Frequently Asked Questions

Applicable to all refugee and immigration matters

  • Can anyone help me in my case at the IRB? If so, who can help me when appearing before the IRB?

    You have the right to be represented in any hearing or proceeding at the IRB by counsel. A counsel is someone who can give you advice or speak for you if you permit them to have that right.

    Your counsel can be any person, including a trusted friend or community member.

    However, if a fee is being charged for the service, your counsel must be a registered immigration consultant or a lawyer. In this case, your counsel must be a member in good standing in his or her professional organization.

    In Quebec, a notary who is a member in good standing of their professional association may also represent an individual before the IRB.

  • What happens if someone appearing before the IRB is not represented by counsel?

    Some people may choose to appear without counsel and represent themselves in hearings at the IRB.

    Everyone has a right to counsel, but it is your choice to be represented by counsel or not. If you choose to have counsel, you are responsible for finding and hiring the person who will represent you. If you choose to hire a lawyer or immigration consultant, you are responsible for paying their fees.

    It’s important to the Board that everyone understand the processes of the IRB. For people without counsel, the IRB can help you understand its processes, for example, each Division at the IRB provides information on its processes on the IRB website. If you don’t understand something in the hearing room, you can ask for an explanation from the member during hearing.

  • What is a judicial review?

    You can ask the Federal Court of Canada to look at some immigration or refugee cases again after the IRB has made its decision. This is known as a judicial review. A lawyer must apply for leave and judicial review for you. The Federal Court can choose to either agree with the IRB, or it can tell the IRB it must hear your case again. This does not mean the original decision will be reversed.

  • How do I apply for judicial review of an IRB decision?

    The Federal Court of Canada is responsible for the judicial review of some IRB decisions. In fact, the IRB rarely takes part in this process.

    There are several groups than can apply for judicial review of an IRB decision. They are:

    • The person who is the subject of the IRB hearing or proceeding(known as the “Person Concerned”)
    • The Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship; and
    • The Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness.

    You have 15 days after receiving your IRB decision to apply to the Federal Court of Canada for leave and judicial review.

    Judicial review is different from an appeal about the facts of your case. The Court will only allow your application if you can show that the IRB made an error of law or fact. The Federal Court will also hear cases if you can show that the IRB breached a principle of natural justice or procedural fairness.

  • Can the IRB help me immigrate to Canada or obtain a visa to visit Canada?

    The IRB does not deal with visas or direct immigration to Canada. For immigration questions, you should contact a Canadian Immigration representative at one of the following places:

  • You live in Canada and want information on how to sponsor family members living outside the country. Can the IRB help?

    To learn how to sponsor a family member, you should contact the Department of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship. You can follow the link below or call toll free at 1-888-242-2100.

    Family Sponsorship

  • How do you apply for a public service job?

    Public Servant job hiring is handled by Public Service Commission. On their web site you can find links to Public Servant jobs and other information about the hiring process.

  • How do I become an IRB decision-maker?

    Our decision makers are known as members. The Board has two types of members: Public Servants and those appointed by the Governor in Council (i.e. the Governor General of Canada). Hiring of Public Servant members is advertised through the Public Service Commission website. Governor in Council appointed members are appointed through a selection process. Those processes are advertised on the Government’s appointments web site.

  • How do I make a complaint about an IRB member?

    To make a complaint against an IRB member, you must make your complaint in writing to the Director of the Office of Integrity. You can send your complaint via email to Integrity-Integrite@irb-cisr.gc.ca or by writing to:

    Director, Office of Integrity
    Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada
    Minto Place, Canada Building
    344 Slater Street, 14th Floor
    Ottawa, Ontario
    Canada
    K1A 0K1

    You can read more about this process on our website.

Refugee claims

  • What is the difference between a claim that was made at a port of entry and an inland claim?

    At a port of entry (airport, seaport or land border between Canada and the United States)

    If you make your claim at a port of entry, you will be given a Basis of Claim Form (BOC) to complete. You will also be given a Notice to Appear for a Hearing that tells you when and where your claim will be heard by the RPD. Your completed BOC Form must arrive at the IRB no later than 15 days after the date your claim was referred to the RPD.

