The most important person in helping you get to safety is you. It is critical that you educate yourself on the different options available to you in creating a strategy to get out. It will be your responsibility to help us verify your case, work with us on developing a pathway to safety, and to obtain your own travel documents. Rainbow Railroad employees and volunteers are not immigration consultants and can't provide legal advice.
We’re working hard to increase our ability to help more LGBTQI people in need but Rainbow Railroad is still a small organization. Our limited resources and the time it takes to build strong links with partners on the ground in high-risk countries prevent us from helping every individual that reaches out to us. We have successfully helped individuals from 18 countries around the world find routes to safety. We are working on developing out partnerships and knowledge to assist folks from other regions that prove more difficult to navigate.
Below you will find information about the process we follow in helping people and links to help you understand the options available to you. Many of the resources provided mention relocation to Canada, but Rainbow Railroad assists people to travel to a number of countries outside of North America as well.
The first step in our process is to verify your request for help. This process allows us to avoid fraud and focus our limited resources on legitimate cases of LGBTQI individuals at risk that we can help. It also helps potential asylum seekers to build evidence and supporting documents that they may need later when attempting to make an asylum claim in a safer country.
Cases are sometimes referred to us by trusted LGBTQI organizations with which we have a close relationship. In these situations, the LGBTQI organization is able to confirm that an individual is a member of their community and in legitimate need of our support. For cases that are from countries where we do not have close relationships, we attempt to verify cases through organizations such as ILGA members and through people who have already come to Canada.
Sometimes individuals send us additional information to support their request such as:
- Letters from friends and family members confirming that they are LGBTQI and at risk.
- Letters from past romantic or sexual partners confirming their relationship.
- Police records of arrest or medical records of injuries due to anti-LGBTQI violence.
- Newspaper or media reports that publicly “out” an individual or name them in incidents of homophobic violence.
- Photos or other supporting documents.
We understand that it can be very difficult for individuals at risk to reach-out to other LGBTQI people or organizations in high-risk countries, but we only provide support once we verify a case. We treat all information that is shared with us confidentially and all of our case-work volunteers sign confidentiality and non-disclosure agreements.
Once we verify your case, we work with you to find a plan to get to safety. This step is your responsibility, but we do our best to provide you with resources and contacts to help you get to safety. For this step, you will need to understand what travel documents you currently have, which documents you will be able to obtain and which countries you can legally travel to.
Once your case is verified and you have developed a plan that will work for you, Rainbow Railroad’s Case Committee will assess and prioritize your case for funding. In the past we have provided funds for airfare, visa and passport fees, local transportation and other incidentals. Funds are limited so we prioritize requests based on the availability of funds, our ability to help and the needs of each case.
Generally speaking, there are two ways that individuals can obtain
refugee status in a safer country – they either enter the country and make an
asylum claim in that country (In-land claimants), or apply to be resettled as a refugee from a third
country that’s not a place they could apply to stay.
RESOURCES FOR IN-LAND CLAIMANTS
Citizenship and Immigration Canada – Claiming from inside Canada
Envisioning Global LGBT Human Rights - Information Sheet: Making an LGBTQI Refugee Protection Claim in Canada
Immigration Equality – Asylum Manual USA
Rainbow Refugee - A Vancouver based community group that supports people seeking refugee protection in Canada because of persecution based on sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression (SOGIE) or HIV status.
RESOURCES FOR RESETTLEMENT
Guide to Oversees Resettlement
United Nations Refugee Agency
Citizenship and Immigration Canada
Sponsorship Agreement Holders - A list of groups that can sponsor refugees to come to Canada.
Asylum Connect - Online resource database for LGBTQI asylum seekers in the U.S and Canada.
In order to verify your case and provide assistance, we need to know as much information as possible about your situation. When contacting us, please include: what country and region you are in; what forms of violence and/or threats you've experienced related to your sexual orientation, gender identity and/or gender expression; and what immediate risk you are in. Also, please let us know which, if any, LGBT organization in your country you have contacted and which travel documents you currently have. After we receive your information, we aim to get back to you within three weeks.
It may be some time before we can contact you, given the overwhelming demand from people whose lives are at danger around the world so it’s important for you to keep exploring options for you to get out.
Thank you – your submission has been sent to our volunteer team.
If you have provided your contact information and information on the risks you face because you are LGBTQ, we aim to respond to your request within two weeks.
Due to the high volume of requests we receive, we will only be able to respond to requests when information about the risks you face is provided. Please DO NOT send us multiple emails as this slow the process down.
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