Refugee Hearings
During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Navigating the refugee claim process can be complex, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. The information and resources below will help you understand how COVID-19 is impacting the refugee claim process and better prepare for your refugee hearing.

What your hearing might look like during the COVID-19 pandemic

The Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada – Refugee Protection Division (IRB-RPD) has expanded the methods for conducting hearings during the pandemic. You may have an in-person hearing, a videoconference hearing, a remote hearing, or no hearing at all. The IRB-RPD will tell you which format will be used for your case.

You are in the Immigration and Refugee Board hearing room with all participants. Health and safety measures are in place, including plexiglass barriers and masks.
In Person Hearing
You are in the Immigration and Refugee Board hearing room with your lawyer, however, the Board Member joins via videoconference.
Videoconference Hearing
You connect remotely via Microsoft Teams from your lawyer’s office or your home. The Board Member and other participants also connect remotely from their office or home. You will only have a remote hearing if you consent and are comfortable with the remote format.
Remote Hearing
You may not have a hearing if your case is selected for the File Review Process. The Board Member will consider your case and documentary evidence and may make a positive decision without a hearing taking place. If the Board Member has additional questions your claim may go to a hearing. See more about the kinds of cases selected for the File Review Process here: Less Complex Claims
File Review Process

Frequently asked Questions:

You may have questions about the refugee hearing process during the pandemic. These are some of the most common questions. If you have additional questions that are not answered here please email ready@refugeeclaim.ca.

This is the biggest question many refugee claimants are asking. The IRB-RPD has resumed in-person hearings and is working to schedule hearings as efficiently as possible, including those that were cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It isn’t possible to say exactly when your hearing will be, as there are many factors that affect the scheduling of hearings. Your case has not been forgotten. Contact your lawyer to discuss this further if you have concerns.
Your hearing may be either in person or by video. The IRB-RPD will tell you what format will be used for your hearing. If your case is selected for a remote hearing, you will be asked whether or not you consent to proceeding with the remote format. Remote hearings will not be considered suitable if you do not have legal representation, if the Minister’s counsel is intervening in your case, or if there are complex issues in your case. If you have a preference for either an in-person or remote hearing you should speak to your lawyer.
No. Children under 18 are not required to attend the hearing. This is to promote physical distancing in the hearing room. The IRB-RPD will notify you if your child is required to attend. If you plan to bring your child to the hearing, you should write to the IRB-RPD at least 10 days prior to your hearing to let them know. This ensures that physical distancing requirements can be met at your hearing.
You can provide documents by mail, fax, epost, or email. Until further notice, in-person delivery of documents to the IRB-RPD is not allowed. Information about how to send documents by email can be found under section 2 of this IRB webpage. Information about how to use epost can be found in this IRB practice notice. The page limit for faxing documents has increased from 20 to 50.
If your address or contact information changes, you need to let the IRB-RPD know as soon as possible. You can complete the Notification of Client Contact Information form and submit it to the IRB-RPD by mail, fax, epost or email. See more information about how to send documents in the question above.

What to expect if you have a hearing at the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) building

Important steps are in place to keep everyone safe during the pandemic. Make sure you review all IRB safety procedures before attending your hearing:

Where to find support

Refugee Hearing Preparation Guide

RHPG

Personal, practical, and legal support is important for your refugee claim, especially during the pandemic. Ensure you have downloaded the Refugee Hearing Preparation Guide in your language and for your city. The back of your Guide contains contact information for local organizations that can help you navigate the refugee claim process during the COVID-19 pandemic.

READY Tours

READY Tours

Attend a virtual READY Tour to learn what to expect at your refugee hearing and how to prepare. READY Tours allow you to visualize the hearing room, hear from an Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada – Refugee Protection Division staff member about what your hearing will be like, and ask any questions you have about the hearing process.

Special notices from the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada – Refugee Protection Division (IRB-RPD)

The IRB-RPD has made announcements about changes affecting the refugee claim process during the pandemic. These notices cover updates to how hearings are operating, timelines for filing important documents, and changes to the ways you can submit your documents. These are some of the most recent notices:

  • The Resumption of In-Person Hearings: This notice contains important information about protocols for in-person hearings, submission of documents to the IRB-RPD during the pandemic, and changes to the rules regarding signatures and original documents.
    See more information here.
  • Extensions for Filing Basis of Claim Forms: The IRB-RPD has extended the time limit for filing your Basis of Claim form for people who have claimed refugee status at the Port of Entry after July 4, 2020.
    See more information here.
  • Submitting documents through Canada Post epost Connect: The IRB-RPD is allowing you to submit and receive documents electronically through Canada Post epost Connect.
    See more information here.