Reports and papers

In Search of Control | Canada

12 Feb 2024 - 13:00
Source: New Canadian citizens during a citizenship ceremony on the Canada 150 ice rink on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, December 15, 2017. © Reuters
A ‘safe haven’ for refugees?

Canada’s balancing act between promise and pressure

This report provides insight into the key features of Canada’s asylum policy and practice regarding access to protection, extra-territorial and territorial asylum.

There is a vast amount of information on the Canadian immigration and refugee system both from official government sources and researchers. For example, through the Asile Project, two recent reports were written on the Canadian system. New developments with respect to the US Canada Safe Third Country Agreement have already been given considerable in-depth analysis from Canadian and international scholars. Given the short period for this research (July-November 2023) and the overall objective of the research project, this report will describe those features and practices in Canada which could provide further guidance and insights for the Dutch and EU context.

The report will first describe the main features of the Canadian system, which will be further detailed and referenced under the specific sections. The report will then include some statistics for a better understanding of the Canadian context. It will look at the societal and demographic context. It will focus next on border management, access to the in-land asylum procedures (territorial asylum), and pathways for regular entry through extra-territorial asylum. Lastly, it will provide more statistics and look at the outcomes of the system.

Canada is openly an immigration country. It also prides itself in a tradition of offering refugee protection and a national legal system based on the rule of law and non-discrimination.

With respect to access to the Canadian asylum system, there are a number of current and specific issues which will be described in more detail, as these are also relevant for the contexts of other countries: The application of the Canada US Safe Third Country Agreement; Canada’s refugee resettlement system and complementary legal pathways; and Canada’s system of target and level setting for immigrants and refugees.

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About the project

This report is part of the project 'In Search of Control: International comparative research on (extra-)territorial access to asylum and humanitarian protection'. The purpose of this comparative research project, led by the Clingendael Institute, was to collect existing knowledge about the asylum systems of Australia, Canada, Denmark, the Netherlands, and the United States, and to complement this with an analysis of national legislation, policy, and implementation practices, focussing on access to (extra-)territorial asylum. While there are overlaps, each of the asylum and refugee protection systems in the research project operates in very different geographical situations and political contexts. Find the other country reports here.