As expected by most immigration practitioners, the number of refugee claims made at the Canada-US border has dropped significantly. The Canada–U.S. Safe Third Country Agreement came into effect on December 29, 2004, and statistics from CIC’s website indicate a significant decrease of 40 per cent drop in refugee claims since the inception of the Agreement. The Agreement requires an individual who lands in either country to make a claim in that country and does not allow the individual to proceed to the border to attempt to claim in the other country. There are limited exceptions to the Agreement. CIC is also reporting a substantial decrease in refugee claims at other ports of entry (mainly at the airport) that is not covered by the Agreement. There are a number of valid criticisms of that agreement found here and here).
Canada’s refugee and asylum history has displayed “refugee trends” that shift and change depending on CIC’s current policies and of course eco-political realities of their home countries. In the past, a number of Central American (El Salvador, Nicaragua) and South America (Peru) countries were major refugee source countries for Canada until political stabilization and a restoration of law and order occurred in those countries.
Until recently, Venezuelan nationals– claiming persecution from pro-Chavez groups or the Chavez government formed a substantial number of refugee claimants in Canada.
While both countries claim that they recognize the importance of providing effective protection for refugees fleeing protection, in all likelihood, the reality is that both countries want to limit the number of refugees claiming protection in their countries.
Along with the decrease of refugee claims, a number of immigration practitioners have commented on the decreased acceptance rate of refugee claims. While no statistics are readily available, anecdotal evidence indicates that the Calgary Immigration and Refugee Board’s acceptance rates are below 25%.
Failed refugee claimants are advised to seek legal advice immediately upon receipt of a negative determination. A failed refugee claimant has only 15 days to appeal a negative decision to the Federal Court of Canada. Other options a failed refugee claimant has besides an appeal to the Federal Court include a PRRA application (Pre-Removal Risk Assessment), and an H&C application (“Humanitarian and Compassionate” - an Application pursuant to s.25 of IRPA).