Political asylum refugee claim from Uzbekistan - success

Foreign citizens fearing abuse or imprisonment in their home country may seek refuge in Canada. Individuals who are recognized as refugees by the Canadian immigration authorities can eventually be granted permanent residency and the consequent right to apply to become citizens of Canada.

Claiming refugee status in Canada

Canadian refugee status can be claimed by any individual who satisfies the internationally-accepted refugee definition introduced by the 1951 Geneva Convention. The agreement defines refuge as someone who:

  • Is currently outside of their country of origin; and
  • cannot return to their country of origin due to a justifiable fear of prosecution on the basis of either race, religion, political opinion, nationality, or being part of a certain social group.

The individual will need to proivde evidence of the fact that their return to their home country may lead to them being subject to torture, cruel and unusual treatment or punishment, or death.

Even though the Canadian Immigration and Refugee Protection Act states that all individuals with a well-founded fear of persecution are regarded as refugees, not all will be eligible to apply for asylum in Canada. An individual cannot be granted refugee status if they:

  1. Had been awarded refugee status in another country.
  2. Had been convicted of a serious felony or violation of human rights.
  3. Had a previous refugee claim rejected by the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB).
  4. Had withdrawn an earlier refugee claim.
  5. Had a removal order from Canada placed upon them.

The process of acquiring political refugee status will depend on the time and location where you make your claim. Applicants can either:

  • email the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) directly and start their claim online;
  • visit a physical office of the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) or an IRCC office;
  • make their claim in person at a port of entry — or "POA" (an airport, a seaport, or border station).

Sending a refugee claim via email will result in the IRCC opening a secure online account through which they will communicate with you and discuss the ins and outs of your case.

Those applying for asylum at a POA will have all required paperwork given to them by border patrol.

How to ask for political asylum in Canada

The terms “political refugee”, “economic refugee”, or “environmental refugee” have no meaning in law: there are no different categories of refugees. Asylum-seekers prosecuted for their political activity will need to file the same application package as all other applicants for refugee status.

Once you’ve filled the required paperwork either at a port of entry, in person at an IRCC office, or online, the immigration officers will provide you with an Acknowledgement of Claim Letter, instruct you on getting your immigration medical test, and schedule you for an in-person interview

During the interview, immigration authorities will review your case and access your eligibility. If you’re found eligible, you will be granted a Confirmation of Referral Letter and a Basis of Claim Form. The Basis of Claim Form has

to be presented to the Refugee Protection Division (RPD) no more than 15 days after the interview.

Defending your status as a political refugee:
the case of Canada v. Ibragimov

The 2019 case of Damir Ibragimov, an Uzbekistani citizen who was granted asylum in Canada, versus the Minister of the IRCC sets an important precedent: even granting the claimant refugee status had been unjustified, the revocation of his status and his subsequent return to his home country would have subjected him to the danger of violence and prosecution, thus justifying his status once more.

Mr.Ibragimov filed his original claim for refugee status in 2015, fearing prosecution for his political opinion in Uzbekistan. The RPD denied that claim due to insufficient evidence. Mr.Ibragimov successfully appealed the RPD’s decision with the Refugee Appeal Division and was subsequently taken to court by the Minister of the IRCC, who claimed that the Refugee Appeal Division “engaged in impermissible speculation” when reinstating Mr.Ibragimov’s refugee status.

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Mr.Ibragimov won the case: the IRCC’s application was dismissed by the Federal Court. The court found that the revocation of Mr.Ibragimov’s status would have consequences so severe that they would justify claiming refugee status all over again. Here’s why:

  • The Uzbekistan authorities have been known to prosecute individuals that have petitioned for refugee protection in other countries.
  • As of the date of the court case, Mr.Ibragimov’s original Uzbekistan exit visa has expired for three years. Uzbekistani authorities punish citizens for staying outside the country beyond the period of time authorized in an exit visa. Punishments include fines of up to one hundred minimum monthly wages or prison sentences of up to five years.
  • The Uzbekistani prison system has shown to disregard and disrespect fundamental human rights. The provided documentary evidence demonstrated an abundance of violations, including the mistreatment and abuse of prisoners, disregard of the rule of law, fair trials, and representation.

All of the aforementioned conditions would have made Mr.Ibragimov “unable to come back to his country of origin owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted” (a line taken out of the Geneva Convention refugee definition) thus solidifying his case.

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