    At an inland office (an office of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC)

    If you make your claim at an inland office, you must complete your BOC Form and give it to the IRCC officer on site. The IRCC officer will decide whether your claim is eligible to be referred to the RPD. If the officer decides you are eligible to make a refugee claim, the officer will give you a Notice to Appear for a hearing. This notice will tell you when and where your claim will be heard by the RPD.

    The next step will be your hearing. In a hearing, an RPD decision-maker - called a member - will decide if your claim should be accepted or not.

  • How do I get counsel?

    You can have someone represent you at your hearing. This person is your counsel. Your counsel can be paid or unpaid, but if you pay your counsel, they must be either:

    • a member in good standing of a provincial law society (lawyer or paralegal, in a province that permits paralegals to be members of the law society)
    • a member in good standing of the Chambre des notaires du Québec; or
    • an immigration consultant who is a member in good standing of the Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council.

    Only these counsel can charge a fee to represent you at the RPD. If you decide to hire a counsel, you must hire this person at your own expense. If you do not have enough money to pay for counsel, you may contact the legal aid office in your province to find out what help, if any, is available. Please refer to the list of provincial legal aid offices included in your Claimant's Kit.

    Any paid counsel must give the IRB’s Refugee Protection Division:

    • the name of the organization they belong to,
    • their membership identification number and also
    • their completed Counsel Contact Information form included in your Claimant's Kit.

    Your counsel can also be a family member, a friend or a volunteer who may represent you without charging you a fee. In this case, you need to complete the Notice of Representation Without a Fee or Other Consideration form included in your Claimant's Kit.

  • What do I need to demonstrate in my claim?

    You must demonstrate in your claim either:

    • that you meet the United Nations (UN) definition of a Convention refugee, or
    • that you are a person in need of protection as described in the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.

    Convention refugees are people who have a well-founded fear of persecution in their country of nationality. A fear of persecution must be based on:

    • race,
    • religion,
    • nationality,
    • political opinion,
    • Or membership in a particular social group.

    Membership in a particular social group can include, but is not limited to, sexual orientation, gender identity, domestic violence and HIV status. Persons in need of protection must show that if they return to their country that they will personally face danger. This danger could be torture, a risk to their life or a risk of cruel and unusual treatment or punishment.

  • What if I don’t provide the information on time or miss one of the deadlines?

    If you do not provide your completed Basis of Claim Form (BOC Form) on time, the Refugee Protection Division (RPD) may declare that your claim has been abandoned. This means that your claim will not be heard and that you cannot be found to be a Convention refugee or a person in need of protection. Before declaring your claim abandoned, the RPD will hold a special hearing about abandonment no later than five working days after your BOC Form was due. For claims made at a port of entry, the date of this special hearing is included on your Notice to Appear.

    At this special hearing, you will have to explain:

    • why you could not provide a completed BOC Form on time, and
    • why the RPD should continue with your claim.

    It is very important that you go to this special hearing if you did not submit your BOC Form on time and you wish to continue to make your refugee claim.

    Within 10 days of receiving your Notice to Appear, you must give your address in Canada to the RPD if you did not already provide it. You may have provided your address to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) or to the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) when you began the refugee protection process. You must also tell the RPD and either IRCC or the CBSA (depending on who referred your claim to the RPD) immediately if you move. If you do not provide your contact information to the RPD on time, the RPD may not be able to contact you and may declare your claim abandoned.

    Claimants are expected to be ready to proceed with their hearing on the given date. The RPD will only change the date or time of a hearing under exceptional circumstances.

    Examples where a change to the date and time of your hearing may be agreed to:

    • if there has been an emergency, or
    • if something has happened outside your control, and:
      • you did everything you could to continue with your claim,
      • your application has been made in accordance with the RPD Rules.
  • Why are there different timelines for some countries?

    The Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has identified a list of designated countries of origin (DCO), which must follow different regulatory time limits for the hearing of their claims before the RPD. Visit the IRCC website for more details.

  • What kind of documentary evidence is considered at refugee protection hearings?

