The Safe Third Country Agreement (“Agreement”) was signed by officials of Canada and the United States on December 5, 2002. This was introduced as part of the Smart Border Action Plan. Essentially, the Agreement requires the refugee claimants to request refugee protection in the first safe country they arrive in, unless they qualify for an exception to the Agreement. To date, the US is the only designated safe country.
The Agreement applies only to the refugee claimants who are seeking entry to Canada from the U.S.:
- at Canada-U.S. land border crossings
- by train or
- at airports, only if the person seeking refugee protection in Canada has been refused refugee status in the U.S. and is in transit through Canada after being deported from the U.S.
1. Refugee claimants may qualify under exceptions if they have a family member who:
- is a Canadian citizen
- is a permanent resident of Canada
- is a protected person under Canadian immigration legislation
- has made a claim for refugee status in Canada that has been accepted by the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB)
- has had his or her removal order stayed on humanitarian and compassionate grounds
- holds a valid Canadian work permit
- holds a valid Canadian study permit, or
- is over 18 years old and has a claim for refugee protection that has been referred to the IRB for determination. (This claim must not have been withdrawn by the family member, declared abandoned or rejected by the IRB or found ineligible for referral to the IRB.)
2. Refugee claimants may qualify under exceptions if they are minors (under the age of 18) who:
- are not accompanied by their mother, father or legal guardian
- have neither a spouse nor a common-law partner, and
- do not have a mother, a father or a legal guardian in Canada or the United States.
3. Refugee claimants may qualify under exceptions if they are Canadian visa holders such as work permit, study permit, or hold a travel document or other valid admission document issued by Canada, or are not required to get a temporary resident visa to enter Canada but require a US visa to enter the US.
4. Refugee claimants may qualify under exceptions if they have been charged with or convicted of an offence that could subject them to the death penalty in the U.S. or in a third country.
What needs to be noted is even if the claimant falls into one of the exceptions, the claimant still needs to demonstrate that he is admissible to Canada. Individuals can make an asylum claim in Canada at a port of entry or at an inland CBSA or Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) office. The claimant needs to meet the definition of a convention refugee or protected person in order to receive a positive decision on a refugee claim. MEHDI AU LLP has immigration lawyers to help you with your case, contact us today.
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