In an effort to streamline its asylum system, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) has added new countries to its list of Designated Countries of Origin (DCOs). As of May 31, 2013, there will be 37 countries on the DCO list.

DCOs are countries that the government has determined produces low amounts of genuine refugees. Asylum applicants from these countries receive expedited processing once in Canada. They can expect to receive an immigration hearing within 30-45 days of submitting their application. Claimants from non-designated countries receive hearings within 60 days. While claimants who fail to qualify for immigration may appeal the decision in Federal Court, they may not access the government’s Refugee Appeal Division.

“Canada’s new asylum system is providing protection to genuine refugees more quickly, while removing unfounded claimants from the country faster,” said Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney. “The ability to designate countries is a key part of the new system, which has proven to be successful as claims from designated countries of origin have decreased by 91 per cent when compared to the same time period over the last six years.

To be considered for designation, one of two scenarios must be true. If Canada receives 30 or more refugee claimants a year from the country, at least 60 per cent must withdraw their claims, or at least 75 per cent must be withdrawn or rejected by the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada. If less than 30 are received a year, the country is evaluated to determine its level of safety. This includes an evaluation of its judicial system, recognition of human rights, and the existence of civil society organizations. Countries that fulfill one of these two scenarios may be places on the DCO list.

The two most recent countries to become DCOs are Chile and South Korea. Other countries include:

Australia

Hungary

New Zealand

Austria

Iceland

Norway

Belgium

Ireland

Poland

Croatia

Israel

Portugal

Cyprus

Italy

Slovak Republic

Czech Republic

Japan

Slovenia

Denmark

Latvia

Spain

Estonia

Lithuania

Sweden

Finland

Luxembourg

Switzerland

France

Malta

United Kingdom

Germany

Mexico

United States

Greece

Netherlands