While each division of the IRB is responsible for making decisions on different immigration or refugee matters, they all follow an administrative tribunal process similar to what happens in a court, though less formal. The process is flexible and can take many forms so long as it ensures that the IRB makes well-reasoned, efficient and fair decisions. The IRB tribunal process is based on Canadian law, Canada's international obligations and Canada's humanitarian traditions.
In the tribunal process:
- A person appearing before the IRB has the right to be represented, at his or her own expense, by counsel a lawyer, immigration consultant, trusted advisor or family member.
- A person has the right to be heard and to present evidence and arguments to an impartial decision-maker.
- Hearings are usually held in person. They can also be held by videoconference, telephone or other means that allow for a fair hearing.
- Proceedings may be in English or French and a person appearing before the IRB may also use an interpreter.
- All testimony is given under oath (by swearing on a holy book) or by affirmation (a solemn promise to tell the truth).
- The people who hear the cases and make the decisions are called members. In most cases, one member hears the case.
- Hearings of refugee claims are usually held in private.
- Other hearings are usually open to the public. That means media or members of the public may observe hearings or get information about a case.
- The setting and procedures for hearings are generally informal, so evidence is not limited by technical or legal rules.
- Each division has rules on procedures. The rules cover matters such as time limits, evidence, documents and other responsibilities of counsel or the people appearing before the IRB.
- All decisions are based on the evidence provided and the law.
- Members must provide reasons for final decisions. Sometimes the member may not write out the reasons, but may state them at the end of the hearing. Or, sometimes the member may write out the reasons for the decision later, after the hearing.
- The person appearing before the IRB, the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, or the Minister of Public Safety may apply to the Federal Court of Canada for a judicial review of an IRB decision. However, the person or the Ministers' representative must first obtain the Court's permission. This is called leave.
Immigration Appeal Division