Pre-Removal Risk Assessments (PRRAs)

Overview of Pre-Removal Risk Assessment Process

The Pre-Removal Risk Assessment (PRRA) is a process designed to ensure that individuals facing deportation from Canada are not sent to countries where they would be at risk. This safeguard is a crucial part of the Canadian immigration system, aimed at protecting individuals whose return to their home country or the country where they normally live could subject them to persecution, torture, risk to life, or risk of cruel and unusual treatment or punishment.

Under the PRRA, individuals who have received a removal order and are ineligible to apply for refugee protection or have had their refugee claims rejected can have another opportunity to present their case. The assessment involves a thorough examination of the situation in the applicant’s country of origin, as well as their personal circumstances. It considers various factors including the general human rights situation in the relevant country, the applicant’s personal history, and the likelihood of facing harm upon return.

The PRRA process is non-adversarial, meaning the individual does not attend a hearing. Instead, it is a paper-based review, where the applicant must submit written evidence to support their case. The decision-making process is conducted by an officer from the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) or Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), who has specialized training to assess the risks in accordance with Canadian law and international obligations.

If the PRRA concludes that the individual would be in danger if returned to their country, they may be granted protected person status, which can lead to permanent resident status in Canada. If the assessment does not find a risk, the removal order stands and the individual may be deported. It is important to note that receiving a PRRA does not automatically delay or cancel a removal order. However, in some cases, a stay of removal may be granted until the PRRA decision is made.

Given the high stakes of the PRRA process, applicants are strongly encouraged to provide as much relevant and detailed information as possible. This includes country condition reports, affidavits, and any other documentation that contributes to their claim. Legal advice or representation can also be crucial in preparing a robust application, as the process is complex and the outcome can significantly impact the individual’s future.

Eligibility Criteria for a PRRA

To be eligible for a Pre-Removal Risk Assessment (PRRA), individuals must generally meet specific criteria as they are afforded this opportunity under limited circumstances. It’s essential to understand these criteria since not all individuals facing removal from Canada are entitled to a PRRA.

Here are the central eligibility criteria for a PRRA:

  • Removal Order: The person must have a valid removal order against them. This means they have been instructed to leave Canada by immigration authorities.
  • No Refugee Claim: Individuals who are eligible to make a refugee claim in Canada are not eligible for a PRRA. The PRRA is designed for those who cannot claim refugee status.
  • Prior Refugee Claim Rejected: People who have had a refugee claim or a previous refugee appeal rejected by Canadian immigration authorities may be eligible for a PRRA.
  • Time-Bar Exemptions: Certain individuals are exempt from a 12-month bar that normally applies after a failed refugee claim or previous PRRA application. This may include those who come from countries facing an administrative deferral of removals due to dangerous conditions or temporary suspension of removals because the person’s nationality or former habitual residence is subject to a moratorium on removals.
  • Risk Change: If circumstances in the applicant’s home country have changed significantly since their last application or if the applicant’s personal circumstances have changed in a way that would likely increase their risk, they may become eligible for a PRRA.
  • Exceptional Cases: There are exceptional cases where individuals may be eligible for a PRRA regardless of the 12-month bar. For example, children under 18 who are unaccompanied by a parent or legal guardian, or those who are subject to an extradition request, may be assessed on a different timeline.

It is also important to note that certain individuals are ineligible for a PRRA. Inadmissibility on grounds of serious criminality, security, violating human or international rights, or organized crime can render an individual ineligible for a PRRA.

Furthermore, applicants who are subject to a certificate of inadmissibility under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) for security reasons will also not be considered for a PRRA. The reason for this exclusion is that such cases are dealt with through a separate process in the Federal Court of Canada.

Given these stipulations, it is advisable that individuals facing removal from Canada seek advice from immigration experts or legal professionals to understand their eligibility for a PRRA fully. Those who find themselves eligible should prepare diligently and submit all required documentation to substantiate their case for staying in Canada based on risk assessment.

Steps and Required Documentation in the PRRA Application

Once you’ve determined that you are eligible for a Pre-Removal Risk Assessment (PRRA), the next steps involve preparing and submitting your application along with the necessary documentation to demonstrate the risk you would face if removed from Canada. The PRRA is your chance to show why you should be allowed to stay, so it’s essential to be thorough in your application.

The PRRA application process typically involves filling out and submitting the appropriate forms provided by the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) or Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). The documentation you provide is critical as it is the primary means by which the reviewing officer will assess your risk. Here is a list of steps and required documentation:

  • Application Forms: Complete all the required forms accurately. Any misinformation or omission can lead to the rejection of your application.
  • Personal Statement: Write a detailed personal statement explaining your fear of returning to your home country, including specific details of any past persecution or harm you have faced and the risk of future persecution.
  • Evidence of Risk: Gather evidence that supports your personal statement, such as documents related to your individual circumstances (e.g., police reports, medical records, threats received, etc.).
  • Country Reports: Provide up-to-date information and reports on the conditions in your home country from reliable sources, such as human rights organizations, to substantiate the general risk you would face upon return.
  • Affidavits: Include affidavits from witnesses or individuals who can attest to your situation or the conditions in your home country.
  • Legal Documents: If you have them, include copies of any legal proceedings, such as court decisions or police documents, related to your claim.
  • Representation: While not required, it can be very helpful to retain a lawyer or legal representative who is familiar with the PRRA process to guide you through the application and ensure you have included all relevant information and documentation.
  • Translation: Ensure that all documents are provided in English or French. If translations are necessary, they must be completed by a certified translator, and you should include both the translated and original documents in your application.

The quality and depth of the documentation can make a significant difference in the outcome of your PRRA. Incomplete or insufficient evidence may lead to a decision that does not reflect the true risks you face. Therefore, it’s crucial to take the time to gather comprehensive documentation and, if possible, seek professional advice to help strengthen your application.

After you have submitted your PRRA application, it will be reviewed by a designated officer. During the review period, you should remain available and responsive if the officer requests further information or clarification on any aspect of your application.

Be mindful of the timelines prescribed for submitting your PRRA after you receive a notice. Failing to apply within the set time frame can result in your removal from Canada without your case being assessed. As this is potentially your final opportunity to appeal for protection in Canada, attention to detail and prompt action are imperative.