Form. A parent or the Designated Representative signs for the child
    • Each child 7 to 17 years old who is claiming refugee protection with a parent: Complete the entire BOC Form. A parent or the Designated Representative signs for the child
    • A child of any age under 18 who does not have an adult with them:  A Designated Representative named to represent the child in their claim must complete the entire BOC Form.

Your narrative

Your narrative is your opportunity to provide details about your refugee claim beyond what is written in your BOC Form.  A narrative is not required, but it may be a useful way to provide information about your situation that you may not have the opportunity to speak about at your refugee hearing.

Beginning your narrative

Consider the following before you begin your narrative:

  • Review your eligibility interview transcript from CBSA, any officer’s notes, your BOC Form and previous forms and any applications you have made to the government of Canada (including overseas).  Most of these documents should be in the Claimant’s Kit that you were given at your eligibility interview
  • Tell the truth. Your narrative must be true, accurate and correct. The easiest way to have your refugee claim denied is to have your testimony found to be not credible. If there is something in your narrative that is not consistent with what you said at your eligibility interview or in a previous application, take the opportunity to clarify this in your narrative
  • Stick to your story. Your narrative does not need to include all the details of your family, ID documents, education, employment, travel because you provided this information in your BOC and other forms. Do not make the narrative longer than required to discuss the important issues related to your refugee claim
  • Write concisely, in a well-organized manner, and make your narrative easy to read. Consider the IRB-RPD Member who will decide your refugee claim. The Members have many cases
  • Remember that refugee claims are forward looking, meaning you need to explain the danger you face if you go back to your country, not only events that happened in the past
  • Include the emotional and physical impact that the events you described had on you and your family.
Legal issues

In your narrative, consider the following legal issues:

  • What is the danger that you face if you return to your country or countries of citizenship? What specific threats or actions have been taken against you? What have people in a similar situation confronted? Who do you fear will hurt you? Provide names of individuals or groups who have threatened you. Does everyone in your country face the same danger, or have you been targeted?
  • Why do they want to hurt you? Is it because of your race, religion, nationality, political opinion or because you belong to a certain group of people that they are against? If you belong to a group of people who are being targeted, describe this group. If you belong to a target group, describe the group and give details about your participation
  • How would the people who want to hurt you find you if you had to return to your country? Do they have a way to find you in other parts of the country?
  • Did you try to get protection from the police or other authorities in your country? If you did, what happened? If you didn’t ask for protection, why not? Do you know other people in your situation who asked for protection? What happened to them?
  • Can you live safely in another part of your country? Why not? Give details other than that you don’t have friends or family anywhere in your country to live with.
  • Why did you choose to leave the country at the time that you did?  Was there a delay between when you realized you were in danger and the date you left? What caused the delay?
  • If you left your country because you were in danger and then returned, explain why you returned. Was there an important reason? Did you take steps to protect yourself?
  • If it took you a long time to make a refugee claim after arriving in Canada explain why
  • If you went through a safe country on your way to Canada, explain why you didn’t make a refugee claim there. If you did make a refugee claim in another country, what happened?
  • Are there any other reasons specific to you as to why you cannot relocate in your country, such as medical needs or challenges with finding housing or employment?
Completing your narrative

When you have completed your narrative, review it with your legal representative carefully and edit it as needed. If you do not have a legal representative, ask someone you trust to read it over for you.  

Each page of your narrative should have your name, UCI and IRB File number written on the top right of the page.

Once your narrative is complete and you are satisfied with it, it must be translated into English or French. Ask the translator to read it back to you and listen carefully to ensure that the narrative  says what you intended. The translator will need to write a translator’s declaration and sign and date the declaration.

If you are submitting your narrative at the same time that you submit your BOC, simply attach it to your BOC. If you are submitting your narrative to the IRB-RPD after your BOC has been submitted, remember that it should be received by the IRB-RPD 10 days or more prior to your refugee hearing. Follow instructions for submitting evidence to the IRB-RPD.

