Quebec Pre-Removal Risk Assessments

Overview of Quebec’s Pre-Removal Risk Assessment Process

The Quebec Pre-Removal Risk Assessment (PRRA) is a critical process for individuals in Canada who face removal from the country and believe they are at risk if they return to their homeland. Specifically tailored for the province of Quebec, the PRRA provides a safety net for those whose circumstances may have changed since their refugee claim was evaluated or whose initial claim may have been overlooked or denied.

In essence, the PRRA is a chance for individuals to present new evidence or submit significant information that illustrates a risk of persecution, torture, cruel and unusual treatment or punishment if they are sent back to their country of origin. The risk assessment is meticulous and attempts to consider the nuances of the applicant’s personal situation as well as the general conditions in the country from which they have come. It’s important to recognize that this procedure is not a means for re-appealing a refugee claim; instead, it is focused on assessing risk based on new elements or facts that were not reasonably available during the initial refugee process.

The PRRA process involves a paper-based review, where no face-to-face hearings typically take place. Applicants under this process need to submit comprehensive written documentation to support their case. This encompasses affidavits, country reports, news articles, and any other relevant evidence to substantiate their claim of risk. It is a sensitive and confidential procedure, specifically designed to uphold the protection of individuals under Canada’s obligations to international conventions against sending individuals to countries where they could face serious threats to their life or freedom.

Not all failed refugee claimants in Quebec are eligible for a PRRA. The government sets eligibility criteria that must be met, and there are also specific timelines and procedures that are important for applicants to understand and follow carefully. Adherence to the details of the application process is paramount, as any misstep can lead to delays, or worse, a denial of the PRRA application. Due to the complex and critical nature of the PRRA process, many applicants seek the assistance of legal representatives or organizations specializing in Canadian immigration to guide them through the procedure and enhance their chances of success.

Eligibility Criteria for Applicants

The eligibility for a Pre-Removal Risk Assessment in Quebec is structured around a set of specific criteria that individuals must meet to qualify for consideration. It’s essential to understand these criteria fully, as failure to meet them can result in immediate disqualification from the PRRA process. Here are the primary eligibility conditions that applicants should consider:

  • Previous Refugee Claim: Applicants must have had a refugee claim rejected, abandoned, or withdrawn. It is important to note that only those who have received a final decision on their refugee status by the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB) or the Federal Court are considered.
  • Non-eligibility for Appeal: Those who have the right to appeal their refugee claim decision are typically not eligible for a PRRA until that right has been exhausted or waived.
  • No Prior PRRA: An individual is generally eligible for a PRRA only if they have not undergone this process within the last 12 months. However, there may be exceptions to this rule if conditions in the applicant’s home country have deteriorated significantly.
  • Issued Removal Order: A key requirement for PRRA eligibility is the existence of a valid removal order against the applicant.
  • Bar on Re-Entry: Different bars on re-entry to Canada could affect eligibility. For instance, individuals who are inadmissible due to serious criminality or security concerns usually cannot apply for a PRRA.
  • Time in Canada: The length of time the applicant has already spent in Canada can also impact eligibility, particularly if the applicant is under a 12-month bar after a previous PRRA assessment or refugee claim decision.

It is pertinent for potential applicants to recognize that meeting the eligibility criteria does not automatically lead to a favourable decision in their PRRA application. Instead, it simply means they have the opportunity to submit their case for evaluation. The actual assessment of risk will be based on the new evidence presented and the current conditions in the country of origin.

To navigate the intricacies of the eligibility requirements, many applicants find it advantageous to seek legal advice or support from organizations experienced in immigration law and the specific procedures of the Quebec immigration system. Such expertise can be crucial in reviewing one’s situation against the eligibility criteria, preparing the necessary documentation for submission, and offering support throughout the PRRA process.

Given the potential consequences of removal, individuals must carefully assess their eligibility and prepare their PRRA application thoroughly. Any oversight or error in understanding the eligibility criteria could have grave implications for the outcome of the case and the future safety of the applicant.

Procedure and Timeline for Risk Assessments

The procedure for a Pre-Removal Risk Assessment in Quebec begins when an individual is notified by the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) that they are subject to a removal order. At this point, if they are eligible, they receive instructions on applying for a PRRA. Applicants then have a limited period, typically 15 days after notification, to submit their completed PRRA application. Given the short timeframe, prompt action is essential.

The timeline for a decision on the PRRA varies and can be influenced by a range of factors, including the complexity of the case and the volume of applications being processed. As a best practice, applicants should compile their documentation as quickly and thoroughly as possible upon receiving instructions. The documentation needs to be comprehensive and directly address the potential risks the individual claims to face if removed from Canada.

The necessary documentation may include:

  • A detailed personal written statement outlining the specific risks
  • Supporting affidavits from witnesses or other individuals with knowledge of the applicant’s situation
  • Reports on the current conditions in the applicant’s country of origin, such as those from human rights organizations or governmental advisories
  • Medical records if they are relevant to the claim of risk
  • Any new evidence that was not presented in the original refugee claim

Once the PRRA is submitted, the review is paper-based, where an officer from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) examines the details of the application. The applicant typically does not attend an interview or hearing. However, in rare cases where the officer reviewing the application needs additional information or clarification, they may request an interview.

The decision after a PRRA is not immediate. The government endeavors to make decisions within a reasonable time frame, but there may be delays. Should the assessment result in a rejection, applicants are expected to comply with the removal order. However, if there is a positive decision, the applicant may stay in Canada and may gain protected person status, which can open a pathway to permanent residence. In some cases, a risk decision may be challenged through judicial review by the Federal Court, but this is subject to strict deadlines and criteria.

Throughout the PRRA process, it is crucial for applicants to maintain communication with IRCC and comply with all requests for additional information and deadlines. Failure to respond promptly may result in a decision being made on the information already on file, which could decrease the likelihood of a successful outcome.

Owing to the high stakes involved in the PRRA process, many individuals seek legal representation. Immigration lawyers and accredited representatives from non-profit organizations can assist in collecting and presenting evidence, meeting deadlines, and ensuring that all procedural requirements are satisfied. By leveraging their expertise, applicants can enhance the quality of their submission and increase their chances of a favorable decision.