The Canadian refugee protection system consists of two main programs, namely, the Refugee and Humanitarian Resettlement Program for people who are outside Canada and in need of protection, and the In-Canada Asylum Program for people who make refugee protection claims inside of Canada.

Refugee claims under the In-Canada Asylum Program may be referred by reviewing officers to the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada for a determination about whether the refugee claimant is a Convention refugee or a person in need of protection.

Convention refugees are people who are outside their home country or the country where they normally live. Convention refugees are not able to return to their country of nationality or usual residence because of a well-founded fear of persecution due to their race, religion, political opinion, nationality, or membership in a particular social group.

A person in need of protection is a person who is in Canada, unable to safely return to their home country because, if they were to return, they would be in danger of torture, or subjected to a risk to their life, or a risk of cruel and unusual treatment or punishment.

A refugee claim may not be eligible to be referred to the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB) if the refugee claimant has been recognized as a Convention refugee by another country to where the refugee claimant can return.

Other situations where a refugee claim may not be referred to the IRB include where the person has already been granted protected person status in Canada, where the person is not admissible to Canada on security grounds, or because of human rights violations or criminal activity, where the person has previously made a refugee claim that was found to be ineligible, where the person’s prior refugee claim was rejected by the IRB, or where the person has abandoned or withdrawn a previous refugee claim.

Persons who arrive in Canada by train or at a land border crossing between Canada and the United States of America may also be ineligible to gain status as refugees in Canada.