Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

Who is an asylum seeker?

An asylum seeker is someone who leaves their own country, due to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion, and who travels to another country hoping that the government will protect them and allow them to live there

Can I travel to Vive for assistance?

While you may travel to Vive if you qualify for an exception to the Safe Third Country Agreement and intend to file an asylum claim in Canada, you should not plan to stay at the shelter. We are at capacity and will not be able to provide you any accommodation. Vive staff will not be able to provide any assistance for a US asylum claim. The only exception will be if you contact staff at and you get a response directly inviting you come to Vive. If you come to Vive spontaneously we can only offer a brief consultation. You will need to find your own accommodation. Many people find this is very difficult and they struggle to know where to go where there is not a apace available at Vive for them or their family.

Who is a refugee?

Immigration law uses the definition from the United Nations of a Convention refugee. Convention refugees have experienced persecution or have grounds for fearing future persecution in their home country because of their:

  • Race
  • Religion
  • Nationality
  • Membership in a particular social group
  • Political opinion

What is the difference between an asylum seeker and a refugee?

A refugee has an official status from the United Nations upon entering the country in which they are resettled. An asylum seeker is already in a non-country of origin in which they then seek to go through the legal process of claiming asylum so they do not have to return home.

Do all asylum seekers receive legal status in the U.S.?

Not all asylum seekers are granted status. They must wait until they present their cases to government officials, who then decide whether or not they are allowed to remain in the U.S.

Are asylum seekers considered legal here in the U.S. during this process?

Yes, during the proceedings, asylum seekers are legally permitted to reside in the U.S. throughout the duration of their case.

Who Is An Anchor Relative?

An anchor relative is a person who:

  • Lives in Canada

AND who is one of the following:

  • Spouse (of the same or opposite sex) or common-law partner (a person of the same or opposite sex with whom you are cohabiting in a conjugal relationship and have cohabited for at least one year)
  • Parent or legal guardian
  • Brother or sister
  • Child
  • Grandparent
  • Grandchild
  • Aunt or uncle
  • Nephew or niece

PLEASE NOTE: COUSINS are NOT ELIGIBILE to be anchor relatives.

ALSO: Half-siblings are considered the same as full siblings. Therefore, a half-brother or half-sister can be an anchor relative. An aunt or uncle who is a half-brother or half-sister of a parent can also be an anchor relative.

Click here to view an Anchor Relative Relationship Diagram

Click here for the Safe Third Country Agreement

What is Vive?

Vive is a program of Jericho Road Community Health Center, a nonprofit, non-government organization. Vive is not affiliated with any government or governmental agency, including the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS, formerly INS) or Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) or the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA).

Where is Vive located?

We are located at 50 Wyoming Avenue in Buffalo, New York, USA. From downtown Buffalo, take Rt. 33 East to the Humboldt Parkway exit. Turn right at the second light onto East Ferry. Take East Ferry for about a mile and turn left on Wyoming (street after Moselle light, after a big church on the left). Vive is located in the old school, three doors past the church.

Why Buffalo?

Due to our closeness to the Canadian border, access to affordable housing, and an already vibrant refugee community, Buffalo receives a significant number of asylum seekers.

How do I travel to Vive?

The safest way to travel to Vive is by private car. A taxi can be taken to Vive from Greater Buffalo International Airport or from the bus or train station. You have certain rights if you are approached by authorities while traveling.

American Civil Liberties Union – Know Your Rights Pamphlets

What time of day should I come to Vive?

Registration takes place on weekdays between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. If you arrive after registration hours, you may have to wait until the following day to be interviewed. The office is closed on Saturdays and Sundays.

What happens after I enter Canada (for Canada-bound refugees)?

Once you are in Canada, you will have to go through a process to determine the validity of your refugee claim. This process can take several months to years to complete. While you are going through the process, you will be able to live and work in Canada. The Peace Bridge Newcomer Centre is an organization that can help you find the support you need, wherever you end up living in Canda. Their website is

FAQ (For Referral Agencies)

Are you currently accepting people?

We do not have any capacity to accept anyone at Vive Shelter. We have absolutely no spaces available for families or single individuals at this time.

We ask that you do not send anyone to Vive unless you have directly communicated with a staff member and have verified availability. If you send someone to Vive without verification they will be screened at arrival and will be directed elsewhere. There is no guarantee of a bed locally. Sending someone to Vive without a confirmed bed puts them in a risky situation. Buffalo cold seasons are long and can be dangerous. Be thoughtful how you refer.

What kinds of services do you offer?

We provide people with physical shelter, food, clothing, medical services, and legal support. We cannot guarantee legal representation for all residents, but we can help with referrals to local pro bono attorneys and we can provide pro se support if residents are not represented.

We are able to sponsor people who are detained.

Is there a waitlist to receive your services?

Yes. This is fluid and depends on bed space. Please contact Vive to find out waiting list status.

Do you accept all kinds of people? If not, who do you accept?

We only accept people who do not have permanent immigration status in the United States. Residents at Vive must be actively pursuing a form of permanent status in either the US or Canada.

We are unable to support unaccompanied minors.

What are your intake procedures like?

Intake is initiated by contacting Vive by email ( or phone (716-892-4354).

If making a donation to Vive, please do so on our donation page or by sending a check to 184 Barton St, Buffalo, NY 14213.  Please make checks payable to Jericho Road Community Health Center and indicate Vive in the memo.

Additional questions not answered here?
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