Canada ends the Designated Country of Origin practice

The Government of Canada has announced it has removed all countries from the Designated Country of Origin list which had previously been used in an attempt to discourage misuse of the asylum system.

Introduced in 2012, claimants from the 42 countries on the designated Country of Origin list were previously subject to a six-month bar on work permits, a bar on appeals at the Refugee Appeals Division, limited access to the Interim Federal Health Program and a 36-month bar on the Pre-Removal Risk Assessment.

By removing all countries from the Designated Country of Origin (DCO) list, Canada is effectively suspending the DCO policy until it can be repealed through future legislative changes.

“We are keeping our promise to Canadians and taking another important step towards building an asylum system that’s both fair and efficient while helping the most vulnerable people in the world,” said Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship.

The Canadian government explained that DCO policy did not fulfil its objective of discouraging misuse of the asylum system and of processing refugee claims from these countries faster. Additionally, several Federal Court decisions struck down certain provisions of the DCO policy, ruling that they did not comply with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

From 1st January 2013 to 31st March 2019, just 12 per cent of asylum claims were from citizens of designated countries of origin.

De-designating the country of origin initiative has no impact on the Canada-US Safe Third Country Agreement. It will also have no impact on visa policy decisions or the outcomes of decisions at the independent Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada.

Article published 21st May 2019