    You must give the RPD documents that support your refugee claim. You should begin gathering this supporting evidence as soon as possible.

    You must show the RPD evidence of who you are. This means giving the RPD official documents with your name and date of birth on them (known as "identity documents"). For example, you can give the RPD a:

    • passport,
    • national identity card,
    • birth certificate,
    • school certificate,
    • driver's license,
    • military document,
    • professional or religious membership card.

    Along with identity documents, you can submit other documents that you feel are relevant to your claim, including:

    • proof of membership in political organizations,
    • medical or psychological reports,
    • police reports,
    • business records,
    • news clippings,
    • visas,
    • and travel documents (airplane, train or bus tickets).

    The decision maker will also consider information found in the IRB’s documents about your country. The IRB produces these collections of information on countries. This is called a National Documentation Package (NDP). This package contains documents on human rights, security conditions and other issues relevant to refugee protection claims from your country. Each NDP provides references to help you locate the documents that are not available on the IRB website. Where possible, links are provided to the documents available on the website of the organization that published the document.

    Regarding these documents, it is your responsibility to:

    • Go to the IRB website to review the documents in the NDP for your home country, as the RPD may consider them when deciding your claim. (Alternatively, a paper copy of the NDP may be viewed at any IRB regional office.)
    • Check the IRB website for the newest version of the NDP for your home country prior to your hearing.

    The RPD may decide to use other documents as well such as:

    • reports produced by the IRB Research Directorate,
    • media articles
    • reports from human rights organizations.

    Copies of any additional documents which the RPD finds useful will be sent to you before your hearing.

  • Why are there differences between claims that were made on or after December 15, 2012 and those made before?

    Claims that were referred to the IRB before December 15, 2012 are now called Legacy Claims. Information regarding the processing of Legacy Claims can be found here.

  • When will I get my decision?

    The decision-maker who hears your claim will normally provide a decision and reasons at the end of your hearing. If the decision-maker is not ready to deliver their decision, your decision will be provided by mail several weeks following the hearing. For this reason, please ensure that your contact information is current with the RPD at all times.

  • How does a refugee protection claim get referred to the IRB?

    The refugee protection process begins when you make a refugee protection claim. This happens at  either a port of entry to Canada or an inland Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) office. Here, the responsible officer from the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) or IRCC will decide whether your claim is eligible to be referred to the Refugee Protection Division (RPD) of the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada. If your claim is determined to be eligible, it will be referred to the RPD to start the refugee determination process in Canada.

  • Are all refugee claims processed in the same way?

    Everyone who makes a claim for refugee protection will get a fair hearing, in accordance with the law and the principles of natural justice and fairness. Changes were made to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act on December 15, 2012 that mean cases made before this date are treated differently than those made after. For example, the new regulations specify time limits for the first scheduled hearing depending on whether the claimant originates from a Designated Country of Origin and if so, whether the claim was made at a port of entry or an inland office.

  • Will there still be adjournments and postponements in the new system?

    Yes, the new regulations do allow for postponements and adjournments in those cases where natural justice and fairness require it. It is also possible to delay because of a pending Security Screening notification or due to operational limitations of the Refugee Protection Division.

  • Why are there differences for claims made on or after December 15, 2012, and those made before?

    Claims that were referred to the IRB before December 15, 2012 are now called legacy claims. Cases in which a considerable amount of evidence was heard prior to December 15, 2012 are referred to as "transitional claims" not "legacy claims."

    Information on the processing of transitional cases and legacy claims can be found here.

  • What is the IRB doing to assist self-represented claimants?

    The IRB has developed tools and information that are accessible and easy to understand. These include the revised Claimant Guide and Important Instructions available in multiple languages. Clear information on claimants’ rights and obligations is made available in various formats at the earliest possible opportunity. Members receive special training to help them consider and reflect the needs of self-represented claimants.

  • How will you address the needs of vulnerable persons in the new system?

