1. You have only 1 chance in your whole life to make a Refugee Claim (don’t waste if you don’t have to).
2. If you make a refugee claim at a port of entry, then you have to prove personal persecution in Ukraine, [eg the FSB threatened you personally] (not merely general persecution) in the interview at the airport before a CBSA policeman, in 2 interviews:
– 1st in a room at the airport
– a 2d interview downtown where they interrogate/cross-examine you from about 9 am to 3 pm (I’ve sat in on those [ they are VERY ‘thorough’).
3. Making a Claim, triggers the time limit when you have to submit your Basis of Claim form (which is basically your entire Legal Argument to be presented at your Hearing [like a Trial] (so this is the most important document in your refugee case).The time limit before Covid was only 15 days (during Covid it was temporarily extended). It usually takes much longer than 15 days working with the Claimant to come up with a good Submission because the claimant does not understand the legal definition of “Convention Refugee” and does not understand how to make a legal argument.
4: You have to prove personal (not general) persecution in a Hearing before a quasi Judge – it usually takes about a year or more after one officially submits one’s claim to get this appointment for your Hearing.
There are basically 4 routes to becoming a Refugee in Canada:
1. Be designated by the UN Refugee Commission as one & be sponsored by the Cdn Govt.
2. Be designated by the UN Refugee Commission as one & be sponsored by Cdn Ngo or group of 5 or more citizens (takes no less than 3 years to process the Claim [the claimant remains in the Refugee Camp wherever they are [but outside the country of persecution] – and they still have to prove their claim at a Canadian embassy in the country where they have temporary residence.
If you are not a UN designated Convention Refugee and your life is in danger, then get to the Canada border however you can, by any means you can and
3. Make a Port of Entry Claim, or
4. Make an Inland Claim – (best option if at Entering Canada)
eg. arrive as a visitor (with permission to stay in Canada for 6 months legally). That will give you 6 months to do all the preparations necessary for your case to make a strong Refugee Claim. And give you time to find a good Refugee lawyer who will take your case (not just any lawyer). Once well prepared, one can make a claim from withing Canada to be accepted as a “Convention Refugee”. So Inland Claims give one the most time to find a lawyer and prepare one’s case well.
Ideally, Ukrainians would arrive by this Special Govt Visa for Ukrainiansand don’t have to go through all of this.
But, if somehow someone Does happen to arrive in Canada by some weird circumstance not under the now special Govt Visa, then they should ideally enter as a Visitor if they can
and then immediately alert me and we can see if they are able to make a refugee claim.
Then we can help them make a refugee claim that hopefully will be successful before the law.
Of course, if the CBSA Policeman at the airport refuse to let them into Canada as a Visitor
(because they find them suspicious, don’t believe they are tourists etc.) and they are about to be deported, then by all means make a Refugee Claim and immediately contact immigration lawyer for help. Just remember that this is 1 and only chance to make a Refugee Claim.
And this chance counts not just for Canada, but for the US, UK, Australia, and 2 other countries – meaning if they use their 1 chance here, they cannot apply in those other countries either.
If they have no funds and a case which qualifies them as a Convention Refugee, one can help them get a legal aid lawyer – but these may not be either good or have experience in Refugee law. For those low on funds, ideally, one would want to find them a good Refugee Lawyer who has time and is willing to take our case even for the low pay from Legal Aid BC.