How to submit your Basis of Claim Form to the IRB-RPD

Submitting your BOC Form

When you complete your BOC Form, you need to send it to the correct regional IRB-RPD office:

If you live in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Yukon, Northwest Territories

  • Fax: 604-666-3043 if your BOC Form is under 50 pages long. 
    • Keep your original BOC Form and proof that the documents were sent successfully from the fax machine
  • Mail: IRB–RPD, 300 West Georgia Street, Suite 1600 Vancouver, BC V6B 6C9 
    • Keep your original BOC Form. Mail your BOC Form package from a Canada Post office and request priority service. You will need to pay a fee. You will get a receipt and be able to track delivery. Be sure to mail your BOC Form early so it arrives on time.
  • Email: [email protected] 
    • Follow these instructions carefully: Your BOC Form and any other documents you would like to submit must be submitted as an attachment in pdf format. Do not write anything in the body of the email. Write your UCI number (and your IRB-RPD number, and hearing date if you have one) as well as the type of document you are submitting in the subject line. Questions, applications or requests submitted in the body of the email will not be accepted. All documents must be submitted as attachments. Submissions are limited to 20MB.
  • Electronic filing: Your legal representative may use the Canada Post e-post Connect to submit your BOC. 
  • Courier: IRB–RPD, 300 West Georgia Street, Suite 1600 Vancouver, BC V6B 6C9
    • If you or your legal representative are not able to use any of the above options, you may also use a courier service.  Keep your original BOC Form and the courier service receipt.
  • Do not submit your BOC Form in person at this time.

If you live in Ontario (except Ottawa and Kingston)

  • Fax: 416-954-1165, 416-973-9307 or 416-973-4013 if it is under 50 pages long. 
    • Keep your original BOC Form and proof that the documents were sent successfully from the fax machine
  • Mail: 74 Victoria Street, Suite 400  Toronto, Ontario  M5C 3C7   
    • Keep your original BOC Form. Mail your BOC Form package from a Canada Post office and request priority service. You will need to pay a fee. You will get a receipt and be able to track delivery. Be sure to mail your BOC Form early so it arrives on time.
  • Email: [email protected] ​​
    • Follow these instructions carefully: Your BOC Form and any other documents you would like to submit must be submitted as an attachment in pdf format. Do not write anything in the body of the email. Write your UCI number (and your IRB-RPD number, and hearing date if you have one) as well as the type of document you are submitting in the subject line. Questions, applications or requests submitted in the body of the email will not be accepted. All documents must be submitted as attachments. Submissions are limited to 20MB.
  • Electronic filing: Your legal representative may use the Canada Post e-post Connect to submit your BOC. 
  • Courier: 74 Victoria Street, Suite 400  Toronto, Ontario  M5C 3C7  
    • If you or your legal representative are not able to use any of the above options, you may also use a courier service.  Keep your original BOC Form and the courier service receipt.
  • Do not submit your BOC Form in person at this time.

If you live in Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland, Nunavut, Kingston (Ontario), Ottawa (Ontario)

  • Fax: 514-283-0164 if it is under 50 pages long
    • Keep your original BOC Form and proof that the documents were sent successfully from the fax machine
  • Mail: IRB-RPD, Guy-Favreau​ Complex, 200 René-Lévesque Blvd. West, East Tower, Room 102, Montréal, Quebec H2Z 1X4   
    • Keep your original BOC Form. Mail your BOC Form package from a Canada Post office and request priority service. You will need to pay a fee. You will get a receipt and be able to track delivery. Be sure to mail your BOC Form early so it arrives on time.
  • Email: [email protected] 
    • Follow these instructions carefully: Your BOC Form and any other documents you would like to submit must be submitted as an attachment in pdf format. Do not write anything in the body of the email. Write your UCI number (and your IRB-RPD number, and hearing date if you have one) as well as the type of document you are submitting in the subject line. Questions, applications or requests submitted in the body of the email will not be accepted. All documents must be submitted as attachments. Submissions are limited to 20MB.
  • Electronic filing: Your legal representative may use the Canada Post e-post Connect to submit your BOC. 
  • Courier: IRB-RPD, Guy-Favreau​ Complex, 200 René-Lévesque Blvd. West, East Tower, Room 102, Montréal, Quebec H2Z 1X4 
    • If you or your legal representative are not able to use any of the above options, you may also use a courier service.  Keep your original BOC Form and the courier service receipt.
  • Do not submit your BOC Form in person at this time.

