OTTAWA — An emotionally and politically charged debate over Canada's refugee policy has exploded since the photo of a drowned three year old rocked the world this week.
Here's a look at how the process works:
There are different rules for those making refugee applications upon arrival in Canada and those applying from abroad.
People seeking refugee status while outside Canada, but not in their home country, also face specific rules.
There are two classes of refugees, according to Citizenship and Immigration Canada.
The first class must have a well-grounded fear of persecution, be referred by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) or another referral agency, or be sponsored by a private sponsorship group.
In addition, they must be selected as a government-assisted or privately sponsored refugee, or have the funds needed to support themselves and any dependents after arrival in Canada.
The second class comprises victims of civil war or armed conflict, or those who have suffered massive violations of human rights.
They, too, require a referral from the UNHCR or another recognized organization — or be sponsored by a private sponsorship group.
In addition, they must be privately sponsored or have the money to support themselves and any dependents in Canada.
Both classes need to pass a medical exam and security and criminal checks.
Those who have another offer of protection or have citizenship and protection in another safe country are not eligible.
Sponsorships can fall into three categories: sponsorship agreement holders; community sponsors and groups of five.
The minister of Citizenship and Immigration also has the discretionary power to bypass the regular citizenship or refugee process and simply grant citizenship to individuals on compassionate grounds.
The UNHCR says a refugee is someone who "owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality and is unable to or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country."
The Canadian Press