    The IRB is aware of and committed to addressing the important needs of vulnerable persons. The IRB already has a number of different tools to do this including the Chairperson’s Guideline 8. Guideline 8 encourages flexibility and sensitivity when dealing with vulnerable persons. The needs and concerns of vulnerable persons are also an important part of the training that IRB members must complete. This training puts emphasis on recognizing and identifying vulnerable persons early on in the process. As always, the decision-maker will then determine if and how someone can have special accommodations at their hearing on a case-by-case basis.

Legacy claims

  • Can you give me practical examples of how my claim will be dealt with in the new system?
    Possible scenariosNext steps
    My claim was referred but not heard by the RPD prior to December 15, 2012.
    • Your claim is not subject to the new RPD regulatory timelines.
    • You would not have an appeal to the Refugee Appeal Division but could seek leave for judicial review by the Federal Court.
    • Your claim may be heard either by a GIC RPD member or a public servant RPD member.
    My claim has been heard by a GIC RPD Member before December 15, 2012 (i.e. substantive evidence has been heard), but no decision has been made. (These claims are referred to as “transitional claims” not “legacy claims.”)
    • The decision will be made by the GIC member who heard the claim.
    • However, if the GIC RPD member is unavailable to finalize the claim, the claim may be re-heard by either a public servant RPD member or another GIC RPD member.
    • Your claim is not subject to the new RPD timelines.
    • You would not have a right of appeal but could seek leave for judicial review by the Federal Court.
    My claim was rejected by the RPD before December 15, 2012.
    • You do not have a right of appeal to the RAD but may be able to seek leave for judicial review by the Federal Court.
    My claim was rejected by the RPD before December 15, 2012 but was ordered to be re-heard after that date by the Federal Court on judicial review.
    • Your claim would be re-heard by a public servant RPD member.
    • You would not have a right of appeal to the RAD but could seek leave for judicial review by the Federal Court.
  • I am a claimant and don't really understand the differences between the two systems.

    If no substantial evidence was heard prior to December 15, 2012 in your claim, the new rules and new regulations now apply to you. You do not, however, have to meet the new time limits in the new regulations and you will still use the Personal Information Form (PIF), rather than the new Basis of Claim Form (BOC).

  • My claim has been pending for several months. Why does someone with a claim that was referred after mine take precedence over me?

    Unlike previous claims, claims referred after December 15, 2012, have to be heard within 60 days. The time limit means these cases take priority. The IRB will continue to schedule and hear legacy claims within its existing resources.

Refugee appeals

  • What is the RAD?

    The Refugee Appeal Division (RAD) hears appeals after a claim for refugee protection is denied by the Refugee Protection Division (RPD). You may be permitted to appeal if the RPD has rejected your claim.

    The RAD can also decide an appeal made by the Minister on a positive RPD decision.

    The RAD is separate and independent from the RPD.

  • What is an appeal to the RAD?

    An appeal is a request to make a new decision on a case. At the IRB, the Refugee Appeal Division (RAD) exists to hear appeals of RPD cases. In your appeal, you must show that the RPD made mistakes in its decision. These mistakes can be about the law, the facts, or both. The RAD will decide whether to confirm or change the RPD’s decision. It may also decide to send the case back to the RPD to be heard again, giving the directions to the RPD that it considers appropriate.

    An appeal to the RAD typically doesn’t involve an actual hearing. Most RAD appeals are paper-based. The RAD member makes a decision on the basis of the RPD record(file), and the evidence provided by the parties (you and the Minister, if the Minister intervenes). In certain circumstances, the RAD may allow you to present new evidence that the RPD did not have when it made its decision. If the RAD accepts your new evidence, it will consider the evidence in its review of your appeal. It may also order an oral hearing to consider this new evidence.

  • Which decisions can be appealed?

    RPD decisions that allow or reject refugee protection can be appealed to the RAD.

  • Who can appeal a decision on refugee protection?

    The following persons can appeal an RPD decision:

    • You (with certain exceptions – see next question)
    • The Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada

    If you appeal to the RAD, you are the appellant. If the Minister decides to participate in your appeal, the Minister is the intervenor. If the Minister appeals then the Minister is the appellant and you are the respondent.

  • Who cannot appeal an RPD decision?

