How do I prepare for my refugee hearing?

4. Prepare to give testimony

At your hearing, you must answer questions about your claim. The Board member will ask you to make an oath or solemn declaration that everything you will say is true.

If you have a lawyer or legal representative, they will meet with you to help you get ready to testify. Talk with them about:

  • what you're afraid will happen if you return to your country
  • how your fear is supported by your
  • why you believe you can't get protection from the authorities in your country
  • how you meet the definition of Contention Refugee or

You will be asked questions by different people, including:

  • the Board member,
  • your lawyer or legal representative, if you have one, and
  • the Minister's Counsel, if there is one.

Everything you say after making your oath or solemn declaration is called testimony. Like your Basis of Claim (BOC), your documents, and the testimony of any witness you have, your own testimony is evidence that the Board member uses to decide your claim.

Some tips to remember when preparing to testify:

  • 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.
  • If you don't understand a question, tell the Board member. If you don't know the answer, don't guess. If you are going to give a guess or estimate, make sure the Board member knows that you are not sure.

Learn more about what happens at the hearing so that you're prepared to give testimony on your hearing date. You can also register for a free “Ready Tour” session that gives more information about the hearing. 

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