Normally, refugees are obligated to stay away from their home countries for fear of getting their refugee status revoked by the immigration authorities. They have fled their countries to escape the danger of prosecution, imprisonment, or even death.
However, there are cases where refugees have successfully traveled to their home country and have not had their statuses revoked. Court cases show that if provided with sufficient justification, the IRCC may decide in favor of the refugee and allow them to return without the revocation of their status.
What is the "cessation" or "removal" of refugee status? The process refers to the removal of an individual's protected status and associated privileges due to their failure to comply with certain legal requirements. In Canada, an individual’s refugee status can be cessated on any of the following grounds:
Refugees with revoked statuses also become prohibited from entering Canada and are supposed to depart from the country. Any future applications for visas or asylum will be refused unless the Federal Court says otherwise (the action known as “special permission”). “Special permission” cannot be applied for at least one year following the suspension of refugee status.
If the Refugee Protection Division (RPD) suspects that the individual has violated any of the above-mentioned rules, it may investigate and initiate an Application to Cease Refugee Protection (ACRP).
After an ACRP has been initiated, the authorities will also stop the refugee’s citizenship and sponsorship applications.
Once an ACRP is filed, the refugee will have to attend a hearing before the immigration authorities and the RPD. Both agencies will then decide whether or not the refuge will be allowed to keep their status. A negative decision by the RPD can be retried in the Federal Court of Canada.
The 2019 case of Do Mee Tung v. Public Safety Canada shows you can fight the proposed suspension of refugee status due to traveling to your country of origin.
Ms. Tung petitioned for a review of the removal order placed on her in 2018. Ms. Tung came to Canada from China in 2001 and made a claim for refugee protection. She was granted asylum in 2002 and received permanent residency in 2004. Over the next ten years, Ms. Tung successfully applied for several Chinese passports and traveled to her home country over twelve times.
The RPD nullified Ms. Tung’s refugee status based on her violating the requirements of her status. Her refugee status was revoked and an additional report by the RPD was filed in 2018 recommending a further revocation of Ms. Tung's permanent residency. Ms. Tung was issued with a departure order and was commanded to leave Canada.
In her defense, Ms. Tung stated that since she was and remains a permanent resident of Canada and not a foreign citizen, she cannot be placed under a removal order in the same way that a refugee would.
The judge concluded that although Ms. Tung violated the regulations imposed upon her by her status as a refugee, she also holds the status of a permanent resident of Canada. Permanent residency, as the judge noted, is “analogous to and typically the last step on the road to citizenship.” Permanent residence status affords many of the same rights as citizens and implies the same constitutional protections.
The question of whether or not Ms. Tung should be permitted to continue living in the country was ultimately ordered to be remanded for redetermination by a different decision-maker.