Effective Date: September 18, 2015
The Immigration and Refugee Protection ActNote 1 (IRPA) provides that the Refugee Protection Division (RPD or the Division) of the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB) may allow a claim for refugee protection without a hearing, in certain situations.
This policy establishes a process whereby claims made by claimants who are nationals of certain countries may be determined to be a Convention refugee or a person in need of protection without a hearing. This process is commonly known as the expedited process.The expedited process is a method the RPD uses to resolve refugee claims fairly and efficiently.
The IRB has been expediting the processing of refugee claims since the early 1990s. A formal policy on expedited proceedings was first issued in 2001, and subsequently updated in 2005.Note 2
In December 2012, refugee reform provisions that amended the IRPA came into force. These amendments significantly modified the refugee determination process at the IRB. Specifically, the amendments allowed for regulatory time limits to be implemented which require refugee claims be heard within 30, 45, or 60 days, with limited exceptions.Note 3 Prior to the 2012 reforms, refugee claim hearings were not subject to time limits.
With the refugee reforms of 2012, the former expedited process was discontinued, in order to implement the reforms, including meeting the regulatory time limits for holding refugee hearings. The RPD is now implementing the expedited process with the necessary modifications to reflect the realities of the new refugee determination process.
III. LEGISLATIVE AUTHORITY
Paragraph 170(f) of the IRPANote 4 provides that the RPD may allow a claim for refugee protection without a hearing, unless the Minister has notified the Division of the Minister’s intention to intervene within the time limit set out in the Refugee Protection Division RulesNote 5 (RPD Rules or the rules). That time limit (“no later than 10 days after the day on which the Minister receives the Basis of Claim Form”) is set out in RPD Rule 23.Note 6
Further, subsection 162(2) of the IRPA directs that “Each Division shall deal with all proceedings before it as informally and quickly as the circumstances and the considerations of fairness and natural justice permit.”
Therefore, the Chairperson has established this policy persuant to his authority under paragraphs 159(1)(a), (f) and (g) of the IRPA.
The following principles form the foundation for this policy:
- Member Independence: Every refugee claim, including those decided under this policy, is decided by an independent RPD member.The expedited process is principally a case management tool used to provide efficient administrative justice. It does not influence the adjudication of the merits of a claim for refugee protection. It is the responsibility of the member to decide whether to accept a claim without a hearing based solely on the member’s review of the file and his or her opinion on the merits of the individual claim.
- Opportunity for parties to be heard: Parties must be given a reasonable opportunity to be heard. Therefore, where a member determines that a claim cannot be accepted through the expedited process without a hearing, the claimant will have an opportunity to present his or her case at a hearing. The fact that the claim was initially selected for the expedited process, but was ultimately sent for a hearing, does not impact the adjudication of the merits of the claim.
The Minister will be given notice where a claim is streamed into the expedited process. As required by paragraph 170(f) of the IRPA and RPD Rule 23, if the Minister intervenes within the time limit set out in Rule 23, the claim is not eligible to be decided under this policy. If the Minister intervenes after the time limit set out in Rule 23, the claim will not be decided through this expedited process where the Notice of Intervention provided under RPD Rule 29 indicates the Minister’s intention to intervene in person.
- System Integrity: Allowing claims without a hearing pursuant to paragraph 170(f) of the IRPA is the exception at the RPD, and will be carried out only in appropriate claims identified under this policy. Therefore, only claims streamed into the expedited process under this policy will be decided without a hearing, pursuant to paragraph 170(f) of the IRPA.Note 7 Members will decide all other claims following a hearing, as required under paragraph 170(b) of the IRPA.
Further, members will not decide claims without a hearing under this policy unless:
- there are no issues that should be brought to the attention of the Minister;
- there are no issues related to the claimant’s identity which require further examination;
- there are no serious credibility issues that arise from the documents in the file; and
- the information given by the claimant is consistent with information about conditions in their country of nationality and establishes that the claimant is a Convention refugee or a person in need of protection.