    You cannot appeal the RPD’s decision to reject your refugee protection claim if:

    • your refugee protection claim was withdrawn or abandoned;
    • the RPD’s decision states that your claim has no credible basis or is manifestly unfounded;
    • you made your claim at a land border with the United States and the claim was referred to the RPD as an exception to the Safe Third Country Agreement;
    • the Minister made an application to cease (end) your refugee protection, and the RPD’s decision allowed or rejected that application;
    • the Minister made an application to vacate (cancel) the decision to allow your refugee protection claim, and the RPD’s decision allowed or rejected that application;
    • your claim was referred to the RPD before the relevant provisions of the new system came into force; or
    • your claim for refugee protection was deemed to be rejected under Article 1F(b) of the Refugee Convention because of an order of surrender under the Extradition Act.
  • When and how do I appeal to the RAD?

    There are two steps involved in appealing to the RAD:

    1. Filing your appeal

      You must file your notice of appeal to the RAD no later than 15 days after you receive the written reasons for the RPD’s decision. You must provide three (3) copies of your notice of appeal to the RAD Registry in the regional office that sent your RPD decision.
    2. Perfecting your appeal

      You must perfect(complete) your appeal by providing your appellant’s record to the RAD no later than 30 days after you receive the written reasons for the RPD’s decision. You must provide two (2) copies of your appellant’s record to the RAD Registry in the regional office that sent you your RPD decision.

    For more information on how to file and perfect an appeal, refer to the Appellant’s Guide.

  • What are my responsibilities in filing an appeal to the RAD?

    In order for the RAD to review your appeal, you must:

    • provide three (3) copies of the notice of appeal to the RAD no later than 15 days after the day you received the written reasons for the RPD’s decision;
    • provide two (2) copies of the appellant’s record to the RAD no later than 30 days after the day you received the written reasons for the RPD’s decision;
    • make sure that all of the documents you provide are in the right format;
    • clearly explain the reasons why you are appealing; and
    • provide your documents on time.

    If you do not do all of these things, the RAD may dismiss your appeal.

  • What are the time limits for an appeal?

    The following time limits apply to appeals:

    • You must file your notice of appeal no more than 15 days after the day you received the written reasons for the RPD’s decision.
    • You must file your appellant’s record no more than 30 days after the day you received the written reasons for the RPD’s decision.
    • The Minister may decide to intervene and submit evidence before the RAD makes a final decision on the appeal.
    • If the Minister decides to intervene, the RAD will wait 15 days for your reply to the Minister and to the RAD.
  • What happens if I miss a deadline?

    If you miss the deadline to file your appeal and you still want to do so, you must file an application for an extension of time. The application form is part of the Appellant’s Guide and Kit, and is available on the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada website and from the IRB offices.
    The application for an extension of time must follow certain rules. These rules are:

    You must provide three (3) copies of your notice of appeal and two (2) copies of your appellant’s record with your application. You must also provide an affidavit or solemn declaration that explains why you missed the time limits.

  • Will there be a hearing?

    In most cases, the RAD does not hold a hearing. The RAD usually makes its decision with the information provided by you and the Minister, as well as the record of what was considered at your RPD hearing. If you have “new” evidence that the member has accepted as new, you may ask for a hearing and the RAD will consider your request.

  • What is “new” evidence?

    The RAD decides what is “new” evidence using the following test:

    • it did not exist when the RPD rejected your claim;
    • it was not reasonably available when the RPD rejected your claim; or
    • in the circumstances, the RPD could not reasonably have expected you to have provided it when it rejected your claim.
  • Am I required to have counsel represent me in my appeal?

    You are not required to have counsel represent you in your appeal. However, you may decide that you want counsel to help you. If so, you must hire counsel and pay their fees yourself. Whether or not you hire counsel, you are responsible for your appeal, including meeting the time limits. If you miss a time limit, the RAD may decide your appeal without further notice.

  • How do I get counsel?