After you submit your Basis of Claim Form

If you forgot something or made a mistake on your BOC form

Follow these steps:

Make the change on your copy of the BOC Form and / or narrative and underline it. Then sign your name and date each page where you have made a change.

OR

Write a letter explaining what the changes are, where they are located in the document you are correcting, and why you made these changes. Write, “These changes are complete, true, and correct, and I understand that the declaration is of the same force and effect as if made under oath.” Sign and date your letter.

Submit one (1) copy of the original pages and the changed pages with your letter to the IRB-RPD at least 10 days before your hearing.  If the Minister’s Counsel has notified you that they are participating in your hearing, send the Minister’s Counsel a copy of these changes. 

Keep a copy for your own records.

Withdrawing your refugee claim

If you withdraw your claim the conditional removal order that you were given at your eligibility interview becomes enforceable, which means that you can be removed from Canada.  You will not be able to change your mind or make another refugee claim in the future if you withdraw your claim.  See a legal representative before you withdraw your claim. 

Inland Claim

Starting your refugee claim inside Canada on the IRCC Portal

If you are in Canada, you will make your refugee claim on the online IRCC Portal, to begin the process. This information will be used to decide your eligibility to make a refugee claim and to decide if you will be given refugee protection at your refugee hearing.

Starting the process

To start the process, you will need to take the following steps:

  1. Create an invitation code to sign up for an account.
  2. Sign up for an account on the IRCC Portal.
  3. Once you have signed into your account click “Make a refugee claim” under “Start an application”.

Completing your Basis of Claim Form

The Basis of Claim (BOC) Form is the most important document in your refugee claim. In your BOC Form you provide details about who you are and the reasons why you are seeking protection in Canada.

Your BOC Form must be submitted on the IRCC Portal.

A Member of the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada – Refugee Protection Division (IRB-RPD) will use the information in your BOC Form, together with your testimony and other evidence, to decide if you are a Convention Refugee or Person in Need of Protection. You will be asked questions about your BOC Form at your refugee hearing. 

Considerations the Basis of Claim Form

Keep the following in mind when completing your BOC Form:

  • Download the BOC Form here.
  • Read the BOC Form instructions and the Claimant’s Guide
  • The BOC Form can only be filled in English or French.  If you do not have strong English or French skills, find a competent interpreter to assist you
  • Understand each question before answering it. Your answers must be true, correct and complete
  • Answer all questions on the BOC Form. Do not leave any blanks
  • Write “N/A” (Not Applicable) if a question does not apply to you
  • If you are not sure about dates or other information, you should say this in your BOC Form
  • You may choose to provide additional information to the BOC Form. This is in your narrative
  • The information on the BOC Form should agree with the information you provide on the IRCC Portal and any narrative or documents that you attach to your BOC Form
  • Be sure to print out and keep a copy of your BOC Form, and every other document or form that you submit
  • Complete a separate BOC Form for each family member claiming refugee protection in Canada 
    • Each child 6 years old or younger who is claiming refugee protection with a parent: Complete only the “WHO YOU ARE” section of the BOC Form. A parent or the Designated Representative signs for the child
    • Each child 7 to 17 years old who is claiming refugee protection with a parent: Complete the entire BOC Form. A parent or the Designated Representative signs for the child
    • A child of any age under 18 who does not have an adult with them:  A Designated Representative named to represent the child in their claim must complete the entire BOC Form. 

Your narrative

Your narrative is your opportunity to provide details about your refugee claim beyond what is written in your BOC Form.  A narrative is not required, but it may be a useful way to provide information about your situation that you may not have the opportunity to speak about at your refugee hearing.

