Services in Ontario - Getting help in Refugee law

Immigration Detention Representation Program

The Immigration Detention Representation Program (IDRP) is a free service available from Legal Aid Ontario (LAO). It’s for anyone in immigration detention in Ontario who needs representation at a detention review hearing.

Legal Aid Ontario (LAO) – Immigration/refugee law services


Contact Information

Phone: 416-979-1446 Toll-free: 1-800-668-8258 TTY: 711

LAO helps people with low incomes with some immigration and refugee problems. For example, you might be able to get help:

  • if you’re detained for immigration reasons
  • to complete a Basis of Claim form
  • with your refugee hearing,
  • to prepare an appeal or application for judicial review,
  • with cessation or vacation hearings,
  • to prepare for a Pre-Removal Risk Assessment (PRRA)

To get help from LAO, you can:

  • call their free telephone line that lets you talk to a lawyer for up to 20 minutes to get information and general advice
  • apply for a legal aid certificate if you have a low income and if your legal issue is one that LAO covers
  • contact one of the Refugee Law staff offices in Hamilton, Ottawa, and Toronto

Legal Aid Ontario (LAO) – Refugee Law Offices


Contact Information

Phone: 416-977-8111 Toll-free: 1-800-668-8258 TTY: 711

LAO funds Refugee Law Offices to help people mainly living in Toronto, Hamilton, and Ottawa who want to make a refugee claim. They can represent refugee claimants who qualify for a legal aid certificate.

To qualify for legal aid, you must show that you have a low income by giving information about your income, property, and savings. And, your refugee law issue must be one that LAO covers.

They also offer other services, for example, representing people at detention reviews. RLO staff can also refer you to a lawyer who can represent you using a legal aid certificate, if you qualify.

Legal clinics


Contact Information

Phone: 416-979-1446 Toll-free: 1-800-668-8258 TTY: 416-598-8867 Toll-free TTY: 1-866-641-8867

Legal Aid Ontario funds legal clinics across Ontario. There are two types of legal clinics: community legal clinics and specialty legal clinics.

Community legal clinics provide free legal services to people with low incomes who live in their area. Most help with:

  • Ontario Works and the Ontario Disability Support Program
  • tenants’ rights
  • the Canada Pension Plan, Old Age Security, and the Guaranteed Income Supplement
  • employment problems

Some clinics can help with immigration and refugee problems or debt and consumer problems.

Search for the clinic in your area using your postal code.

Some specialty legal clinics provide free legal services to specific groups of people with low incomes:

Some specialty legal clinics provide free legal services in only certain areas of law:

Law Society Referral Service

The Law Society of Ontario has on online Law Society Referral Service that gives you the name of a lawyer or licensed paralegal who will give free legal advice for up to 30 minutes in any area of law.

If you can’t wait for a legal representative to call you back, or if you don’t have a call-back number, email Or, if you’re in crisis or in custody, call 1-855-947-5255 or 416-947-5255, Monday to Friday, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.

Law Society of Ontario – Lawyer and Paralegal Directory

The directory lists all lawyers and paralegals licensed to give legal services in Ontario. You can search by name, address or postal code, language, and area of law. You can also search for services offered in French and for unbundled services.

FCJ Refugee Centre


Contact Information

Phone: 416-469-9754

The FCJ Refugee Centre has services for refugees and others who are at risk because of their immigration status. They can:

  • help with paperwork, translation, and interpretation
  • make referals to immigration and refugee lawyers
  • give information about social services, skills development, and counselling

They also have free information sessions about hearings and appealing to the Refugee Appeal Division (RAD).

First Contact Ontario

The Canadian Red Cross First Contact Program has services to help refugees. This includes: 

  • information about emergency shelter, social services, legal and health services
  • information about the refugee process, Interim Federal Health coverage, legal aid, the shelter system, social services, English classes, work permits, and more
  • 24/7 telephone information and referral services



JusticeNet is a not-for-profit organization that can help people find legal services when their income is too high for legal aid and too low to afford legal fees. Their website has a list of lawyers, paralegals, and mediators who charge reduced fees based on your income and the size of your family. You must register and pay a small fee to use their services.

Ontario Coalition of Service Providers for Refugee Claimants

This website has a list of settlement organizations that can help people making a refugee claim.

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