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Claim for Refugee Protection (Residing outside Canada)

At Edmonton Law Office, we are committed to providing caring and professional assistance to individuals who are seeking asylum safety from outside of Canada. We understand that the process of seeking asylum can be overwhelming and challenging, which is why our experienced lawyers are here to guide you every step of the way. Whether you have received a referral from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) or another referral organization, or you have not received a referral, we can help.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)

The UNHCR is responsible for referring refugees who are outside of their home country and are in need of resettlement to a third country like Canada. As outlined on their website,, the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees office “is a global organization dedicated to saving lives, protecting rights and building a better future for refugees, forcibly displaced communities and stateless people”.

If you receive a referral from the UNHCR, it means that the UNHCR has determined that you meet the criteria for refugee status, which includes having a well-founded fear of persecution due to your race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group, such as your sexual orientation. Our lawyers can assist you with your refugee application, which may lead to your permanent residency in Canada.

However, let’s look at the steps taken with or without a referral by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

When you receive a referral from the UNHCR or another referral organization

If you have received a referral from the UNHCR, this does not automatically grant you refugee status in Canada. Rather, you must still be sponsored by the Government of Canada or through private sponsorship.

Government of Canada Sponsorships – The Government of Canada may directly sponsor you as a refugee once a referral is made by either the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) or another referral organization.

Private Sponsorships – An individual or family seeking refuge in Canada may also obtain sponsorship through private sponsorship. The following are the most popular forms of Private Sponsorships:

  1. Group of 5 Sponsorship – A Canadian Citizen or a Permanent Resident can not sponsor a refugee by him or herself but can be a part of a group to sponsor an overseas refugee. A minimum of 5 people can form a group to sponsor an individual. However, there are still certain conditions that must be met. Here are some of the conditions:
    1. The refugee should be a recognized refugee either by the UNHCR or by the Government of the Country where they have obtained temporary refuge;
    2. The group of sponsors must provide a plan of resettlement for the persons or family seeking refuge, along with proof of funds available for the individual or family to care for them for a period of at least one year from the day they arrive in Canada; and
    3. There are other eligibility requirements for each member of the group of sponsors as well.

Contact our immigration lawyers at Edmonton Law Office to discuss this form of sponsorship in more detail.

  1. Community Sponsorship – Rather than requiring a group of 5 individuals to sponsor the refugee, a community can sponsor the refugee instead. There are certain communities, non-governmental organizations and non-profit organizations who can assist with the sponsoring and resettlement of refugee families. These community sponsorships are subject to similar conditions as those outlined for the group of 5 sponsors.

Contact one of our Alberta Immigration Lawyers who can assist you with community sponsorship.

When you do not receive a referral from the UNHCR or another organization

In order to obtain refugee status, It is not always necessary to receive a referral from the UNHCR or another referral organization. For example, you can still receive refugee status in Canada via the Government Assisted Special Refugee Programs or through a Sponsorship Agreement Holder:

Government-Assisted Special Refugee Programs

From time to time, the Government of Canada assists Refugees and displaced persons under different Government streams and programs. Under these special programs, a referral from the UNHCR or a referral organization is not required. Currently, the following are some of the government-assisted programs being carried out by the Canadian Federal Government:

  1. Human Rights Defenders Steam – a program that attempts to protect individuals around the world whose human rights have been threatened or violated;
  2. Welcome Afghans – a program dedicated to welcoming vulnerable or threatened Afghans; and
  3. For people affected by the Russian Invasion of Ukraine.

Contact one of our immigration lawyers in Edmonton who can assist you with seeking refugee status either under this program or any other program available in Canada.

Sponsorship Agreement Holders (SAH)

There are certain religious and other communities, as well as other groups who have entered into a Sponsorship Agreement with the Government of Canada. These groups and communities are referred to as Sponsorship Agreement Holders (SAH).

Holders of these agreements may sponsor refugees from overseas countries. Generally, they do not need a referral from the UNHCR to sponsor refugees. Sponsorship Agreement Holders are responsible for the resettlement of refugees and their families.


Q: Who is eligible for refugee status in Canada?

A: Convention refugees and persons in need of protection are eligible in Canada to claim for refugee protection. Convention refugees are individuals who are outside their home country and are unable or unwilling to return due to a well-founded fear of persecution. Persons in need of protection are individuals who are inside Canada and who face the danger of torture, death, or cruel or unusual treatment or punishment in their home country.

Q: What is the difference between a refugee and a permanent resident?

A: A refugee is someone who is outside their home country and is in need of protection. A permanent resident is someone who has been granted the right to live and work in Canada permanently.

Q: What is a medical exam and why is it required?

A medical exam is a requirement for individuals who are applying for permanent residence in Canada. The medical exam includes a physical examination, laboratory tests, and a review of your medical history. The purpose of the medical exam is to ensure that you do not pose a health risk to Canadians and that you do not have a medical condition that would make it difficult for you to settle in Canada.

Q: How long does the refugee application process take?

A: The refugee claims application process can take several months to several years, depending on various factors, such as the complexity of your case and the backlog of refugee claims at the time of your application. Our experienced lawyers will work with you to ensure that your application is processed as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Professional legal assistance every step of the way

At Edmonton Law Office, we are here to provide caring and professional assistance to individuals who are seeking asylum safety from outside of Canada. We understand the challenges and the emotions involved in this process, and our experienced lawyers will guide you every step of the way. Contact us today to set up a free, no-obligation consultation and let us help you make your dream of becoming a permanent resident in Canada a reality.

We have a very high success rate of refugee claims acceptance. We’ll help you to determine your eligibility, gather and prepare the necessary documentation, and navigate the various stages of the process. With the help of an experienced immigration lawyer in Edmonton, you can increase your chances of a successful outcome towards obtaining refugee / protected person status in Canada and work towards you Permanent Residency in Canada.

Contact us online or by phone at (780) 784-6666 to set up a free, no-obligation consultation today.

photo of two hands shaped as a heart, an image with Ukraine's flag and Canada's flag, depicting Canada and Ukraine as partners to assist the people of Ukraine with protection from war.
Canada has become a popular destination for refugees seeking asylum from the unfortunate events in Ukraine and other parts of the world. Contact Edmonton Law Office for help filing a claim for refugee protection in Canada.

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