Beginning your narrative

Consider the following before you begin your narrative:

  • Review your eligibility interview transcript from CBSA, any officer’s notes, your BOC Form and previous forms and any applications you have made to the government of Canada (including overseas).  Most of these documents should be in the Claimant’s Kit that you were given at your eligibility interview
  • Tell the truth. Your narrative must be true, accurate and correct. The easiest way to have your refugee claim denied is to have your testimony found to be not credible. If there is something in your narrative that is not consistent with what you said at your eligibility interview or in a previous application, take the opportunity to clarify this in your narrative
  • Stick to your story. Your narrative does not need to include all the details of your family, ID documents, education, employment, travel because you provided this information in your BOC and other forms. Do not make the narrative longer than required to discuss the important issues related to your refugee claim 
  • Write concisely, in a well-organized manner, and make your narrative easy to read. Consider the IRB-RPD Member who will decide your refugee claim. The Members have many cases
  • Remember that refugee claims are forward looking, meaning you need to explain the danger you face if you go back to your country, not only events that happened in the past
  • Include the emotional and physical impact that the events you described had on you and your family
Legal issues

In your narrative, consider the following legal issues:

  • What is the danger that you face if you return to your country or countries of citizenship? What specific threats or actions have been taken against you? What have people in a similar situation confronted? Who do you fear will hurt you? Provide names of individuals or groups who have threatened you. Does everyone in your country face the same danger, or have you been targeted?
  • Why do they want to hurt you? Is it because of your race, religion, nationality, political opinion or because you belong to a certain group of people that they are against ? If you belong to a group of people who are being targeted, describe this group. If you belong to a target group, describe the group and give details about your participation
  • How would the people who want to hurt you find you if you had to return to your country? Do they have a way to find you in other parts of the country?
  • Did you try to get protection from the police or other authorities in your country? If you did, what happened? If you didn’t ask for protection, why not? Do you know other people in your situation who asked for protection? What happened to them?
  • Can you live safely in another part of your country? Why not? Give details other than that you don’t have friends or family anywhere in your country to live with.
  • Why did you choose to leave the country at the time that you did?  Was there a delay between when you realized you were in danger and the date you left? What caused the delay?
  • If you left your country because you were in danger and then returned, explain why you returned. Was there an important reason? Did you take steps to protect yourself?
  • If it took you a long time to make a refugee claim after arriving in Canada explain why 
  • If you went through a safe country on your way to Canada, explain why you didn’t make a refugee claim there. If you did make a refugee claim in another country, what happened?
  • Are there any other reasons specific to you as to why you cannot relocate in your country, such as medical needs or challenges with finding housing or employment?
Completing your narrative

When you have completed your narrative, review it with your legal representative carefully and edit it as needed. If you do not have a legal representative, ask someone you trust to read it over for you.  

Each page of your narrative should have your name, UCI and IRB File number written on the top right of the page.

Once your narrative  is complete and you are satisfied with it, it must be translated into English or French. Ask the translator to read it back to you and listen carefully to ensure that the narrative  says what you intended. The translator will need to write a translator’s declaration and sign and date the declaration.

If you are submitting your narrative at the same time that you submit your BOC, simply attach it to your BOC. If you are submitting your narrative to the IRB-RPD after your BOC has been submitted, remember that it should be received by the IRB-RPD 10 days or more prior to your refugee hearing. Follow instructions for submitting evidence to the IRB-RPD.

Using the IRCC Portal

You need to open a IRCC Portal account to answer questions and to submit your BOC Form and supporting documents.

