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.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the majority of refugee hearings at the Immigration and Refugee Board – Refugee Protection Division (IRB-RPD) are currently being held virtually on Microsoft Teams.
The IRB-RPD will tell you what format your hearing will take and provide instructions for your hearing in the Notice to Appear letter. Click below to read about the different types of hearings
currently being used.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
The majority of hearings from now until approximately September 2021 will be virtual hearings, which take place online on Microsoft Teams. The IRB-RPD has made this change in order to maintain safety during the COVID-19 pandemic. You can read more about virtual hearings in the IRB-RPD Virtual Hearings Guide. Only a select few urgent and particularly sensitive cases will be held in-person during this time. If you have a compelling reason why you feel an in-person hearing is more appropriate for you, speak to your lawyer if you have one, or write to the IRB-RPD with your reasons. You can find the contact information for the different IRB-RPD regions here.
There are a few things you should do in order to prepare for your virtual hearing:
More tips can be found in the IRB-RPD Virtual Hearings Guide.
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.
Attend a virtual READY Tour to learn what to expect at your refugee hearing and how to prepare. READY Tours allow you to learn what takes place on your hearing day, 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.
If you are having a virtual hearing, make sure you feel comfortable with the format and the technology. Here are some useful resources to help you prepare for your virtual hearing:
Important steps are in place to keep everyone safe during the pandemic. Make sure you review all IRB safety procedures before attending an in-person hearing:
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: