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Frequently Asked Questions


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

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

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.

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.

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

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

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).

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.

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.

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

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.

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)

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.

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.

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

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.

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

All Vive residents must abide by our house rules:
Expectations for Vive Residents/House Rules.

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.

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