How can a refugee lose their status in Canada?

Question: 
How can a refugee lose their status in Canada?
Answer: 

The Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) can apply to the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) for an order that takes away someone's status as a protected person.

One type of order that does this is called a "cessation" order. (The Minister can also apply for a “vacation” order. There are also other reasons for cessation not discussed here.)

What is cessation?

The IRB makes a cessation order if it decides after a hearing that a person no longer needs refugee protection.

In some cases, cessation can lead to a refugee also losing their permanent resident status.

Even permanent residents who have lived in Canada for many years could be forced to leave.

One of the reasons that a refugee can lose their permanent resident status is if they voluntarily go back under the protection of their "country of nationality". This is the country they were a citizen of when they fled.

Going back under the protection of the country of nationality is called "re-availment".

The Minister may apply for cessation based on this reason if a protected person has:

  • travelled to their country of nationality
  • applied for or renewed a passport issued by that country

How would the Minister find out about a person's passport or travel history?

When a permanent resident comes back to Canada, a Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) officer questions them.

CBSA officers look for cases where the Minister could apply for cessation.

The Minister might also apply for cessation if a protected person applies for Canadian citizenship and has visited their home country in the last four years.

Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) asks citizenship applicants about every trip they took outside Canada in the last four years. They have to say where they went, for how long, and the reason they travelled.

CIC can also get information from CBSA about every time a person enters Canada.

Any type of application that asks for information about travel history could put a protected person at risk. This is because it could lead to the Minister applying for cessation.

These types of applications include:

  • an application for Canadian citizenship
  • an application to Passport Canada for a refugee travel document
  • an application to CIC for a new or replacement permanent resident card
  • an application to CIC to sponsor a spouse or partner in the home country if the sponsor has visited them there

How can a permanent resident avoid a cessation application?

A protected person who is not a Canadian citizen should:

  • not apply for or renew a passport from their country of nationality or travel to that country
  • get legal advice before making any application to CIC or Passport Canada

If they need to travel, they should use a refugee travel document instead of a passport from their country of nationality. If they need to go back to that country, they should get legal advice before going so they understand the risks.

A protected person should also get legal advice before applying for citizenship in a country other than Canada.

Getting a new citizenship can also lead to a cessation order that strips a refugee of their permanent resident status and leads to removal from Canada.
 

What should a protected person do if the Minister has applied for cessation?

They should get legal help.

A lawyer may be able to convince the IRB that the Minister's application should fail. For example, the person may have returned to their country or gotten a passport for reasons that show that they didn't go back under the protection of that country.

If there already is a cessation order, it is difficult to challenge the decision. But a lawyer can ask the Federal Court if it will agree to review the decision. 

This answer is taken from CLEO's On the Radar - June 2014.

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