Waiting for a refugee protection hearing? Here’s what you should know

Deciding your claim

All refugee claimants receive a hearing at the Refugee Protection Division (RPD) within the IRB (Immigration Refugee Board of Canada). A decision-maker will listen to your story at the hearing and will either accept or reject your claim for protection. For more information about preparing for your hearing and the elements that impact a decision, please see the Claimant’s Kit.

If you submitted your claim before December 15, 2012, visit the Legacy Task Force page.

If you submitted your claim on or after December 15, 2012, please read the information below:

Scheduling – current situation

The Refugee Protection Division is currently experiencing a high influx of claims as well as a mounting backlog of claims. Although the Refugee Protection Division has over 120 decision-makers, there are currently over 30,000 claims waiting to be heard, which means that not all claims can be heard right away.

If your hearing is postponed, it may take several months before it can be rescheduled. We track all pending claims carefully and you will be scheduled for a hearing as soon as we have a hearing slot available.

The following Frequently Asked Questions may give you a better sense of what to expect in terms of scheduling.

Why do some hearings get postponed? How does the RPD decide which claims go forward?

We are scheduling cases to be as efficient as possible. Cases that are “ready to proceed” are more likely to go forward. This means that all requested documents have been filed. If your case is not ready to proceed, or we do not have capacity hearing slot available, your hearing may be postponed. Hearings can be postponed for a variety of reasons, including, for example, availability of interpreter or member.

We contact you or your counsel as soon as possible when we know that a hearing must be postponed.

My hearing has been postponed. When will I get a hearing?

We will contact you or your counsel when we are ready to reschedule your hearing. This may take several months, because of the large number of claims that are waiting. We are doing everything possible to be efficient and schedule as many claims as possible, while also making sure that every claimant receives a fair hearing. We understand that these delays may be stressful to you and your family.

Please remember to update your contact information if you change your address, phone number, or counsel.

I am recently in Canada as an irregular arrival from the United States. I have not heard anything about my hearing. When will it be scheduled?

Only once your claim has been referred to the IRB by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) or the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), will you be scheduled for a hearing. If you have not yet had your eligibility interview with IRCC or CBSA, your claim has not been referred. The IRB is not involved at this stage so you should contact the IRCC or CBSA.

The IRB is coordinating with other government departments and agencies as well as the stakeholder community to help ensure the refugee determination system works effectively, in spite of this sudden influx of new claims.

Is there anything I can do to move things along more quickly?

To avoid additional delays, it is important to ensure that you have submitted all the required documentation and provided everything that has been requested of you.

If there are exceptional reasons as to why you believe your claim should to be heard on an urgent basis, you or your counsel can make an application in writing to ask to have your claim scheduled. A decision-maker will then decide if your hearing can be scheduled earlier. The procedure for making an application is explained in the RPD Rules (Rule 50).

I understand that you are also scheduling short hearings and have expedited processes. How can I be included in those?

Every case is looked at on its own merits (based on the specific facts of the case) and the same criteria are applied in each decision. An RPD decision-maker will decide the hearing length or type based on the details of the case. You cannot make a request to have a short hearing or to have your case included in the expedited process.

Claims from certain countries can be decided through the expedited process (accepted by a decision-maker without a hearing). These types of claims appear to be straightforward, with clear and reliable evidence submitted to support them.

Claims may also be scheduled for short hearings when the decision-maker anticipates that fewer questions will be required to address the issues and make a decision.