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Canada Program

Canada Global Refugee Stream for Human Rights Defenders

The Canadian government has established a dedicated refugee stream for human rights defenders for resettlement to Canada. There are a limited number of places available and applicants must meet specific criteria in order to be eligible to apply.

The eligibility criteria are:

    • Be a human rights defender at risk
    • Meet the criteria to qualify as a refugee (see UNHCR definition)
    • Have fled home country due to persecution  because of human rights work
    • Be without access to a durable solution in the host country
    • Be interested in permanent resettlement in Canada

For more information about the program, you can send an email to

Please note that the Refugee Stream is not a quick solution for emergency evacuation. It is a process that may take several months or a year and will require submission of several forms, references and documents.

The Refugee Stream is managed by the Canadian Government and the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR). Front Line Defenders will advise the Canadian Government and UNHCR on human rights defenders at risk. Please note that Front Line Defenders will not be involved in the resettlement process itself and the final decision making.

For candidates who are successful in their referral to Canada, transport will be arranged by Canada via the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) on a loan basis.


Canada Humanitarian program for Afghan human rights defenders in need of resettlement

Update January 2022: The resettlement spaces for human rights defenders are now full. The number of requests we received has been far greater than the limited spaces available for human rights defenders. While we continue to advocate for more spaces, at present we are unable to accept further requests.

The Canadian Government can support Human Rights Defenders at risk who are in need of resettlement to Canada through its Humanitarian Program.

As a referral partner, Front Line Defenders will refer cases of human rights defenders at risk who meet certain criteria to the Canadian Government for consideration.

In order to be eligible to apply as a human rights defender, you must meet the following criteria:

  1. The applicant is an Afghan human rights defender who is at risk because of their human rights work.
  2. Human rights defender is any person who peacefully works for the promotion and protection of human rights of all. A human rights defender is not limited to those who work for a human rights organization. However, due to the volume of requests we are compelled to consider active contribution to human rights and the risk faced which is linked to their human rights work.
  3. We recognise that risk may increase due to the identity of the human rights defender including gender, sexual orientation, ethnic and religious identity.
  4. To qualify for this program the human rights defender should traditionally be located outside Afghanistan, but taking into account the context, provision can also be made for those currently in the country.
  5. The Canadian Government process requires any person that is referred to qualify within their admissibility and eligibility criteria. For information on such criteria and what family members can be included, please refer to the following link.
  6. Each applicant must be clear that they wish to travel to Canada to establish permanent residence
  7. The applicant is known to, or has been vetted by, Front Line Defenders or, and is not known to pose risks to Canada that would make them inadmissible.

If you meet the criteria and would like to send us your details for consideration for next year, please send information on your human rights work, risks faced as a result of your human rights work and references to:
Please do not send any attachments in your email and only include the information requested.

Although human rights defenders are key members of civil society, not all NGOs or other actors in civil society are human rights defenders. Active contribution to human rights and a clear link between the risk faced and human rights work is important.

Please note that space is extremely limited even for those meeting the criteria of human rights defenders.

If you are not a human rights defender but you meet one of the other eligibility criteria as a woman leader, LGBTI individual, persecuted religious or ethnic minority or a journalist please you will need to refer to the Canadian government website for more information.

Please note that this information refers only to the access for Human Rights Defenders. The Canadian Government offers other processes which may provide an opportunity for Afghan nationals to apply for resettlement through its Humanitarian Program. Front Line Defenders is not part of those processes. More information on this mechanism may be obtained through the Canadian government web page.