Refugee Rights in Canada

Just because you are a refugee in Canada doesn't mean you can't claim your rights. In this post, our Ottawa and Orleans physicians discuss some of the fundamental rights of every person living in Canada including refugees.


If you are recognized as a refugee in Canada, you cannot be deported to your country of origin. Canada has also decided not to deport people to certain countries that it considers to be too dangerous. You will not be deported if your asylum claim is denied and you are a citizen of one of these countries. This list is regularly updated, and it is recommended that you consult this site for the most up-to-date information.


People who enter Canada without a visa or without passing through an official border crossing point may face a fine. However, this penalty does not apply to people who are found to be refugees after their case is reviewed in Canada.

Protection and Asylum

Canada is a signatory to the Geneva Convention and recognizes individuals' right to seek asylum. The government has established a system for assessing and deciding on asylum applications.

Further, according to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, anyone whose life is threatened in their home country has the right to seek protection and asylum.


We all have the right to live in an environment free of discrimination, regardless of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or any other attribute.

The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees individuals in Canada:
  • Freedom of religion, of thought, of expression, of the press and of peaceful assembly
  • The right to participate in political activities and the right to a democratic government
  • The freedom to move around and live within Canada, and to leave Canada
  • Legal rights such as the right to life, liberty and security
  • Equality rights
  • Language rights

Banking Services

Refugees and asylum seekers have equal access to public and private banking services as any other Canadian. To put it another way, you can open a bank account, transfer funds, and use all of the other banking services.


As a refugee, you have the same right to healthcare as everyone else under the Interim Federal Health Program. As soon as you are determined to be eligible to make an asylum claim in Canada, you will automatically receive this coverage and proof of enrollment in the program.


You have the right to work in Canada, but you do need to apply for a work permit. You can visit this website for more information.


All refugees in Canada have the same rights to education as all Canadians.

Freedom of Movement

You have the right to move freely across national territory and to live wherever you want. Refugees have the right to apply for a Refugee Travel Document, which allows them to travel outside Canada except for their country of origin. If you return to your country of origin, it may be determined that you no longer face persecution, which could result in you losing your refugee status. If you are considering returning to your country of origin, you should consult with a lawyer.

Residence and Citizenship

If your asylum application is granted and you are recognized as a refugee, you have the right to apply for permanent residence in Canada as soon as you receive your decision. You may include your dependent children and spouse in this application for permanent residence, whether or not they are currently in Canada.

Before applying for citizenship, a refugee must have obtained permanent residence and been physically present in Canada as a permanent resident for three out of the last five years, with no minimum number of days per year. Days spent in Canada before becoming a permanent resident (as a temporary resident or as a protected person) within 5 years of applying for citizenship count as 12 days, up to a maximum of 1 year (365 days).

At Immigration Physician Ottawa, we can provide medical examinations and certifications to assist you with the application process for residency as well as advice on medical treatment options in this country. To learn more, please contact us today.


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