Our objective is to address questions about legal status trajectories and the socioeconomic experiences of people who make refugee claims in Canada. How do they and their children fare compared to newcomers arriving through skilled and family class categories, as temporary residents or international students, and in particular, compared to refugees selected overseas? How does the timing of claims (at arrival versus later), time in Canada, and experience in other immigration situations affect labour market integration outcomes? Is it possible to identify trajectories with only a refugee claim versus a claim and additional status situations?
Available research underscores the labour market challenges faced by immigrants in general (Wilkinson et. al 2016), particularly refugees (Wilkinson and Garcea 2017) and their children (Hou and Bonikowska 2016). Refugees have lower earnings and their children have poorer educational outcomes compared to those in other admission classes. This work usually examines refugees as a whole, without distinguishing between sub-categories. Work on Syrians will shed light on privately sponsored refugees (CES special issue, 2018). Research on the labour market experiences of refugee claimants is geographically specific, dated, but useful: Quebec-based studies published 15 years ago find different and usually poorer outcomes for claimants (Godin & Renaud 2002; Renaud, Godin & Piché 2003).
This confirms that refugee children, youth and adults are not homogeneous. In addition to variation by country of origin, context of departure, education, gender, languages, etc., Canadian policy has different humanitarian programs (Wilkinson & Garcea 2017), which contribute to differences by entry sub-class. A key distinction involves the location and timing of refugee selection and determination, and immigration status on arrival. Another involves access to services and social and institutional supports. GARs, PSRs and BVORs are selected overseas and arrive as permanent residents with access to settlement services. PSRs and BVORs have social supports through sponsors, while GARs may be supported through faith and other organizations. In contrast, refugee claimants apply at the border, or inland. Their applications may start upon arrival or much later; determinations take time and are unpredictable. “Late” claimants may have spent time without access to services or authorized employment. Claimants may apply for a work permit and access services – but their SIN starts with 9, marking them as temporary, and precarious noncitizens (Landolt & Goldring 2015).
We propose an exploratory study of the IMDB and TRD database to examine the economic integration of claimants. Two applicants are among the few scholars familiar with this data (Yoshida and Amoyaw 2018). We will identify records with claimant experience, then explore the construction of clusters organized by period of arrival (4 cohorts 1997-2015), timing of claim, and whether the claim was followed by landing in Canada using sequence analysis. Cohorts will be defined by key changes in government and policies. Outputs will include new knowledge about the legal status trajectories of claimants and preliminary information on associated economic outcomes. This can inform subsequent research on the long-term consequences of entry category and trajectories, and support SPOs working with claimants and their families.