Find out about legal aid for people with low incomes

Where can I get legal advice and help with a problem about immigration status in Canada?
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Find out about legal aid for people with low incomes

If your income is low enough, you may be able to get help from Legal Aid Ontario (LAO). You have to give LAO information about any income, property, or savings that you have so they can decide if you meet their financial eligibility rules.

Legal aid certificates

LAO gives out legal aid certificates to pay lawyers for specific services. They don't pay for the services of consultants who are not lawyers.

If you get a legal aid certificate, a lawyer can charge LAO for up to a certain number of hours for the work that the certificate is for.

Staff offices

LAO has staff offices in Hamilton, Ottawa, and Toronto. Lawyers at these offices can represent some refugee claimants who qualify for legal aid services. They may also be able to provide other immigration law services that LAO covers, for example, representing people at detention reviews.

What LAO can help with

LAO can help with some immigration problems. For example, LAO might be able help if:

  • someone is detained for immigration reasons
  • someone is appealing to the Immigration Appeal Division because there’s a deportation order against them
  • in certain situations, Canada Border Services Agency is ready to remove them from Canada

They may be able to help with other refugee and immigration law problems but it depends on the situation.  

LAO does not usually pay for a lawyer to help with a humanitarian and compassionate (H&C) application. But, in some situations, you might be able to get legal aid for an H&C application.

How LAO decides whether you qualify

LAO considers a number of things when deciding whether to give you a legal aid certificate.

For example, they look at whether your “case has merit”. So, if you’re appealing a deportation order, they look at how likely it is that your appeal will be successful.

They also consider whether a reasonable person who could pay for a lawyer would do that if they were in your situation.

Contacting LAO

You can contact LAO by calling 1-800-668-8258. TTY users call Bell's Relay Service at 1-800-855-0511.

Finding a lawyer

If you get a legal aid certificate, you need to find a lawyer who accepts it.

On the LAO website, you can search a list of lawyers who accept legal aid certificates. You can search for lawyers by office location and by language. You can also say if you need a lawyer who helps if there is domestic violence.

You can also contact one of LAO’s staff offices in Hamilton, Ottawa, and Toronto directly.

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Reviewed: August 16, 2019

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