    You can have someone represent you at your hearing. This person is your counsel. Your counsel can be paid or unpaid, but if you pay your counsel, they must be either:

    • a member in good standing of a provincial law society (lawyer or paralegal, in a province that permits paralegals to be members of the law society)
    • a member in good standing of the Chambre des notaires du Québec; or
    • an immigration consultant who is a member in good standing of the Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council.

    Only these counsel can charge a fee to represent you at the RAD. If you decide to hire a counsel, you must hire this person at your own expense. If you do not have enough money to pay for counsel, you may contact the legal aid office in your province to find out what help, if any, is available. Please refer to the list of provincial legal aid offices included in your Claimant's Kit.

    Any paid counsel must give the IRB:

    • the name of the organization they belong to,
    • their membership identification number and also
    • their completed Counsel Contact Information form included in your Appellant's Kit.

    Your counsel can also be a family member, a friend or a volunteer who may represent you without charging you a fee. In this case, you need to complete the Notice of Representation Without a Fee or Other Consideration form which you can find in your Appellant’s Kit, and give the form to the Minister and the RAD as soon as possible. If the Minister intervened in your RPD hearing, you must send the form to the address of counsel for that Minister. If the Minister did not intervene, then you must provide the form to the applicable address, which you can find on page 13 of the Appellant’s Guide and Kit.

  • The Minister is opposing my appeal. What do I do?

    If the Minister decides to oppose your appeal, you will receive:

    • a notice of intervention
    • any documents the Minister is providing as evidence.

    The Minister may also give you and the RAD an intervention record that includes documents like the ones listed in the "Perfecting the appeal: appellant’s record" section of the Appellant’s Guide. The Minister can provide documents at any time before the RAD makes a decision on your appeal. You have the right to reply to the Minister’s documents.

    For additional information on how to file and perfect an appeal, refer to the Appellant’s Guide.

  • What types of decision can a RAD member make?

    The RAD member will make one of the following decisions:

    • confirm (agree with) the RPD’s determination;
    • set aside (disagree with) the RPD’s determination and replace it with a different determination; or
    • refer (send) the case back to the RPD and order a new hearing, giving the RPD the directions that it considers appropriate.

Detention reviews and admissibility hearings

  • Why are some people detained and what happens after someone is detained?
    • The decision to detain someone is made by immigration officials of the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA).
    • The CBSA may detain a foreign national or permanent resident if it has reasonable grounds to believe the person:
      • is unlikely to appear for an immigration appointment, hearing or removal;
      • is a danger to the public;
      • is being investigated on security grounds or for violating human or international rights, serious criminality, criminality or organized criminality.
      • has not established her or his identity to the satisfaction of the CBSA (only applies to foreign nationals, not permanent residents).
      • is part of “irregular arrivals”. This designation is made by the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness.

    • After someone is detained, the CBSA must bring the person before the Immigration Division (ID) of the IRB within 48 hours (or as soon as possible afterwards) to have the reasons for the detention reviewed. Should the ID member (decision-maker) order that detention continues, the next detention review is held within seven days; subsequent detention reviews are held within every 30 days thereafter.
    • If the ID member finds that there is no longer reason under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) to continue detention, the member will order the person released, with or without terms and conditions. Terms may include, for example, posting a security deposit or reporting on a regular basis to a CBSA office.

    Why are some people considered inadmissible to Canada?