How to start

To start the process, you will need to take the following steps:

  1. Create an invitation code to sign up for an account.
  2. Sign up for an account on the IRCC Portal.
  3. Once you have signed into your account click “Make a refugee claim” under “Start an application”.
Documents
Required

Before you start your claim, make sure that you have the following documents:

  • your passport or travel document
  • a complete BOC Form
  • Use of a Representative form (if applicable)
  • Declaration – Authorization for representative to submit refugee claim through the IRCC Portal (if your representative is submitting the portal claim on your behalf).
Optional

You can upload other documents in support of your claim, including:

  • identity documents
  • proof of your arrival and entrance to Canada
  • proof of membership in political organizations, unions, or other groups
  • police or medical reports
  • business records
  • a copy of your Green Card
  • a copy of any criminal convictions
  • proof of ill treatment, desecration, or looting you witnessed or took part in News
  • articles and human rights reports on country conditions, etc.
  • any other document that could support your claim for refugee protection
  • an explanation of any difficulties you had in submitting or providing information in the portal
  • Appointment of a Designated Representative for Accompanied Minors form (if applicable).
Completing the IRCC Portal application

Once you are in your account you must answer all the questions on the IRCC Portal.  You cannot submit your refugee claim until all of the questions are answered.

You are able to submit one application for yourself, and your spouse and children.

You will be asked questions regarding the following:

  • legal representative
  • personal information
  • contact information
  • family information
  • travel to Canada
  • education, work and other activities
  • security questions
  • medical history
  • claim details.
Submitting your claim

Once you answer all of the questions and upload your documents, you can submit your claim. Please note that once you click “Submit Application” you cannot modify or add information.

After you submit your claim

You will receive a confirmation email from IRCC.

You can return to the your IRCC Portal account to see updates on the status of your application.

Tips for using the IRCC Portal
  • If you can, get a lawyer or other legal representative to assist you in making your refugee claim on the IRCC Portal
  • Have your BOC Form completed, reviewed and saved before creating and submitting an application on the IRCC Portal
  • Stay in control of your answers when using an interpreter. All responses to questions on the IRCC Portal must be in English or French. If you use an interpreter to help you answer the questions in the IRCC Portal, ask your interpreter to read all the IRCC Portal questions and answers back to you in your language
  • Do not guess or invent a date when requested in the IRCC Portal, if you do not know or remember a date. If the question requires an answer with the exact day/month/year and you do not know the exact day you could write the first day of the month and the year
  • Do not press “Submit your Application” in the portal until the information and forms you have entered have been reviewed for accuracy and completeness. If possible, have a lawyer or your legal representative review your whole application.

After you submit your claim

After you submit your claim online IRCC will review it to make sure it is complete. 

If it is complete, IRCC will:

  • Add your refugee claim and the claims for your family members to their system
  • Send you an Acknowledgement of Claim letter which will help you get access to services and programs
  • Send you a Medical Report form (IMM 1017E) and instructions for getting a immigration medical exam
  • Send you a letter about your next appointment, once it is scheduled.

If your claim is incomplete, IRCC will tell you what is missing.

You will get an email if IRCC updates your account or uploads a document for you. Make sure you check your email regularly.

Your Immigration Medical Examination

All refugee claimants must get an Immigration Medical Exam (IME). The IME is separate for each family member. Your medical exam must be completed by a doctor that is approved by IRCC. There is no cost to you. Do not delay in getting the medical exam done. You must have an IME before your work permit application can be approved.

What to take to your medical exam

When you go to your medical exam, take:

  • Your Acknowledgement of Claim letter
  • The Medical Report Form IMM 1017E
  • An identity document, if you have one
  • Your eyeglasses or contact lenses, if you wear them
  • Proof of Covid-19 vaccination, if you have one
  • Any medical reports or test results about your previous or existing medical conditions, translated into English or French with a declaration signed by the translator.
  • Four photographs of each family member. Contact the doctor’s office before your appointment to find out if you need to bring photographs or if they will take your photograph at the doctor’s office.
Medical history and exam

The doctor will fill out a medical history questionnaire on you and do a medical exam.  As part of the exam the doctor will:

  • Weigh you and measure your height
  • Check your hearing and vision
  • Take your blood pressure and feel your pulse
  • Listen to your heart and lungs
  • Feel your abdomen
  • Check how your arms and legs move
  • Look at your skin
  • If a breast examination is required you will be given an explanation of how and why
  • You might also need to have chest x-rays and laboratory tests done.

You may request that someone accompany you at your medical examination.

