What are my rights as a refugee?


There are different types of refugees, but in general, they are eligible for public services like education and healthcare, but can’t vote.

Who are refugees?

In Canada, there are different types of refugees:

Protected persons former refugee claimants whose claim has been accepted by the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada. Protected persons are formally recognized by the Government of Canada and can apply for permanent residence.

Resettled refugees – arrive in Canada as through different resettlement programs (i.e. Government-Assisted Refugees Program, Private Sponsorship of Refugees Program, or blended support between government and private sponsors programs). Resettled refugees have Permanent Resident status as soon as they arrive in Canada.

As a refugee, you can:

  • Receive limited health coverage under the Interim Federal Health Program, including some pre-departure medical services
  • Receive free public healthcare through the Ontario Health Insurance Program (OHIP) after arriving in Ontario as a resettled refugee or once your refugee claim has been accepted
  • Attend any high school in Ontario (Catholic or public)
  • Work if you’re a Permanent Resident or by applying for a work permit
  • Attend college or university if you’re a Permanent Resident or by applying to the Student Refugee Program
  • Receive protection under Canadian law and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms

You must pay taxes and respect all Canadian laws at the federal, provincial and municipal levels.

As a refugee, you cannot:

  • Vote or run for political office
  • Hold certain jobs that have a high-level security clearance requirement
  • Get OSAP to pay for your post-secondary education (this only applies to refugee claimants)

You have many rights and responsibilities as a refugee, and you gain more — like the right to vote or run for political office — once you become a citizen.

Find more information:


“These recommendations are made from the experience of the team at MonctonCares, your own experience/costs/best advice may differ from the content of this blogpost.”

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