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Eligibility Interviews at the Border or Airport: Know Your Rights

What is an eligibility interview?

An eligibility interview takes place after you make a refugee claim.

It is a meeting with Canada Border Services Agency where they will make sure that you are allowed to make a refugee claim according to the rules of Canadian law. Being allowed to make a refugee claim means that you are “eligible” to make a claim.

Where will it happen and what will happen?

If you made your refugee claim at the border or at the airport, your eligibility interview will probably happen there with an officer from the Canada Border Services Agency.

You will probably be asked questions about: who you are and details about your life, how and why you came to Canada, and what you are afraid of in your country. The officer will put this information into their computer system.

Why do I need to have an eligibility interview?

Some of the things that the Canadian government is checking are: that you are who you say you are, that you are not a dangerous person to enter Canada and that you are not already a refugee in another country.

What are my rights at the eligibility interview?

You have the right to an interpreter in your language.

You have the right to take as many breaks as you need to go to the bathroom, to eat food or to rest.

You have the right to be treated with respect.

You have the right complain if you are not treated well by the officer or if you think that the officer made a mistake.

You have the right to ask questions so you can understand what is happening.

If you’re under 18 years old you have a right to have an adult-aged support person present with you.

What if I made my refugee claim online instead of at the airport or the border?

If you made your refugee claim online through the IRCC portal, you will still have an eligibility interview. But it will be with an officer from Immigration, Refugee, Citizenship Canada.

The date and instructions for your interview will be sent to you in your online portal account.

If you get an email notification that there is an update in your portal account, check it right away! If your lawyer is managing your portal account, check with them to see if there is any update about an eligibility interview.

If you are in the Ontario, under 18 years old, making a refugee claim and are alone, contact the Centre for Refugee Children to see how we can support you with your eligibility interview

To read more about what might happen at your eligibility interview, go to this website.