Loss of Refugee Status

The law surrounding the loss of protected person status changed significantly with the passage of the “Protecting Canada’s Immigration System Act” in December 2012.

A protected person could face loss of their status through vacation if the status was originally obtained by misrepresenting or withholding material facts. Even under the previous legislation, vacation of protected person status also led to automatic loss of permanent resident status with no appeal to the Immigration Appeal Division. An individual could even face revocation of citizenship on the same grounds that led to a vacation finding, as their permanent residence would presumably have been obtained by misrepresenting or withholding material facts.

A refugee or protected person could face loss of their status through cessation if events have demonstrated they no longer need protection. No suggestion or implication of misrepresentation is required, and in fact would not be relevant to a finding of cessation. There are several situations in which a person’s refugee protection will be found to have ceased, in particular if a protected person:

  1. Has voluntarily re-availed themselves of the protection of their country;
  2. Having lost their nationality, have voluntarily re-acquired it;
  3. Have acquired a new nationality, and enjoys the protection of the country of the new nationality;
  4. Has voluntarily re-established themselves in the country which they left; and/or
  5. The circumstances in connection with which they were recognized as a refugee have ceased to exist.

The most significant change with changes to cessation now allow for the loss of permanent residence once a cessation decision is made under the first four grounds set out above.

Any protected person who has returned to their country of origin at any time since obtaining their status or who has travelled using their national passport should speak to competent counsel before having any further interactions with immigration authorities, including entering Canada at a port of entry. The consequences of a cessation proceeding can be devastating, and it is important to get good advice as early as possible in the process.