The Canadian Council for Refugees to Challenge Cessation in the Courts

Press release

8 April 2024

The Canadian Council for Refugees to Challenge Cessation in the Courts

The Canadian Council for Refugees will appear before the Federal Court today to challenge the rules on loss of status for refugees, as a public interest party in the Gnanapragasam case.

In 2012 the Canadian government changed the rules so that permanent residents who originally came as refugees could lose their permanent residence as well as their refugee status and  if they returned to their country of origin, even for urgent family reasons such as visiting a dying relative. This rule applies no matter how long someone has lived in Canada after being recognized as a refugee, and has created a ‘second class’ of permanent residents.

“A decision to strip permanent resident and refugee status has massive negative impacts on affected refugees and their families,” said Gauri Sreenivasan, Co-Executive Director of the Canadian Council for Refugees. “It can mean separation from family –even if all their family is in Canada–, and deportation to a country they have not lived in for years or even decades. It’s unconscionable.”

Starting on Monday, April 8th at 1pm, the Federal Court in Toronto will hear a legal challenge to the cessation regime and the 2012 automatic loss of permanent residence rule.

The CCR is arguing that the cessation provisions in the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act since 2012 violate the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, specifically: Section 7 (right to life, liberty and security of the person), Section 12 (protection against cruel and unusual treatment), Section 15 (non-discrimination), and Section 2(d) (freedom of association).

The Canadian Council for Refugees is a public interest party in this matter, represented by Prasanna Balasundaram and Asiya Hirji from the University of Toronto’s Downtown Legal Services.
The proceedings before the court are open to the public.  

Key facts about cessation:

  • Changes to the law relating to cessation introduced in 2012 lead to refugees who have done nothing wrong being unfairly stripped of their permanent residence and threatened with deportation.

  • Many of those affected have lived and worked in Canada for years, or even decades. They often have Canadian spouses and children, or other family members here.

  • Their “offense” is having returned to the country they fled, for example to visit a dying relative.

  • Canada’s policy of stripping status from people following cessation is out of sync with the position of the UNHCR and other countries (such as USA, Australia, New Zealand, the EU).

  • The case in which the CCR is a public interest party is IMM-8432-22 Jude Upali Gnanapragasam et al. v. MCI et al.


Tanja Maleska, Co-Executive Director, Canadian Council for Refugees. 514-549-8244,

About the Canadian Council for Refugees (CCR)

The Canadian Council for Refugees is a leading voice for the rights, protection, sponsorship, settlement, and well-being of refugees and migrants, in Canada and globally. Founded in 1978, the CCR is driven by over 200 member organizations working with, from and for these communities from coast to coast to coast.

Committed to social justice and transformation by challenging racism, colonialism and intersecting oppressions, we undertake policy monitoring, advocacy, network building, and public education to empower members and communities to bring about systemic change.