A Refugee is defined in Canada under one of the following classes:

Convention Refugees Abroad:
  • you are outside your home country, or the country where you normally live
  • you cannot return to that country because of a well-founded fear of persecution based on: race, religion, political opinion, nationality or membership in a particular social group
Country of Asylum:
  • you are outside your home country or the country where you normally live
  • you have been, and continue to be, seriously and personally affected by civil war or armed conflict, or have suffered massive violations of human rights
  • you cannot find an adequate solution to your situation within a reasonable period of time.

The United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) has three possible durable solutions for refugees.

They are:

  • Voluntary Repatriation: when the refugee may return home in safety and dignity
  • Local Integration: when the refugee may remain in the country of asylum with permanent status and rights. To assess if Canada would consider a refugee to be locally integratedyou can use this tool
  • Resettlement to a Third Country: when the refugee is resettled as a permanent resident in a third country, such as Canada.

While many people become refugees, most are not referred for resettlement and additional criteria must be met.

For example, someone might be given refugee status because they are a member of a religious minority that is being targeted in their home country but they must also meet one of the seven resettlement categories to be designated ‘in need of resettlement’ by the UNHCR. Even once a refugee has met these requirements there are more people who need resettlement than resettlement spaces provided by countries worldwide.

The UNHCR identifies and refers refugees most in need of resettlement solely on the basis of need under one or more of seven general categories:

  1. Survivors of violence and/or torture
  2. Medical needs
  3. Women and girls at risk
  4. Family reunification
  5. Children and adolescents at risk
  6. Lack of foreseeable alternative durable solutions
  7. Legal and/or physical protection needs

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