An asylum seeker is a person who, upon arrival in the country or during a temporary stay, asks for protection from Canada because of fear of persecution based on his/her race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group (ex. LGBTQ+) or political opinion, or threat for his/her life if he/she returns to his/her country. The Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRBC) evaluates each case to determine if an individual is eligible to make a refugee claim.
Most asylum seekers make a refugee claim at official Ports of Entry (airports, in-land office (CBSA or IRCC)). However, it is important to note that under Canadian and international law, it is not illegal to cross the canadian border between designated ports of entry or without pre-authorization when trying to reach an asylum country (source : United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees).
- People who want to apply for refugee status, but have not yet approached immigration authorities
- Asylum seekers;
- People in the process of refugee status application;
- Asylum seekers turned down by the IRBC:
- Preparing for their voluntary departure or removal from Canada;
- Undergoing a Federal Court judicial review;
- Applying for a PRRA (pre-removal risk assessment) with the IRBC;
- Applying for permanent residency on humanitarian grounds;
- From a country under moratorium (indefinite suspension of their removal);
- People other than asylum seekers in the process of regularizing their status by applying for a PRRA or permanent residency on humanitarian grounds;
- Unaccompanied minors.
Asylum seekers have access, if eligible, to social assistance, legal aid as well as temporary and limited health coverage, through the Interim Federal Health Program (IFHP) . The IFHP covers basic healthcare and emergencies. Unlike refugees, asylum seekers are not covered by the RAMQ. In addition, they must apply for a permit to work and study (paying the same tuition as foreign students, with the exception of 18 year olds and under, who have access to free public education). Asylum seekers do not have access to subsidized daycare nor family allowance.
Children with special needs
Following families who have one or more children with special needs: intellectual disability, physical and/or motor disability, developmental delay, learning difficulty, etc.
PRAIDA has a regional mandate to help unaccompanied minors. Upon their arrival to Quebec, they have their needs assessed immediately and they are followed by a social worker (navigator), who assists with their social integration. A designated representative is also assigned to take charge of their immigration case.
In some cases, the Immigration and Refugee Board asks PRAIDA to act as their designated representative. The designated representative looks out for the interests of unaccompanied minors or people unable to understand the immigration procedures. At PRAIDA, the designated representative is a social worker supported by a multidisciplinary team.
The designated representative informs and consults the minor or person who is unable to understand the procedure when decisions have to be made in their case.
Foster families (familles d’entraide)
Foster families are generally known to unaccompanied minors (UMIs) and are part of their extended families already settled in Montreal or elsewhere in Canada . The difference between familles d’entraide and regular foster families (famille d'accueil) is generally their ethnocultural group, the way they are recruited, type of assessment and amount of financial support. PRAIDA’s role is to systematically assess the family’s ability to care for the unaccompanied minor.