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Glossary

The brief explanations in this glossary give general information only. Terms can have different meanings in different situations. It is important to get legal advice about your own situation.



A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z

A

Abandoned refugee claim

The Refugee Protection Division of the Immigration and Refugee Board can decide, at a special hearing, that a refugee claimant has “abandoned” their claim. This means that the claimant loses the right to make their claim. This could happen if a claimant does not follow all the rules about making a refugee claim. For example, if they do not file their Basis of Claim Form on time, do not show up for a hearing, or do not contact the Board when asked to do so.



Admissibility hearing

A hearing before a member of the Immigration and Refugee Board to see if a person is “inadmissible” to Canada because they do not meet the rules of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. The Board member looks at the evidence and decides whether that person has the right to enter or stay in Canada, or should be forced to leave. For example, if a permanent resident has been found guilty and convicted of a crime that is serious under the Act, a Board member can make a removal order against them.



Appeal to the Refugee Appeal Division (RAD)

An appeal made to the Immigration and Refugee Board’s Refugee Appeal Division (RAD) from a decision made by the Refugee Protection Division (RPD). In most cases, there is no hearing and no new evidence is allowed. The RAD decides the appeal after reviewing the documents that are filed.



Application for leave

See Leave application

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B

Basis of Claim Form (BOC)

Every refugee claimant must fill out a Basis of Claim Form. In it they must say who they are, why they are afraid to return to their country, and what they did to try to get the authorities in their country to protect them.

The claimant must complete the BOC carefully and correctly. If information is missing, incorrect, or inconsistent, the Refugee Protection Division could refuse the claim.



Board member

A person whose job is to hear and decide cases at the Immigration and Refugee Board.

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C

Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA)

The federal government department that is responsible for border control, immigration investigations, detention, and removal of people who have been ordered to leave the country. The CBSA reports to the Minister of Public Safety.



Cessation order

The Immigration and Refugee Board makes a cessation order if it decides that a protected person no longer needs Canada’s protection. The Minister of Citizenship and Immigration can apply to the Board for a cessation order. The protected person has the right to a hearing and should get legal help. In some cases, a cessation order can lead to a protected person being forced to leave Canada.



Common-law partner

Someone of the same or opposite sex with whom a person has lived, for at least a year, in a conjugal (marriage-like) relationship. It also includes a conjugal partner if the couple could not live together because of legal restrictions, or because they would be persecuted.

For example, they might come from a country where their relationship is against the law or where they would be persecuted for it.



Conditional removal order

A removal order that comes into effect only if a refugee claim is refused. The order is made when a claim is referred to the Immigration and Refugee Board.



Conjugal partner

Someone of the same or opposite sex with whom a person has had a conjugal (marriage-like) relationship for at least a year. A conjugal relationship does not have to include living together. But if the couple could have lived together and chose not to, it can be difficult to convince Citizenship and Immigration Canada that the relationship is conjugal.



Conjugal relationship

A marriage-like relationship between two people who want to be together permanently as a couple. A conjugal relationship does not have to include living together. But if the couple could have lived together and chose not to, it can be difficult to convince Citizenship and Immigration Canada that the relationship is conjugal.

Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) decides if a relationship is conjugal based mainly on evidence of the couple’s commitment to a shared life.

CIC is supposed to respect cultural and individual differences in deciding if a relationship is conjugal.



Convention refugee

A person who is outside their country and is not able or not willing to return to it because of a well-founded fear of being persecuted based on:

  • race,
  • religion,
  • nationality,
  • political opinion, or
  • membership in a particular social group.


Country of former habitual residence

A country where someone lived for some time. It does not matter whether they had legal status in that country and it may not matter whether they have a right to return.

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D

Departure order

A departure order is a type of removal order. A person who is given a departure order must leave Canada within 30 days. They must get a “certificate of departure” from Citizenship and Immigration Canada when they are leaving. If they do not leave within 30 days or if they fail to get a certificate of departure, their departure order automatically becomes a deportation order.



Dependent child

A biological or adopted child who is dependent on their parent or parents because they are either:

  • under the age of 19 and not married or in a common-law relationship , or
  • 19 or older and financially dependent on their parents since before the age of 19 because of a physical or mental condition that prevents them from supporting themselves.


Deportation order

A deportation order is a type of removal order. A person who is deported cannot return to Canada without written permission from Citizenship and Immigration Canada.