Once your medical exam is done, the doctor will send the results to IRCC.

Your biometrics appointment with IRCC

After you have successfully submitted your claim, you will be sent a date for your biometrics appointment to provide your fingerprints and photos.  Your family members who need to attend the appointment will be listed on the appointment notice. Make sure to take:

  • Your passport and other identity documents. Your original identity documents will likely be taken from you at this time. You will be given certified copies of these documents at your eligibility interview. Make sure to keep these certified copies as you may need them at a later date.
  • The Acknowledgement of Claim letter you were sent
  • The appointment notice.

Your eligibility interview with IRCC

You will be interviewed and asked questions so that IRCC can decide if you are eligible to make a claim in Canada. This is called the eligibility interview. This interview is not your refugee hearing.

What will happen during the eligibility interview

During your appointment, an IRCC officer will:

  • Review your application (BOC Form and all the information from the IRCC Portal) and ask you questions about the information you provided
  • Give you a conditional removal order, which will become enforceable if you are not approved at your refugee hearing as a refugee or protected person in Canada
  • Ask you to confirm the names, dates, places of birth and contact information of your family members
  • Interview you to decide if your claim is eligible. An interpreter will be provided at no cost to you.

Some of the questions you may be asked are:

  • Why did you come to Canada?
  • Who or what are you afraid of in your country?
  • What would happen to you if you returned to your country?
  • Have you ever been arrested, or detained?
  • Have you made a refugee claim in another country?
  • In what countries do you have legal residence or citizenship?
  • How did you travel to Canada?
  • Who helped you come to Canada?
  • Do you have any relatives in Canada?
If you are found to be eligible to make a refugee claim

If IRCC decides that you are eligible to make a refugee claim, IRCC will:

  • Give you a Confirmation of Referral letter and send your claim to the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada – Refugee Protection Division (IRB-RPD), who will contact you about your hearing date once they have reviewed your file  
  • Give you a Refugee Protection Claimant Document (RPCD).  The RPCD proves your identity and that you are a refugee claimant in Canada. With this document you are eligible for medical services through the Interim Federal Health Program . You will need this form to access other services and benefits in Canada. The form has your UCI number
  • Explain the next steps in the claim process to you, including that you must update the government agencies that are involved in your claim when you change your contact information. It is very important to keep IRCC, CBSA,  and the IRB-RPD updated with your current address, email address and phone number
  • Give you a Claimant’s Kit which will include certified copies of the travel and identity documents that IRCC took from you, a Claimant’s Guide, and possibly a written copy of the questions you were asked and answers you gave at your eligibility interview (which are also sent to the IRB, where you will have your refugee hearing).

After a successful eligibility interview you will wait for your refugee hearing that will take place before the IRB-RPD. 

If you are found eligible to make a refugee claim, start thinking about what types of evidence you can start to gather to support your refugee claim. 

If you are found to be ineligible to make a refugee claim

You may not be eligible to make a refugee claim in Canada if:

  • You have convention refugee status in another country that you can return to
  • You previously made a refugee claim in the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia or New Zealand
  • You previously made a refugee claim in Canada that was refused, abandoned, or withdrawn
  • You were previously found ineligible to make a refugee claim in Canada
  • You pose a danger to public security or have committed a serious crime or a human rights violation
  • You arrived at a Canadian POE from the United States and were not given permission to enter Canada to make a refugee claim (Safe Third Country Agreement), but later entered without permission.
  • You have previously been granted protected person status in Canada 
  • You currently have an active removal order from the Canadian government.

If you are found not eligible to make a refugee claim, your case will not be referred to the IRB-RPD and you will be issued an enforceable removal order. You may be detained. You may be released with conditions to report for a future appointment, where you may be offered a Pre-Removal Risk Assessment (PRRA)

Withdrawing your refugee claim

If you decide to withdraw your refugee claim, the conditional removal order that you were given at your eligibility interview becomes enforceable, meaning that you can be removed from Canada.  You will not be able to change your mind or make another refugee claim in the future.  Talk to your legal representative before you take this action.