Students who are refugees

Date came into force or revised

Revised, November 2011. Updated July 1, 2012



Policy statement

School-age students who have refugee status or are refugee claimants, live in British Columbia, and enrol in a BC public school are eligible for publicly-funded education and may also quality for English Language Learners services.

Rationale or purpose of policy

This policy provides expectations and guidance to BC schools about students who are refugees or refugee claimants so that these students can develop their individual potential within British Columbia’s school system.


See Sections 75, 79(3), 85(2), 106.3(5), 106.3(6), 168(2) of the School Act (PDF)

Also see Ministerial Order M191/94, the Student Progress Report Order (PDF) and Ministerial Order M205/95, the Graduation Requirements Order (PDF).

Policy in full

British Columbia is a diverse society. People from all parts of the globe contribute to the social, cultural, and linguistic fabric of our province. This diversity is mirrored in our schools’ population, in the contributions made and in the unique needs that must be addressed.

Some students enrolling in BC schools have come from refugee backgrounds. Many of these families arrive in Canada after overcoming great obstacles and adversity. Once in BC, they face the challenges of adapting to a new society and school system. Some refugee students must confront additional difficulties if they have received little formal schooling or are coping with emotional trauma. At the same time, refugee families bring with them strengths, abilities, and qualities to share, with hope of thriving in their new home country. See Students from Refugee Backgrounds: A Guide for Teachers and Schools (PDF, 1.54MB) for more information.

Some refugee students may be eligible for supplementary English Language Learning (ELL) support services. These ELL services enable students whose primary language(s)at home are not English to develop their individual potential within B.C.’s school system. Refugee students must meet the eligibility criteria in the English Language Learning Funding Policy in order for school districts to report these students to the ministry for ELL supplementary funding. Students enrolled in ELL programs are also known as English language learners.

Educational Programs:

Like all school-age students, students who are refugees should be offered an education program that follows provincial curriculum and graduation requirements.

For those students enrolled in ELL, schools may need to adapt instructional and assessment methods, provide more time, and/or adapt educational materials to give these students the greatest opportunity possible to achieve the learning outcomes of the provincial curriculum. Please refer to the ELL Policy for important guidelines on ELL programs.


The reporting requirements for students who are refugees are the same as for all students. These requirements are described in the Student Progress Report Order (PDF).
See the reporting requirements for English language learners on the ELL Policy page.


See Policy Document: K-12 Funding – Newcomer Refugees.

Procedures related to policy

Students who are refugees and who are enrolled in a BC public standard or alternate school as at September 30 should be reported on the Form 1701 for September. Students who are refugees and who are enrolled in a BC public standard or alternate school for the first time after September 30 and by the February enrolment date in a given school year should be reported on the Form 1701 for February.

For February enrolment only, verify the newcomer students were not already reported to the ministry in any other previous enrolment data collection. Newcomer refugee students who were reported for funding purposes in a previous enrolment data collection will not be recognised for additional funding in the February data collection. Students who are newcomer refugees need to be specifically identified as such on the February Form 1701 submission. See Policy Document: K-12 Funding – Newcomer Refugees.

Ensure these students have current immigration documentation indicating recent arrival in Canada in the refugee class. Ensure a copy of the immigration documentation is in the student’s file, clearly indicating refugee status.

Include students who are refugee claimants. As they do not yet have official refugee status, include a copy of their refugee protection claimant documentation in the student file.

Students who are refugees and who are eligible for ELL services according to the ELL eligibility criteria in the ELL Policy should be reported on the Form 1701. See the English Language Learning Policy for the detailed criteria.