Citizens of any country in the world are allowed to make a claim for refugee status in Canada, including Americans.
However, the circumstances for an application for refugee status made by an American national to be approved are exceptionally limited. Out of 642 claims for refugee status made in 2018 by US citizens, only 2 were approved.
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The United States and Canada are signatories of the Safe Third Country Agreement, a bilateral agreement which establishes both nations as safe places for refugees to seek protection. The Supreme Court of Canada has found the Safe Third Country Agreement to be unconstitutional just this year, however it is still in place at this time. This is important because it is the legal establishment of both nations as places so safe that they will not accept refugee claims from people already present in either nation. The agreement has been in place for nearly 20 years.
While it is not impossible for an American to make a claim for refugee status in Canada, their personal circumstances would have to be absolutely dire for there to be any chance of approval.
The legal basis for a claim for refugee or protected person status is outlined in sections 96 and 97 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act:
96 A Convention refugee is a person who, by reason of a well-founded fear of persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group or political opinion,
(a) is outside each of their countries of nationality and is unable or, by reason of that fear, unwilling to avail themself of the protection of each of those countries;
What this means is that if you have a well-founded fear of actual persecution, such as violence, imprisonment, because of your race, religion, sexual orientation, political opinion, nationality, or membership in a particular social group then you have a basis to make a claim for refugee status in Canada.
What this does not mean is that you have a legal basis for a refugee claim because one candidate or another won the United States presidential election.
Person in need of protection
97 (1) A person in need of protection is a person in Canada whose removal to their country or countries of nationality or, if they do not have a country of nationality, their country of former habitual residence, would subject them personally
(a) to a danger, believed on substantial grounds to exist, of torture within the meaning of Article 1 of the Convention Against Torture; or
(b) to a risk to their life or to a risk of cruel and unusual treatment or punishment if
(i) the person is unable or, because of that risk, unwilling to avail themself of the protection of that country,
(ii) the risk would be faced by the person in every part of that country and is not faced generally by other individuals in or from that country,
(iii) the risk is not inherent or incidental to lawful sanctions, unless imposed in disregard of accepted international standards, and
(iv) the risk is not caused by the inability of that country to provide adequate health or medical care.
What this means is that if you were to be sent back to your country of nationality, and you would be tortured or subject to cruel and unusual punishment, you would have a legal basis for a claim for protection.
What this does not mean is that you have a legal basis for a claim for protection because you are not happy with the current social situation in the United States.
If you are in danger of persecution or at risk of torture, then you should seek protection.
If you are an American citizen and want to move to Canada, but you are not in an appropriate situation for seeking protection, contact us to determine if a you may be eligible for permanent or temporary residence in Canada.