Acquiring Permanent Status: Refugee Resettlement

AuthorJamie Chai Yun Liew; Donald Galloway
In 2013, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees,
or the UNHCR:
51.2 million individuals wer e forcibly displaced worldwide as a result
of persecution, conf‌lict , generalized violence, or huma n rights viola-
tions. Some 16.7 million persons were ref ugees: 11.7 million under
UNHCR’s mandate and 5.0 mill ion Palestinian ref ugees registered
by UNRWA [United Nations Relief and Works Agency]. The global
f‌igure included 33.3 million inte rnally displ aced persons (IDPs) and
close to 1.2 million asylum- seekers. If these 51.2 million per sons
were a nation, they would make up t he 26th largest nation in t he
In framing its re sponse to a situation of such staggering proport ions,
the UNHCR has developed three “durable solutions” to address the
plight of populations that have f‌led across borders en m asse: (1) vol-
untary repatr iation; (2) local integration in the countr y of f‌irst asylum;
1 UN High Commi ssioner for Refugees, “UNHCR Global Trends 2013: War’s Hu-
man Cost” (20 June 2014), online: UNHCR w at 2.
and (3) resettlement.2 Re settlement occurs when “refugees are selected
and transferred f rom the country of refuge to a third State which has
agreed to admit them as ref ugees with permanent residence status”3
with the possibil ity of obtaining citizenship.4 It is proposed not only
as a durable solution but also as “a mechanism for refugee protec-
tion . . . and an element of responsibility sha ring with refugee-hosting
countrie s.”5 This chapter focuses on Canada’s policies and practices of
resettle ment.6
1) O v er v i ew
Canada’s resettlement program, in itiated in 1978, is administered by
the Department of Citize nship and Immigration Canada (CIC).7 Its main
objectives are “to save lives, offer protection to the displaced and per-
secuted, meet Canada’s international legal obligations with respect to
refugees, and respond to international crises by provid ing assistance
to those in need of resettlement.”8
The number of persons who are annually resettled in Canada and
who acquire permanent resident status is not large. In 2013, only 5,756
government-assisted refugees (GARs) were admitted, a f‌igure 15 per-
cent below target. In addition, 6,277 privately sponsored refugees were
admitted.9 Although the federal government hoped to increase the
number of resettled refugees to as m any as 13,900 in 2014, it is as yet
unclear whether the target was reached.10 Nevertheless, the Canadian
2 UN High Commi ssioner for Refugees, UNHCR Resettle ment Handbook: Divisio n
of Internati onal Protection, revised ed (Geneva: Un ited Nations High Commis-
sioner for Refugees, 2011) at 11.
3 Ibid at 28.
4 Ibid at 36.
5 Ibid.
6 Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, SC 2 001, c 27, s 12(3) [IRPA].
7 Government of Ca nada, UNHCR Resettleme nt Handbook, Country Chapte rs –
Canada, revised ed (Ottawa: Gover nment of Canada, 2014) at 2–3 [UNHCR
Resettlement Handbook, Canada Chapter]; see also I RPA , above note 6, s 12(3).
8 UNHCR Resettlement Hand book, Canada Chapter, above note 7 at 3.
9 Citizenship and Im migration Canada, Annu al Report to Parliament on Immigra-
tio n 2013 (Ottawa: Cit izenship and Immigr ation Canada, 2013) at 17.
10 Ibid at 17–18. See also UNHCR Resettle ment Handbook, Canad a Chapter, above
note 7 at 6: The range for refugee re settlement admissions i n 2014 was 11,800 to
14,2 00.

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