- Public Safety: All refugee claimants undergo security checks, referred to as front-end security screening (FESS). Security screening is conducted by the Canada Border Services Agency in partnership with the Canadian Security Intelligence Service. In the interest of public security, and in conformity with the Chairperson’s Instructions Governing the Management of Refugee Protection Claims Awaiting Front-end Security Screening,Note 8 no claim will be accepted under this policy before the IRB receives confirmation that security screening has been completed.
Part 1: Designation of countries as being suitable for consideration under the expedited process
Taking into consideration the RPD’s operational capacity, the Deputy Chairperson, RPD, may designate countries as being suitable for consideration under this policy. The designation will be based on whether or not claims from the country are appropriate for consideration without a hearing, and may include such factors as:
- the recent acceptance rate for claims from the country;
- the fact that claims from the country do not generally involve complex issues; and
- the volume of cases heard by the RPD involving the country.
The Deputy Chairperson may remove a country from the list of countries to be processed under this policy, having regard to the considerations set out above.
Once a country is designated or is removed from consideration, the Division will provide notice through the IRB website or through any other means it deems appropriate to facilitate public access to it.
Part 2: Processing claims via the expedited process
Following designation of a country as being suitable for consideration under the expedited process, individual claims will be processed in the following manner:
- The RPD registry will identify whether a claim relates to a claimant who is a national of a country designated under this policy or relates to a stateless claimant whose country of former habitual residence is designated under this policy. If so, the claim is eligible to be processed under this policy unless:
- the claimant is also a national of another country or has another country of former habitual residence;
- the claim is joined with that of another claimant who is not a national of a country designated under this policy;
- the Minister has been notified of a possibility of an integrity issue, exclusion, inadmissibility, or ineligibility pursuant to RPD Rules 26, 27, or 28; or
- the Minister has indicated an intention to intervene in person.
- If any of the circumstances set out above arise after the claim has been streamed into the expedited process, the claim will no longer be eligible to be decided under this policy and will proceed to a regular hearing.
- Once the claim has been identified as being eligible to be processed under this policy, the registry will send a letter to the claimant, or to the claimant’s counsel of record, stating that the claim has been selected for processing under this policy. The claimant will be asked to provide supporting documents, if desired. This letter will be copied to the Minister such that they are informed that the claim has been selected for processing under this policy, and a decision may be rendered without a hearing.
- The claimant will also be provided a confirmation form. The form will be signed by the claimant or his or her counsel of record certifying that the claimant does not wish to provide further documents for the purpose of the expedited process. This confirmation is without prejudice to providing further documents at any time before a final decision is reached, subject to any legislative requirements
- Following receipt of the confirmation form, the file will be assigned to a member.
- Subject to any legislative limitations or other considerations set out in this policy, a member may then accept the claim without a hearing based on the evidence in the file, if the member determines it is appropriate to do so. Written reasons will be issued in support of the decision, as required by the IRPA and the RPD Rules. If the member determines that it is not appropriate to make a positive decision based on the evidence in the file, the claim will proceed to its scheduled hearing, or if no hearing is then scheduled, one will be scheduled.
- The timeliness with which the RPD will be able to notify the claimant of a decision will depend, in part, on how quickly the claimant provides evidence to the RPD in support of his or her claim and on how quickly confirmation of security screening is received.
- The RPD will notify the claimant as soon as practicable when a decision has been rendered. Claimants are expected to appear at a scheduled hearing if they have not received notice that a decision has been made under this policy.
The Deputy Chairperson of the RPD is responsible for the implementation of this policy.
Program monitoring and evaluation of this policy will be carried out by the Deputy Chairperson of the RPD with the support of the Division and the Policy, Planning and Research Branch.
For information contact:
Office of the Deputy Chairperson, Refugee Protection Division
Canada Building (Minto Place)
344 Slater Street, 11th Floor
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0K1
Available in English and French on the IRB's website.
IX. EFFECTIVE DATE
This policy is effective on the date it is signed.