Academic journal article Refuge

Permanent Protection: Why Canada Should Grant Permanent Residence Automatically to Recognized Refugees

Academic journal article Refuge

Permanent Protection: Why Canada Should Grant Permanent Residence Automatically to Recognized Refugees

Article excerpt


In order to achieve secure status in Canada, asylum seekers must go through a lengthy, three-stage procedure involving (1) eligibility determination, (2) refugee status determination, and (3) application for permanent residence. Applicants are screened for security and criminality at both the first and third stages. During the third stage, which can take upwards of eighteen months, refugees find themselves in "legal limbo": as recognized refugees they have the right to remain in Canada, but beyond that their rights are significantly curtailed.

The author argues that the repeat screening at the permanent resident stage is unnecessary and redundant, and that the resulting delay in access to basic rights violates Canada's international obligations. The article concludes with a proposal that permanent resident status be granted automatically to refugees upon recognition as refugees.


Pour obtenir un statut sur au Canada, les demandeurs d'asile doivent se soumettre a un long processus de selection, comprenant (1) la determination d'eligibilite, (2) la determination du statut de refugie, et (3) la soumission d'une demande pour le statut de resident permanent. Les candidats subissent une procedure de selection sur dossier axee sur des considerations de securite et de criminalite a la premiere drape et, de nouveau, a la troisieme etape. Durant la troisieme drape, qui peut prendre jusqu'a 18 mois, les refugies se retrouvent dans un etat juridique indetermine: en rant que refugie reconnu, ils ont le droit de rester au Canada; mais raise a part ce fait, leurs droits sont sensiblement restreints. L'auteur soutient que l'examen au peigne fin une nouvelle fois, au stade de resident permanent, est superflu et redondant, et que le delai a l'acces aux droits fondamentaux qui en decoule fait que le Canada enfreint ses obligations internationales. L'article conclut avec une recommandation que le statut de resident permanent soit automatiquement octroye aux refugies des l'instant oh ils sont reconnus comme refugies.


In 2003, the Government of Canada selected 7,505 women, men, and children seeking asylum from persecution and brought them to Canada from overseas. Churches and other private groups sponsored a further 3,247 refugees, while 11,250 refugees who claimed protection after coming to Canada on their own were granted permanent residence in 2003, along with 3,958 of their dependants overseas. (1)

For those refugees brought to Canada by the government or sponsoring groups, arrival at the border generally marks the end of a long road. Upon arrival they are granted permanent resident status and can apply for Canadian citizenship three years later. For those who make it to Canada on their own and seek asylum at the border or within the country, however, arrival in Canada marks the beginning of a whole new ordeal.

Canada's refugee program is rooted in international law. The individual right to asylum is enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), which states: "Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution." (2) The 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees (3) and its 1967 Protocol (4) give content to the right guaranteed by the UDHR, by setting out the obligations of states with respect to asylum seekers. States that have become parties to the Convention are bound by Article 33 not to expel or return ("refouler") a refugee "to the frontiers of territories where his life or freedom would be threatened on account of his race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion." (5) The prohibition on refoulement specifically to torture is also provided for in Article 3 of the 1984 Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, (6) and Article 7 of the 1966 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. …

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