A Cautionary Note to Refugees and Permanent Residents
Since 2013, the Canada Borders Services Agency (CBSA) has been committed to referring almost 900 refugee vacation or cessation cases per year to the Refugee Protection Division (RPD) of the Immigration and Refugee Board. Cessation hearings are then scheduled where the RPD will determine whether the refugee is no longer in need of Canada’s protection.
As the law currently stands, when the RPD ceases a permanent resident’s refugee status, that individual can automatically lose their permanent resident status and becomes inadmissible to Canada.
Many people facing cessation proceedings have been well-established permanent residents who returned to their country years before the law made the loss of permanent residence a consequence of return. Many of them have legitimate reasons for returning, such as a sick or dying relative, and felt that their risk could be managed for a short period of time.
There is no time limit on when the CBSA can initiate cessation proceedings. There have been cases where the Minister brought cessation applications over 20 years after the refugees became permanent residents of Canada.
The CBSA appears to be taking a very aggressive approach to stripping away permanent residence from individuals who could not have anticipated the consequences of their actions.
If you are a permanent resident of Canada, you should think about:
1. Applying for citizenship as soon as you are eligible;
2. Using a Canadian Travel Document if you plan to travel. Do not use, obtain or renew a non-Canadian passport; and
3. Seeking immediate legal advice if you become the subject of a cessation application.