Designated Countries of Origin (DCO)

These are countries whose citizens have fewer rights and different timelines when making refugee claims in Canada. Citizenship and Immigration Canada describes them as “countries generally considered safe”. The Minister of Citizenship and Immigration may add a country to the list of designated countries because:

  • the success rate of claims from that country is below a standard set by the Minister, or
  • there are few claims from that country and the Minister believes it is a country that generally respects human rights


Designated Foreign Nationals

Designated foreign nationals have fewer rights in the refugee protection system. They are members of a group of people who:

  • arrive in Canada together, and
  • are designated by the Minister of Public Safety as an “irregular arrival”.

This can happen, for example, if the Minister suspects that they have been brought to Canada through human smuggling or trafficking or with the help of a criminal organization or terrorist group.



Designated representative

Some people with cases at the Immigration and Refugee Board have the right to a designated representative. The designated representative’s job is to protect the person’s interests and help them understand the process and make decisions.

The Board will appoint a designated representative if the person is:

  • a child (someone under the age of 18), or
  • an adult who is unable to understand their refugee or immigration case enough to make their own decisions.


Detention review

A detention review is a hearing before a member of the Immigration Division of the Immigration and Refugee Board. The member looks at the reasons why a person has been detained and placed in custody by Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA).

At the review, a hearings officer says why the person was detained, and recommends either that they continue to be detained, or that they be released with conditions. The person who is detained can give evidence and say why they should be released. The member then decides whether to order that the person continue to be detained or that they be released on specific conditions.

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E

Exclusion order

An exclusion order is a type of removal order.

Most people who are excluded cannot return to Canada without written permission from Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) for a period of time.

This period of time will be either one year or two years after they leave Canada.

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F


Foreign national

Anyone who is not a Canadian citizen or permanent resident. For example, a refugee claimant, a visitor, or a person in Canada without any immigration status.

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H

Humanitarian & Compassionate (H&C) application

An application to Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) (formerly Citizenship and Immigration Canada or CIC) for permanent resident status on humanitarian and compassionate grounds.

Anything that makes others feel compassion and want to help can be the basis for a successful H&C application. For example, the hardship an applicant will face if they have to return to their home country is often a reason that is used.

And if there is a child who would be directly affected if the applicant had to return to their home country, this is an important factor. IRCC must consider what is in the child's best interests.

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I

Identity documents

Documents that can help prove that a person is who they say they are. The best identity document is a valid passport. Examples of other documents that can help prove identity are:

  • a birth certificate
  • a national identity card
  • a baptismal certificate
  • school records or diplomas

A statutory declaration by someone who knows the person can also help prove identity.



Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB)

The Immigration and Refugee Board has four divisions. They hear and decide the following kinds of cases:

  • The Immigration Division does admissibility hearings and detention reviews.
  • The Immigration Appeal Division (IAD) decides appeals from some immigration decisions, including appeals of deportation orders.
  • The Refugee Protection Division (RPD) decides when a person in Canada gets refugee status or loses it.
  • The Refugee Appeal Division (RAD) decides appeals from some RPD decisions.

The IRB is independent of Citizenship and Immigration Canada and Canada Border Services Agency.



Immigration Appeal Division

See Immigration and Refugee Board



Immigration Division

See Immigration and Refugee Board



Inadmissibility

The Immigration and Refugee Protection Act gives reasons why someone is “inadmissible”, or not allowed to enter or remain in Canada. The inadmissibility rules that apply to a person depend on the immigration status they are claiming. Reasons for inadmissibility can include:

  • security concerns
  • a criminal record
  • health issues
  • financial reasons


Inland claim

A refugee claim made from within Canada. The claim is made at a Citizenship and Immigration Canada office.



Internal flight alternative

To have their refugee claim accepted, one of the things a claimant must show is that they do not have an “internal flight alternative”. This means they must show that there is no place in their country that they could get to safely, where they would be free from the risk that they face, and where it would be reasonable to expect them to live.

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J

Judicial review

A review by the Federal Court of a final decision of the Immigration and Refugee Board or a federal official.

A judicial review is very limited in scope. The Court will not overturn a decision only because it disagrees with the decision.

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L

Leave application

A written application in which the applicant asks the Federal Court for "leave”, or permission, to apply for a judicial review of a decision. A Federal Court judge reads the arguments for and against doing a judicial review and decides if the applicant's case is strong enough to be argued in court. If the judge grants leave, the Court will hear and decide the judicial review application.

