Getting a study or work permit in Canada while applying for refugee status.

As an asylum seeker in Canada, you may be looking for ways to support yourself and your family while you wait for a decision on your refugee claim. One option that may be available to you is applying for a work or study permit. In this article, we’ll provide an overview of the process for obtaining a work or study permit, including who is eligible, how to apply, and what to do if your permit is expiring. By understanding these options, you can take steps to help support yourself and your family while you wait for a decision on your refugee claim.

Canada’s asylum process has been overwhelmed by a high number of people seeking refuge in the country. Recently, the end of COVID-19 border restrictions led to a spike in refugee claims, causing significant delays in the early stages of the claim process. As a result, asylum seekers are experiencing delays in obtaining work permits, which is preventing them from finding employment and supporting themselves financially. This is also putting extra strain on provincial and territorial social assistance programs and other support systems.

As of November 16, 2022, work permits for asylum claimants will be processed once they are eligible and before they are referred to the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) Canada for a decision on their refugee claim. To issue a work permit, claimants must share all required documents in the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) or the Canadian Refugee Protection Portal, have a medical exam completed, and share biometrics. This allows claimants to begin working before a decision is made on their refugee claim by the IRB.

Who can get a work permit?

Your family members and you may be eligible to get work permits if you have made a refugee claim and 1) need a job to pay for necessities such as shelter, clothing, or food, and 2) the family members wanting permits are in Canada, applying for refugee status, and plan to get a job as well.

How can you apply for a work permit?

You can apply for a work permit simultaneously when submitting your refugee claim. You do not need to apply separately or pay other fees. The permit will be given after your medical exam is complete and if the refugee claim is found to be eligible and referred to the IRB.

If a refugee claim is submitted without requesting a work permit at that time, you can apply for the permit separately. You need to provide a copy of the Refugee Protection Claimant Document and evidence of a completed medical exam, need for a job to pay for necessities (shelter, clothing, food) and proof that the family members wanting permits are in Canada with you.

Who can get a study permit?

Children under the age of majority (18 in some provinces, 19 in other provinces (e.g., British Columbia) are considered minor children and do not need a study permit to attend school. If over the age of majority, a study permit allows you to attend school while waiting for a refugee claim decision. You require a designated learning institution (DLI) to give you an acceptance letter to get a study permit. A DLI is an institution approved by the government to host international students.

How can you apply for a study permit?

You can apply online for a study permit. Unlike a work permit, you cannot apply for a study permit simultaneously when submitting a refugee claim. You must apply separately for a study permit.

What if my study or work permit is expiring?

If you already have a work or study permit, you can apply to extend it before it expires. To prove you can still study or work, you must show evidence of having applied for an extension, receipt that you have paid the application fees, and confirmation that your application was sent and delivered prior to your permit expiring. If your permit has expired, you must apply again and stop studying or working while a decision is being made.

What is the main takeaway?

As an asylum seeker in Canada, it can be challenging to support yourself financially while waiting for a decision on your refugee claim. However, by understanding the options available to you, such as applying for a work or study permit, you can take steps to help support yourself and your family while you wait for a decision on your claim.

Please contact us at Pax Law to help you throughout this process. There are many immigration pathways to Canada and our professionals can help you understand your options and make informed decisions about your situation.

This blog post is for informational purposes only. Please consult a professional for advice.



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