Honesty about Coming to Canada as a Refugee

Coming to Canada can sometimes be promised as an easy and quick solution for refugees. We have to be honest with you, it is not. Whether you are refugee staying in a country away from Canada and applying to come here, or if you are already in Canada and applying for asylum, then we can guarantee it is going to take considerable effort, time, and lots of waiting. We recommend that you read the following page and learn about some common questions before applying to come to Canada as a refugee, or applying for asylum within Canada.

How long will the process take?

It is best to check with the IRCC website on wait times for applicants. It can be found here:


Minimally, if you have applied for asylum in Canada, expect to wait for your hearing for 2 or more years.

If you are applying outside Canada for private sponsorship, then you are recommended to do what you can to remain safe wherever you are and to support yourself for as many as 5 years.

In either case, it is rare for sponsorships to be quick.

As you go through the government form completion and approval process, every field and character in your application matters. Any errors, incompletions, or inconsistencies risks rejection of your claim, or minimally slowing the process by months.

Am I guaranteed to be approved to get into, or stay in, Canada?

Absolutely not. You must collect all of your information about your case, submit all of the necessary government forms, and meet all the necessary Government of Canada requirements. Only then will your file be reviewed. Once it is reviewed, then you are not guaranteed to be approved.

For people trying to get into Canada, or stay in Canada without proof of refugee status regarding your case, then you are best to apply through other means, such as the Express Entry program.

Your credibility about your case is paramount and critical to having your case approved. Read more about credibility here: https://irb.gc.ca/en/legal-policy/legal-concepts/Pages/Credib.aspx

If you apply with false evidence, or are not seen as credible, then expect to be rejected. For LGBTQ+ applicants, if you are faking being LGBTQ+ because you think it is an easy way in, then expect to be rejected, permanently.

To apply as a refugee to come to Canada, you too will have to write your story and show a credible claim. It is important to remember that you must apply once you are outside your country of origin.

What do I need to do to apply?

If you are outside your country of origin and not in Canada, and applying with a private sponsorship group, then you will need to have a sponsorship group or Sponsorship Agreement Holder submit your application. It is best to start by reviewing IRCC’s website to see if you are eligible: https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/services/refugees/help-outside-canada.html

If you are applying for refugee asylum from within Canada, then you will have to submit an application. It is best to do this with advice from a lawyer. We recommend to review applying and do it as quickly as possible. Review the following pages: https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/services/refugees/claim-protection-inside-canada.html

Am I applying for asylum from within Canada, can I work and get support from the governments?

No, expect to support yourself for months and sometimes years. As a refugee claimant, you will first be recognized only as a visitor or temporary resident before you apply. This is the period from when you arrive, to when you submit a refugee application, and to then receiving confirmation of your application. During this time you cannot work or get any support from the government. After you apply, you will receive your “brown papers” or the Refugee Protection Claimant Document. From the time you arrive to when you receive this document, it may take weeks or months. This document allows you to then apply for a work permit and Social Insurance Number. This can take additional months to obtain. Only after you receive this are you able to work legally in Canada. The total process for some people has taken a year or more.

Your work permit and Refugee Protection Claimant Document may allow you to apply for limited services, but expect that you will not receive services. You are not eligible for settlement services, language classes (CLARC language assessments or LINC classes), provincial health services, and many other services. You may also not be eligible for income support, and if you do, then you will be expected to be looking work; any hint that you are not looking for work may guarantee that income support is declined.

Because you are “not eligible,” expect to have many government and social organizations to decline services to you. Expect to support yourself with no government support for many months and in some cases many years, especially if you apply as a humanitarian case.

I want to apply because I am being discriminated in my country, will this be enough?

No. As horrible as it may be to be the target of discrimination, is does not guarantee you acceptance as a refugee. For the probability of being accepted by the Immigration and Review Board, see the following statistics https://irb.gc.ca/en/legal-policy/legal-concepts/Pages/RefDef08.aspx.

Discrimination is different from persecution. It is important that you understand that mere discrimination is not enough to be considered a refugee. You will be reviewed using a higher standard, which you can read about here: https://irb.gc.ca/en/legal-policy/legal-concepts/Pages/RefDef03.aspx

Applicants from the United States. If you are from the US and the target of discrimination, then applying as a refugee is a 100% probability that you will be rejected. For example, in 2022 no refugee applicant from the US was accepted in Canada. We recommend you move to a different part of the US where you are safer. If you still wish to come to Canada, then try the other ways to come to Canada, such as through the Express Entry Program.

I am a professional, have skills Canada needs, so can I easily work once I am approved?

No. If you are trained as a professional that is regulated in any province in Canada, then you cannot immediately work in your profession. We have to be honest with you – you should expect that your qualifications will not be recognized anywhere in Canada. Expect to work in low paying entry level jobs to get Canadian work experience. It is very common for doctors, nurses, lawyers, engineers, and other professionals to work in service jobs or other unrelated jobs simply to support themselves. We also have to be honest with you about “Canadian experience” – it is common to feel discriminated against when you try to work in Canada without Canadian training or experience.

The road to working in your trained profession will take many months and usually years, and cost considerable sums of money. For your qualifications to be recognized in Canada, you very likely will need to be retrained, even if you were trained by “American” teachers and schools in your home country. We recommend that you consult with your prospective provincial professional body and get assessed for your skills to start the process. You can also see the following page to start the process: https://www.alberta.ca/foreign-qualification-recognition.aspx/

Is it easy to find a place to live?

Again no. Do not expect living expenses in Canada to be cheap, it is not. Canada has a housing crisis in its large cities and housing costs if you can find a place to live are very expensive. Unfortunately, the homeless population in Canadian cities are becoming large and this too is a crisis. Toronto and Vancouver are the most expensive places to live and have large homeless populations. Do not fool yourself to want to go to these cities if you are worried about money; go elsewhere in Canada for cheaper and easier places to live and find a home. We recommend that you search places in Canada before you arrive. For example, a listing of rental costs in Canada can be found here: https://www.zumper.com/blog/rental-price-data-canada/

Provincial income support programs do not even come close to paying for rent in the large Canadian cities. Again, expect to support yourself immediately upon your arrival and it will not be cheap. Not planning before you arrive places you at risk to be a homeless statistic.

If you have more questions, then the End of the Rainbow Foundation can answer them for you. Email: info@endoftherainbow.ca