February 15, 2013 – Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) now has 35 countries listed as Designated Countries of Origin (DCO), 27 in effect as of December 15, 2012 and an additional eight as of February 15, 2013.
DCOs are considered not to be refugee producing by CIC, in that they offer state protection against persecution and have a good human rights record. This is according to the number of claims made and the number of claims abandoned. A country may be designated if in the previous three years there were less than 30 finalized claims within any consecutive 12-month period. Additionally, country conditions, including having an independent judiciary, the respecting of democratic rights and freedoms, and the existence of civil society organizations are considered.
However, DCO claimants have a shorter time to make a claim and fewer avenues of appeal than those making claims from non-designated countries.
DCO claims may still be heard before the Refugee Protection Division of the Immigration and Refugee Board. Yet DCO claims made inland will be heard in 30 days, and those made at a port of entry will be heard in 45 days. Non-DCO claimants will have 60 days to prepare for the hearing.
Additionally, DCO claimants do not have access to the newly created Refugee Appeal Division, but may seek judicial review of a negative decision in Federal Court. DCO Claimants in such circumstances will not receive an automatic stay of removal once judicial review is sought. This means that such a claimant may be removed while the court application is pending. However, a claimant in these circumstances may ask the Federal Court to stay their removal.
Although an application for a Pre-Removal Risk Assessment (PRRA) is barred to failed refugee applicants for one year of the rejected claim, DCO claimants cannot apply for a PRRA within three years after the claim has been rejected.
– Written by Richard McKergow, a Paralegal licensed by the Law Society of Upper Canada and guest author on this site.