Meet the Three Government Agencies Involved in Your Refugee Claim Process

It is important for you to understand the three different government agencies involved in the refugee claim process. Each agency acts independently and has roles and responsibilities. These agencies do not automatically share information with each other.

The three government agencies are: 

  • Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) 
  • Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA)
  • Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB). 

Role of IRCC

If you start your refugee claim from within Canada you will submit your application to IRCC. 

IRCC has the following roles in your refugee claim process:

  • Receive and process your application to begin a refugee claim from within Canada
  • Decide if you are eligible to make a claim 
  • Refer your refugee claim information (if you are eligible) to the IRB-RPD.

IRCC may oppose your refugee claim by sending written documents or a representative, called the Minister’s Counsel, to argue against you at your hearing. You will know if IRCC is opposing your refugee claim because they will send you or your legal representative a letter, called a Notice of Intervention.

IRCC is also responsible for:  

Role of CBSA

If you start your refugee claim at a Port of Entry (border, airport or marine port) or from immigration detention you will make your refugee claim to a CBSA officer.

CBSA has the following roles in your refugee claim process:

  • Initiate and process your application to begin a refugee claim
  • Decide if you are eligible to make a claim
  • Refer your refugee claim information (if you are eligible) to the IRB-RPD.

CBSA may oppose your refugee claim by sending written documents or a representative, called the Minister’s Counsel, to argue against you at your hearing. You will know that CBSA is opposing your refugee claim because they will send you or your legal representative a letter, called a Notice of Intervention.

CBSA is also responsible for:

  • Controlling Canada’s borders and deciding who can enter Canada and who must leave
  • Arranging the removal from Canada of refugee claimants who receive a negative decision on their refugee claim and have no other legal options to remain in Canada.

CBSA has the right to detain you:

  • If they cannot confirm your identity,
  • If they believe you may be a danger to Canadian society, or
  • If they believe you are not going to comply with one of Canada’s immigration laws.

If you are detained, you have the right to a lawyer or legal representative and a hearing will be held to discuss your release.

Role of the IRB

After you have been assessed for eligibility by either IRCC or CBSA, your refugee claim application will be sent to the IRB. The IRB has four divisions:

The IRB-RPD will process and make a decision on your claim, and has the following roles in your claim process:

  • Review your Basis of Claim (BOC) Form and all other documents and evidence submitted in support of your refugee claim
  • Conduct your refugee hearing
  • Decide whether your refugee claim is accepted or rejected
  • Provide orientation to the refugee hearing through the Ready Tour.

Keep your address up to date with all three agencies

It is important to keep your contact information up to date so that you do not miss any letters or correspondence containing important information about your refugee claim.

Changing your address with the IRB-RPD

There are two ways to notify the IRB-RPD of your new address or phone number:

When filling the form or writing a letter be sure to include:

  • Your new address, phone number, or email
  • Your name
  • Your IRB File Number or your Client ID (called your UCI Number) – these can be found on any letters from the IRB or on your Refugee Protection Claimant Document.

You can submit the form or letter to the IRB by mail, fax, or email.

Changing your address with IRCC

To change your address with IRCC you can go to the Webform and follow the steps to put in your new address.

Tips for filling in the Webform:

  • Select “Change of Contact Information” when you are asked to put in your “type of application/enquiry”
  • Find your UCI number on your Refugee Protection Claimant Document or on any letters from IRCC.
Changing your address with CBSA

At your interview with CBSA, an officer will provide you with instructions on how and where to notify CBSA of any change to your contact information.