Refugee determination system

On 15 December 2012, important changes to Canada’s refugee determination system came into effect. These changes are contained in Bill C-31 which make numerous changes to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.

The Canadian Council for Refugees is seriously concerned that the changes to the law create a two-tier system of refugee protection in Canada. It makes refugee protection in Canada dangerously vulnerable to political whims, rather than ensuring a fair and independent decision about who is a refugee. It also includes costly measures to detain refugee claimants. An overview of the CCR's concerns is available here.

Practical information regarding the new refugee determination system

Refugee Hearing Preparation: A Guide for Refugee Claimants

Note: Court strikes down appeal bar for nationals of Designated Countries of Origin, 24 July 2015

CCR Report, Cessation: stripping refugees of their status in Canada, May 2014

Overview of C-31 refugee determination process (word document)

Diagram - Refugee determination system post-C-31 (PDF)

Chart - Some key timelines in new refugee system (PDF)

Overview: Pre-December 15 cases after Refugee Reform (word document)

See materials at University of Ottawa Refugee Assistance Project

Cessation - Basic information

CIC information on Refugee Reform

CIC list of Designated Countries of Origin

CIC, Forms refugee claimants will need to fill in for eligibility

CIC, Information about making a refugee claim

CIC, List of CIC offices where a refugee claim can be made (with opening hours)

CIC, Operational Bulletin 440-G, Processing of Refugee Claims by CIC under the New Legislation

See also resources for CCR members

The Law:

For CCR members (you must be logged in):

Resources from December 12 webinar (including recording)

Resources from March 19 webinar - updates and RAD (including recording)

IRB powerpoint presentation at CCR Consultation, 28 November

CIC/CBSA powerpoint presentation at CCR Consultation, 28 November

For information about changes to H&C applications (already in effect), see webinar resources

Other resources:

CCR, Concerns about upcoming changes to the refugee determination system, December 2012

CLEO, Refugee Rights in Ontario: Information for front-line workers

One-page information sheet explaining risk for refugees of losing permanent residence through cessation, Downtown Legal Services - in English, French and Spanish

CBA Refugee Lawyers Conference Papers

Legal Aid Ontario consultation on services under refugee reform

Refugee Access to Justice Campaign (calling for legal aid for refugees in Ontario) 

BC Legal Services Society, Refugee Claim Flow Chart

Also of interest

The Experience of Refugee Claimants at Refugee Hearings at the Immigration and Refugee Board, CCR

Mental Health Systems in Refugee-Producing Countries, Settlement Orientation Services

If you know of other relevant resources that could be linked here, please send an email to

CCR comments on Bill C-31 while before Parliament

Media release, Canada Rolls Back Refugee Protection: Bill C-31 receives Royal Assent, 29 June 2012

Comments on amendments to Bill C-31, 16 May 2012

Bill C-31 - Diminishing Refugee Protection: Submission to Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration, 25 April 2012

Protecting Refugees from Bill C-31: Joint statement (Does your organization endorse this statement?)

Myths and Facts on Bill C-31, 21 March 2012

Media release, New bill further undermines refugees, 16 February 2012

Earlier relevant CCR resources

Video: Understanding Bill C-31 and Children in Detention

Myths and Facts 2011, February 2011

What’s in a number? The Hungarian claims, blog entry, 24 April 2010

Lives in the Balance, booklet, May 2009

RESOURCES from other organizations:

Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers, New Legislation Targets Canadian Permanent Residents, 17 February 2012

Other useful resources:

Letter on C-4 from Australian NGOs (Asylum Seeker Resource Centre, Refugee Council of Australia, International Detention Coalition, Human Rights Law Centre, Brigidine’s Asylum Seeker Project, Asylum Seeker Welcome Centre) 

Rachel Kronick et alMandatory detention of refugee children in Canada: A public health issue?, Paediatrics and Child Health, October 2011

Centre for Refugee Studies, Video stream of panel discussing Bill C-49, 12 November 2010