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M

Membership in a particular social group

A refugee claimant may fear being persecuted because of membership in a particular social group. A social group can be:

  • A group someone is part of because of something they cannot change. For example, their gender, sexual orientation, tribe, or relationship to a family member who is politically active.
  • A group they chose to be part of but cannot change now, because they belonged to it in the past. For example, having been a student at a certain school.
  • A group they chose to join out of deep conviction or principle. For example, a labour union or a human rights organization.

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P

Permanent resident

An immigrant or refugee who has been given the right to live permanently in Canada. A permanent resident is not a Canadian citizen. Permanent residents can be forced to leave Canada for reasons given in the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.



Person in need of protection

Someone who would likely face at least one of these risks if forced to return to their home country:

  • torture, or
  • in some cases, a risk to life or a risk of cruel and unusual treatment or punishment


Port-of-entry

A port of entry is a place where people can enter Canada. International airports, land border crossings and maritime ports are ports of entry.



Pre-removal risk assessment (PRRA)

A process that is supposed to review the risk a person would face if sent back to their country. An applicant who is successful becomes, in most cases, a protected person.



Procedural accommodations

When the Immigration and Refugee Board agrees to do things in a different way because it might help a vulnerable person at their hearing or with other Board processes. For example, allowing a support person to be at a hearing or creating a more informal setting for a hearing.



Protected person

Someone who:

  • is found by the Immigration and Refugee Board to be a Convention refugee or a person in need of protection
  • is accepted by a visa officer outside Canada for resettlement to Canada as someone who needs protection
  • is successful on a Pre-Removal Risk Assessment, unless they are inadmissible to Canada for certain reasons—for example, they are considered a security risk

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R

Refugee Appeal Division

See Immigration and Refugee Board



Refugee Protection Division

See Immigration and Refugee Board



Refugee protection hearing

A hearing before a member of the Refugee Protection Division of the Immigration and Refugee Board. The claimant gives evidence about their claim. After the hearing, the Board member accepts or refuses the claim.



Refugee claimant

Someone who has made a claim to be a Convention refugee or a person in need of protection.



Removal order

An order that says a person must leave Canada. There are three types of removal orders: departure orders, exclusion orders, and deportation orders.

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S

Safe Third Country rule

A rule that sometimes applies when a person makes a refugee claim at a land border crossing between Canada and the United States. The rule prevents them from having their claim heard in Canada. It is meant to stop people from choosing in which country to make their claim.

There are exceptions to the rule. For example, claimants with family members in Canada may be allowed to have their claims heard in Canada. But this depends on the claimant’s relationship to the family member and that person's status in Canada.



Social group

See Membership in a particular social group



Special hearing

A hearing at the Refugee Protection Division of the Immigration and Refugee Board to decide if a claim has been abandoned.



Spouse

A person to whom someone is legally married.



Stateless person

Someone who is not a citizen of any country. A stateless person can make a refugee claim based on fear of returning to their country of former habitual residence.



Statutory declaration

A written statement by a person who swears that the statement is true. They must sign it in front of someone with the power to witness the statement. For example, a lawyer, commissioner of oaths, or notary public.



Stay of removal

A temporary suspension of a removal order. This will stop removal for a certain period of time. A stay of removal will have terms and conditions. For example, a condition to report regularly to Canada Border Services Agency.

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V

Vacation order

The Immigration and Refugee Board makes a vacation order if it decides that a protected person got that status by “misrepresentation”. For example, if they said something that was not true or left out important information in their refugee claim. The Minister of Citizenship and Immigration can apply to the Board for a vacation order. The protected person has the right to a hearing and should get legal help. A vacation order can lead to a protected person being forced to leave Canada.



Vulnerable person

Someone who would have great difficulty presenting their case or have trouble with processes at the Immigration and Refugee Board. For example, a child, someone with mental health issues, or someone who has suffered severe trauma might be a vulnerable person. A vulnerable person can ask for “procedural accommodations” at the IRB.

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W

Withdrawn refugee claim

A refugee claimant can decide not to continue with their refugee claim. They can withdraw their claim by writing to the Refugee Protection Division before evidence is presented at their hearing to say that they do not want to continue with their claim. Once a claim has been withdrawn, the claimant has no right to make another claim. It is very difficult to reopen or reinstate a claim that was withdrawn.

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Last updated: Apr 27, 2016

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All taxonomy terms:

All taxonomy terms: Letters

All taxonomy terms: Forms

All taxonomy terms: Fees

All taxonomy terms: Timelines

All taxonomy terms: Inadmissibility

All taxonomy terms: Proof of identity

All taxonomy terms: Applying for OHIP

All taxonomy terms: Special hearings