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Asylum seekers in Québec

Over the last few months, Québec has seen an increase in the number of asylum claims made in its territory. Most of these claims are being made by foreign nationals who have been intercepted by Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) officers during irregular crossings of the United States-Québec border.

Statistics

December 12, 2017

The content of this page is updated regularly.

  • On December 11, 2017, 39 new asylum seekers were provided with accommodation.
  • 864 asylum seekers are being temporarily housed in the Greater Montreal area as at December 12, 2017.
  • As at November 12, 2017, 7,851 asylum seekers waiting for their claims to be processed by the federal government got help to find permanent accommodation for them and their families through MIDI’s partner community organizations or independently.
  • 20,236 asylum claims made in Québec were processed by the federal government between January 1st and November 13, 2017.
  • • As at November 13, 2017, the top 5 birth countries of asylum seekers in Québec are Haiti, Nigeria, the United States, Saudi Arabia and India.
  • 41,355 asylum claims were made in Canada, of which 20,390 were made in Québec (49.3%), from January 1st to October 31, 2017. In comparison, 23,895 asylum claims were made in Canada in 2016, of which 5,505 were made in Québec.

 

What you need to know about asylum seekers in Québec

An asylum seeker is someone who, upon entering a country or during a temporary stay, requests protection in Canada. A distinction can be made between asylum seekers and refugees. A refugee is someone who has been granted asylum and who is arriving in the country as a permanent resident or who can obtain this status while in the territory, after having requested and received asylum.

The federal government is solely responsible for border control and processing asylum claims.

For its part, the Québec government provides essential services to persons awaiting a decision on their refugee claim by the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada. With the assistance of several organizations and the various government ministries involved, asylum seekers can access the following services:

  • last resort financial assistance, under the responsibility of the Ministère du Travail, de l’Emploi et de la Solidarité sociale (MTESS);
  • temporary accommodation, under the responsibility of the Ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux (MSSS);
  • permanent accommodation, under the responsibility of the Ministère de l’Immigration, de la Diversité et de l’Inclusion (MIDI);
  • healthcare, under the responsibility of the Ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux (MSSS);
  • French courses, under the responsibility of MIDI;
  • access to school, under the responsibility of the Ministère de l’Éducation et de l’Enseignement supérieur (MEES).

 

Questions and answers – Asylum seekers

What is an asylum seeker?

An asylum seeker is a person who, upon arrival in the country or during a temporary stay, requests protection from Canada. Under the United Nations’ Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, Canada grants asylum to certain people on its territory who fear persecution or whose lives would be in danger if they were to return to their country of origin. Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Board evaluates each application and renders its decision on whether or not to grant refugee status.

What is a refugee?

  • A refugee is a person who receives protection from Canada. Refugees selected abroad are admitted to Québec, some after having spent many years in a refugee camp, others because they were persecuted in their own country. Upon arrival, they either receive assistance from the State, in partnership with non-governmental organizations, or by a group or organization that has agreed to sponsor them.
  • Refugees recognized in Canada are admitted to Québec after their refugee status has been recognized by the Immigration and Refugee Board or after submitting an asylum application upon their arrival in Canada.

What is a person without legal status?

Under Canadian laws, every person must obtain authorization to enter Canada (students, tourists, temporary workers, etc.) and must maintain the status granted them. Therefore, a person without legal status can be:

  • a tourist or temporary resident who has not renewed his/her tourist visa or study permit, or whose work permit has expired, and who has not left Canada;
  • a person whose asylum application has been refused, who has exhausted all possible recourse and who has not obeyed a removal order;
  • a person who has illegally crossed the border and has not reported to the authorities.

What are the steps involved in the asylum application process?

Upon arrival, people who enter Québec irregularly are subjected to tests and audits (identity, health and security) by the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA). Following these tests,  these people are directed to temporary shelters. The Québec government is committed to providing essential services to asylum seekers provided that their request is deemed admissible and up until the time Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) has rendered its decision on whether or not to grant refugee status. If the IRB recognizes their refugee status, Québec issues a Certificat de sélection du Québec.

To find out more about the steps involved in the asylum application process, consult this page.

What are the responsibilities of the federal government?

The federal government has sole responsibility for managing its borders and all designated resources. It also assumes full responsibility for rendering decisions regarding the admissibility of asylum applications and whether or not to grant refugee status.

Specifically, when asylum seekers enter the territory, the federal government carries out tests and audits regarding identity, health and security. If an application is deemed admissible, the federal government is responsible for issuing a work permit and a temporary social insurance number. The Interim Federal Health Program also funds the healthcare services needed by asylum seekers while waiting for the Immigration Refugee Board to recognize or deny their refugee status.

What are the responsibilities of the Québec government?

The Québec government is committed to welcoming asylum seekers in a dignified and safe manner. To achieve this goal, it provides essential services to asylum seekers while waiting for the Immigration and Refugee Board to render its decision on whether or not to grant refugee status.

The ministries involved ensure that the needs of asylum seekers are met in terms of temporary accommodation, assistance in finding permanent housing, healthcare and social services (funded by the Interim Federal Health Program), francization, education and last-resort financial assistance.

Do all asylum seekers who cross the border automatically come to Québec?

While Québec is currently a major entry point to Canada for asylum seekers, many then go on to other provinces, particularly Ontario.

Who are they? Where do they come from?

The asylum seekers who arrived in Québec in recent months are primarily of Haitian, Nigerian, Indian, Colombian and Mexican origin.

What services does the Québec government offer asylum seekers?

Asylum seekers can receive various services from the ministries involved and their partner organizations:

  • temporary accommodation, under the responsibility of the Ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux (MSSS);
  • assistance in finding permanent housing, under the responsibility of the Ministère de l’Immigration, de la Diversité et de l’Inclusion (MIDI);
  • health and social services, funded by the Federal Interim Health Program, under the responsibility of the Ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux (MSSS);
  • part-time French courses, under the responsibility of MIDI;
  • access to school, under the responsibility of the Ministère de l’Éducation et de l’Enseignement supérieur (MEES);
  • last-resort financial assistance, under the responsibility of the Ministère du Travail, de l’Emploi et de la Solidarité sociale (MTESS).

How long do asylum seekers have to wait for a response?

Federal authorities are solely responsible for application processing times. You can consult federal timeframes on this page.

Do all asylum seekers remain in the country?

The decision rests with the federal government and the Immigration and Refugee Board. Acceptance rates vary according to various factors. To find out about acceptance rates, you can consult the Government of Canada’s website on this page.

Why do asylum seekers enter irregularly instead of going through a border crossing?

Under the Safe Third Country Agreement, asylum seekers must submit their application in the first safe country they arrive in. Therefore, asylum seekers who arrive in Canada from the United States are entering irregularly in order to submit a claim for refugee protection in Canada.

For more information on this subject, consult this page on the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada website.

Is it possible to consult up-to-date data on the arrival of asylum seekers and temporary accommodation?

To get the latest statistics regarding the situation of asylum seekers in Québec, consult this page.

Are asylum seekers given priority processing of their immigration application to the detriment of other immigration categories?

No, asylum applications are processed in parallel with immigration applications as set out in Québec Immigration Planning for the 2017-2019 Period (PDF, 1,2 Mb).

The processing of asylum applications and the processing of applications in other immigration categories (economic immigration, for example) are two separate processes that are carried out in parallel. Note that the federal government, specifically the Immigration and Refugee Board, is responsible for processing asylum applications.

 

Links

For more information on the asylum seekers or immigration procedures for asylum seekers, consult:

   
 
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Last modification : 2017-12-12
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