Pre-Removal Risk Assessments in Canada
If you’re in danger, you may qualify for a PRRA
Canada aims to ensure that people being removed from Canada are not sent to a country where they would be in danger or at risk of persecution. One mechanism frequently utilized to achieve this aim is a pre-removal risk assessment (PRRA). A foreign national facing removal from Canada may be eligible for a PRRA.
An immigration officer determines the eligibility of an individual to apply for a PRRA.
Persons Who Are Ineligible
(a) If you made a refugee claim that was determined to be ineligible for referral to the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) because you came to Canada from a Safe Third Country, you would not be entitled to a PRRA
(b) If you were found to be a Convention Refugee in another country, to which you may return, you will also not be eligible for a PRRA
(c) If you are subject to an extradition request, you may not be eligible for a PRRA
One-Year Ban for Certain Individuals
Subject to the exemptions discussed below, if you made a refugee claim or previously applied for a PRRA and your application was rejected, abandoned, or withdrawn, you may not apply for a PRRA unless at least 12 months have elapsed.
Countries Exempt from the One-Year Ban
If there is a sudden change in country conditions, certain nationals may not have to wait for the 12 months to pass before applying for a PRRA.
Safe Third Country Agreement with the U.S. and PRRA Assessments
This is an agreement between Canada and the U.S. as part of the U.S.-Canada Smart Border Action Plan. The requirement is for refugee claimants to seek refugee protection in the first safe country they arrive in, unless they qualify for an exception. The U.S. is currently designated as a safe third country by Canada.
The Safe Third Country Agreement with the U.S. can be invoked in cases involving refugee claimants who are seeking entry to Canada from U.S. via Canada-U.S. land border crossings by road or train, or at airports.
There are some exceptions to the Safe Third Country Agreement. The rules, policies, and practices surrounding it can be tricky and potential claimants are encouraged to utilize the services of experienced authorized representatives, such as immigration and citizenship consultants.
How to Apply for a PRRA
If you are found to be eligible, you will be given an application form and guide, and you will have 15 days to apply.
If you receive the form and guide by regular mail, you will be given an additional seven days.
Your removal order will then be suspended until:
(a) You notify IRCC that you do not intend to apply for a PRRA; or
(b) You miss the application deadline; or
(c) You apply for a PRRA and your application is rejected (or you withdraw or abandon your application); or
(d) Your application is approved.
To support your application, you can submit written evidence to help explain the risk you would face upon leaving Canada.
What the Immigration Officer Will Consider in Assessing the Validity of a PRRA Application
(a) Risk of persecution as defined in the Geneva Convention
(b) Danger of torture
(c) Risk to your life or the risk that you may be subjected to cruel and unusual treatment or punishment
Most accepted applicants will become protected persons who may apply to become permanent residents.
If the application is rejected, the applicant must leave Canada. Rejected applicants may apply to the Federal Court of Canada for a review of the decision.
Tips for Preparing Your PRRA Application
(a) You must complete and submit IM M5508.; all family members in Canada 18 years of age or older who are applying for a PRRA must complete their own IMM5508
(b) Written submissions clearly explaining the basis for approving the PRRA will strengthen your application
(c) Attach any news article pertaining to the country’s dangerous state
(d) Submit affidavits from family and friends explaining the dangers you have faced and will potentially face
(e) Submit any police, legal, or medical documents
All family members inside and/or outside Canada should be listed on the IMM5508.
Issues That May Be Covered in Written Submissions
In a written submission, the applicant can offer an explanation as to why they are at risk if they were returned to the country of their nationality or habitual residence. This could be complemented by details on the types of risks and why they exist.
An applicant would also benefit from explaining why escaping to another country is not an option and how their situation compares with the situation of other people in the country. In addition, any new evidence or information, including that which follows a rejection, that may be helpful in explaining the applicant’s situation will only help their cause.
Working in Canada When a PRRA Application is Pending
If you have a valid work permit and you submit your PRRA application by the deadline, you can work until a decision is rendered.
If your work permit has expired and you submit your PRRA application on time, you may apply for a work permit up until a decision is made on your application. If you leave Canada before a decision is made, your application will be abandoned and rejected.
The usual practice is for PRRA applications to be assessed on the basis of written submissions. Notwithstanding the above convention, an individual seeking a PRRA may be called to report for a hearing to answer any questions about the application. In such a case, the individual will receive written notice indicating the location, date, and time of the hearing. The notice will also outline matters to be discussed. Such an individual may use the services of an authorized representative who is able to support them at the hearing.