How will my refugee claim happen?

Starting January 18, 2021, the Refugee Board is scheduling all refugee hearings to be heard remotely. A remote hearing is held by video and is called a videoconference.

The Refugee Board will hold some in-person hearings only for urgent or sensitive cases. Examples of urgent cases include refugee claims made by minors or persons with disabilities. If you have an in-person hearing scheduled, the Refugee Board will contact you to discuss next steps.

Most in-person hearings aren’t expected to resume until September 2021 at the earliest.

It’s important to discuss your situation with your lawyer. If you don’t have a lawyer, find out about getting legal help here.

Remote hearings

Remote hearings are held by videoconference using software called Microsoft Teams. You can use the software on a web browser or download Microsoft Teams on your device or computer. Your Notice to Appear includes instructions about using this technology. The Board member and your lawyer will also participate this way.

Things to think about

To participate in the hearing, you will need:

  • access to a reliable device or computer with a camera and microphone
  • a stable internet connection
  • access to Microsoft Teams, the program used for remote hearings, either through a web browser or by downloading it on your device or computer
  • a private space where you feel comfortable and can speak without interruption

If you have a witness that you want to give at your hearing, ask them the same questions. If your witness doesn’t have access to reliable computer equipment, they can participate by telephone. They can also prepare a written statement that you or your lawyer can submit to the Refugee board before your hearing.

Talk to your lawyer about what is best for you. Your lawyer might have a private space and equipment at their office that you can use for your hearing.  

Your right to a fair hearing

The most important thing is that your hearing is fair. You need to be able to hear and be heard clearly. You also need to be able to understand the interpreter, if you are using one. You must be able to hear the interpreter clearly and they must hear and translate every word you say.

If your hearing has started and you don’t think it’s fair because you can’t hear or participate well, you or your lawyer should ask the Board member to stop the hearing until any issues can be fixed. You have the right to raise concerns. You can put your hand up to show that you have a concern. You can also say out loud that there is a problem. It’s important to state your concerns during the hearing because if your claim is refused, you can mention this when you ask the Federal Court to review the decision.

Submitting documents before your hearing

The Refugee Board will not accept documents in person at this time.  You also don’t have to submit your original BOC. Find out more about the Refugee Board’s temporary changes here.

Documents must be submitted electronically using:

  • Canada Post’s epost – You or your legal representative must register with Canada Post. See the Instruction Guide and online form to register.
  • My Case – Only your legal representative can apply to become a registered My Case user.

If you can’t submit documents electronically, you can send documents to the Refugee Board by email or by fax. The amount of pages you can send by fax has been increased to 50 pages.

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