What happens at my refugee hearing?

1. Learn what behaviour is expected

The Refugee Board recently announced that it will continue to schedule all refugee hearings to be heard remotely. For more information, read the question.

You should understand how to behave when you go to your hearing and during the hearing.

Before the hearing

  • Wear clothes that are comfortable.
  • Arrive at least 30 minutes before your hearing starts. This will give you enough time to find the hearing room and speak with the interpreter to make sure you understand each other.
  • Ask your witnesses to arrive 30 minutes before the hearing starts.
  • Bring phone numbers for any witnesses that will be testifying, and a phone card if the call is long-distance.

Remember to bring all your original documents to the hearing. Also bring all envelopes in which documents were mailed to you.

Bring any you didn't file before the deadline. You will have a chance to ask the Board member to accept this evidence when the hearing starts. You will need to explain why it's late and how it's important.

During the hearing

  • Say “Sir” or “Madam” when you speak to the Board member.
  • Don't interrupt when the Board member or another person is speaking. Only one person is allowed to speak at a time.
  • Speak slowly. The Board Member will be taking notes and will need time to write.
  • If you're using an interpreter, give your information in short phrases to allow them time to translate accurately. Your answer can be long but you should tell your answer to the interpreter in short parts at a time. And even if you understand some English, it is important to wait to have the interpreter translate what was said.
  • Speak in a clear voice. The microphone in front of you only records what you say. It does not make your voice louder.
  • Tell the Board Member right away if you're having trouble hearing or understanding them, the interpreter, or anyone else. Don't wait until the hearing is over.

When answering questions, listen carefully to each question. Wait until the whole question is asked before you respond. Answer only what you are asked. If you don't understand a question, tell the Board member that you don't understand. You can also ask for a question to be repeated or rephrased. Also tell the Board member if you do not understand the interpreter.

If you don't know the answer to a question, don't guess. Tell the Board member that you don't know or don't remember. If you're not sure of exact dates or other information, say that you're not sure but will answer the question as best you can.

Don't exaggerate or add details that go beyond what you can remember. If the Board member thinks that you're not being truthful about something, they might not believe other things that you say.

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