Services in Ontario - Making a refugee claim
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 InformationPhone 416-979-1446 Toll-free 1-800-668-8258 TTY 416-598-8867 Toll-free TTY TTY (teletypewriter) – Use Bell’s Relay Service: 1 800 855 0511
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
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.
Contact InformationPhone 416-979-1446 Toll-free 1-800-668-8258 TTY 416-598-8867 Toll-free TTY 1-866-641-8867
During the COVID-19 situation, many community legal clinics are no longer meeting with people in person, but will provide services over the phone. Call ahead for more information.
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
- some employment issues
Some clinics can help with immigration and refugee 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:
- Advocacy Centre for the Elderly
- Aboriginal Legal Services
- ARCH Disability Law Centre
- Black Legal Action Centre
- Centre Francophone du Grand Toronto
- Chinese and South Asian Legal Clinic
- Centre for Spanish Speaking Peoples
- HIV & AIDS Legal Clinic Ontario
- Justice for Children and Youth
- South Asian Legal Clinic of Ontario
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.
Ontario Legal Information Centre
Contact InformationPhone 613-842-7462 Toll-free 1-844-343-7462
Law Society of Ontario – Lawyer and Paralegal Directory
Francophone legal advice lines
LAO has 4 free regional advice lines that can give legal information and advice in French over the telephone to people living in:
- Eastern Ontario
- Northern Ontario, and parts of central Ontario including:
- Parry Sound
- Muskoka and Kawartha Lakes regions
- Greater Toronto Area
- Southwestern Ontario
The advice lines do not help with family law or criminal law matters.
FCJ Refugee Centre
Contact InformationPhone 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
Contact InformationToll-free 1-866-902-4993
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