APPELLANTS' GUIDE TO ALTERNATIVE DISPUTE RESOLUTION CONFERENCE REGARDING SPONSORSHIP APPEALS
What is an ADR Conference?
An Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Conference is not a regular appeal hearing. It is an informal meeting between you and an official from Canada Border Services Agency, who is referred to as Minister's counsel. Minister's counsel represents the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC). A Dispute Resolution Officer (DRO) from the Immigration Appeal Division (IAD) will work with the Minister's counsel and you to try to resolve your case simply, quickly, and fairly. If the case is resolved through the ADR Conference, a hearing will not be needed. An ADR can be resolved through the Minister consenting to your case or, alternatively, you may decide to withdraw your appeal.
Who will attend the ADR Conference?
You must attend the ADR Conference in person at the scheduled time. A lawyer, an immigration consultant, or someone else who is assisting you, can attend with you if you wish. Attending the ADR Conference will be:
- you (and anyone who is representing you);
- Minister's counsel, and
- the DRO, who is a tribunal officer or a member of the IAD.
Who will make decisions at the ADR Conference?
After reviewing your file and meeting with you at the ADR Conference, Minister's counsel may agree that your appeal should be settled in your favour. If Minister's counsel does not agree to settle in your favour, you may decide to withdraw your appeal or proceed to a hearing. The DRO will guide the meeting and encourage the parties to share information but will not decide the result.
How is an ADR Conference different from a hearing?
An ADR Conference is an informal meeting. At an ADR Conference, each party (that is, you and CIC) says why the appeal should be allowed or not. You may be asked questions at the ADR Conference. If you have counsel at the ADR Conference, you will tell your story and counsel will help you and provide advice. The ADR Conference will take about one hour to finish. Hearings usually take three hours or more.
Is the ADR Conference confidential?
Yes, it is. If your case does not settle (that is, resolve) at the ADR Conference, what was said there cannot be used by either party against the other party during a later hearing. However, information you provide can be disclosed if it is independently available, or if it relates to an offence under Immigration legislation or a breach of the Immigration Appeal Division Rules, or if you consent to disclosure. Documents that you use for the ADR Conference will not go on the hearing file unless you agree. Both you and Minister's counsel may take notes at the ADR Conference. Your counsel and Minister's counsel may share the information they get through this process with their colleagues or co-workers. DROs will not share information with members who could hear your case if it does not resolve. An agreement to resolve the appeal is not confidential.
How should I prepare for the ADR Conference?
Re-read the refusal letter and the notes from the interview with the visa officer, and be prepared to tell the Minister's counsel and DRO why you think your appeal should be allowed. This could include any mistakes you believe were made in handling your case, why it is important to have your family member join you in Canada, or any special circumstances in your case. If you plan to refer to any written information or documents that are not already in the file, you must provide them to Minister's counsel and the DRO no later than 10 days before the ADR Conference.
What do I do if I need an interpreter?
If you need an interpreter, you must call the DRO immediately, and tell them the language and dialect that you need interpreted.
What will happen at the ADR Conference?
- The DRO will make an opening statement and give you further details about the process.
- The DRO and Minister's counsel will ask you some questions about your case and ask you to explain why you think your appeal should be allowed.
- The DRO may meet separately with Minister's counsel, and separately with you to discuss whether the case can be resolved.
- The DRO may provide you and Minister's counsel with an opinion as to the strengths and weaknesses of your case.
- If Minister's counsel agrees that your appeal should be allowed, a Summary of Agreement will be prepared. A member of the Immigration Appeal Division must approve each settlement. Once approved, a decision allowing your appeal will be issued. Your sponsorship application will then continue to be processed by the Visa Office.
- If Minister's counsel does not agree that your appeal be allowed, he or she will leave the ADR. At this point the DRO will provide an objective assessment of your case which may include a discussion of the factors to consider when you and your counsel choose whether to withdraw your appeal or proceed to a hearing.
- If you choose to go ahead with a hearing, the DRO will arrange for a hearing date.