What happens at my refugee hearing?

2. Go to your hearing

If you have a lawyer or other legal representative, the Refugee Board will contact that person to schedule a hearing date. If you don’t have a legal representative, the Refugee Board will set your hearing date and then mail you a Notice to Appear. It’s important that the Refugee Board always has your current mailing address. If you plan to move, you must update your contact information before you move.  If you change your legal representative, you must update this information.

It’s very important that you go to your hearing. Your hearing date is the first date on your Notice to Appear form. If you need to make changes, you must act quickly. You might be able to change the date, time, or location of your hearing if you can show “exceptional circumstances” but this is rare. An exceptional circumstance might be:

  • your legal representative is not available on the date
  • you need a new date because of your special needs or the needs of a family member
  • there has been an emergency or some other event beyond your control
  • you have moved to another location

Abandonment hearing

If you don’t go to your hearing, there is a second date on the Notice to Appear form for a special hearing to decide if your refugee claim is . The special hearing date will be no later than 5 working days after your hearing date. If possible, you should get legal help.

You must explain why you were not able to go to your hearing. You should try to bring that supports your explanation. For example, if you were not able to go to the refugee hearing because you were in the hospital, you should bring proof.

The Board member can:

  • allow you to proceed with your claim. If this happens, be prepared to proceed with your refugee hearing right away.
  • decide that you “abandoned” your claim. This means you lose the right to make a refugee claim.

If the Board member decides that you abandoned your claim, get legal help right away. You might be able to reopen your claim or ask the Federal Court to review the decision.

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