    • The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) screens people for admissibility to Canada. Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) may, in a limited number of instances, also screen people for admissibility to Canada.
    • Grounds for inadmissibility include:
      • failure in some way to comply with Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA);
      • posing a security threat;
      • violation of human or international rights;
      • involvement in crime or organized crime;
      • misrepresentation;
      • health conditions (in some cases).
      • financial reasons; or
      • accompanying an inadmissible family member.
  • What are the possible outcomes of an admissibility hearing?
    • If the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) - or, in some cases, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) - has reason to believe that someone is inadmissible to Canada, they may ask the Immigration Division (ID) of the IRB to hold an admissibility hearing. Admissibility hearings determine if a person may enter or remain in Canada.
    • If the person is not a permanent resident, the CBSA may issue a removal order without an admissibility hearing under certain circumstances.
    • Based on the evidence presented by the CBSA (or IRCC) and by the person concerned, the ID member decides whether or not the allegations are founded.
    • If the ID member decides that the allegations are founded, the member issues a removal order for the person concerned.
    • If the ID member decides that the allegations are not founded, the member allows the person concerned to enter or remain in Canada.
  • What is a removal order and what happens after one is issued?
    • There are three different types of removal orders.
    • Departure order - the person must leave Canada within 30 days after the order comes into effect. Before leaving Canada, the person must notify the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) to get a certificate of departure as proof of compliance. If the person does not leave or does not receive the certificate of departure, the departure order automatically becomes a deportation order after 30 days.
    • Exclusion order - the person must leave Canada and cannot return for a period of one to five years without written permission from an immigration officer.
    • Deportation order - the person must leave Canada and may never return without written permission from an immigration officer. As well, if the person did not leave voluntarily and the CBSA had to pay the cost of deportation, the person must repay the cost of the deportation before he or she is granted permission to return.
    • In all cases, the person must appear before an immigration officer at the port of entry before leaving Canada.
    • In some cases, a person can appeal a removal order to the Immigration Appeal Division (IAD) of the IRB. In some cases, the person may apply for leave (permission) to the Federal Court of Canada to review the removal order.
    • After a removal order is issued, the case is referred back to the CBSA to be enforced.

Immigration appeals

  • What are the grounds for an appeal?

    There are two reasons the Immigration Appeal Division (IAD) may allow an appeal and set aside an original decision. These are an error in law or fact, or of a breach of a principle of natural justice. In certain cases, the IAD may also give special relief on the basis of humanitarian and compassionate consideration. This special relief considers all the circumstances of the case, including the best interests of a child.

  • What kinds of immigration matters can be appealed to the IRB?
    • There are several types of appeals that are heard by the Immigration Appeal Division (IAD) of the IRB:
      • appeals of family class sponsorship applications - for example, of spouses - refused by officials of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC);
      • appeals of removal orders made against permanent residents, Convention refugees and other protected persons, and holders of permanent resident visas;
      • appeals by permanent residents who have been found by a visa officer outside of Canada not to have fulfilled their residency obligation; and
      • appeals by the Minister of Public Safety (representing the Canada Border Services Agency) of favourable decisions at admissibility hearings by the IRB's Immigration Division.
  • What happens when a person appeals a sponsorship refusal?
    • The sponsor has 30 days after the refusal to make an appeal to the Immigration Appeal Division (IAD). The appeal will be heard by a member (decision-maker) following the tribunal process. Some sponsorship appeals go through an Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) process. A dispute resolution officer (usually a member of the IAD) encourages the parties to resolve the appeal without a full hearing.
    • If the appeal is allowed, IRCC will resume processing the sponsorship application or it may challenge the decision of the IAD by applying to the Federal Court of Canada for leave for judicial review. It is possible for IRCC to refuse the application for a different reason.
    • If the appeal is dismissed, the sponsor may apply to the Federal Court of Canada for leave for judicial review.
    • The Federal Court will either dismiss the application by IRCC or the sponsor or return the case to the IAD for re-hearing.
  • What is Alternative Dispute Resolution and how does it work?
    • Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) offers a more informal, less confrontational and more consensual approach such as mediation to settle appeals, particularly (in appropriate cases) sponsorship appeals.
    • The ADR process usually involves an in-person meeting. This is known as an ADR conference. An ADR conference is scheduled to last for one hour. A dispute resolution officer (DRO) conducts the ADR conference to assist  the Minister's counsel (representing Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada) and the appellant and their counsel to agree to a settlement of the appeal.
  • What happens if someone appeals his or her removal order to the Immigration Appeal Division?
    • The person has 30 days from receiving the removal order from the Immigration Division (ID) or Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) to make an appeal to the Immigration Appeal Division (IAD).
    • If the appeal is allowed, the removal order is set aside and the person is permitted to remain in Canada. If the appeal is dismissed, the removal order is upheld and the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) then has the power to remove the person from Canada.
    • The Immigration Appeal Division (IAD) may stay the removal order under certain conditions. This means that the removal order will not be acted on for a period of time. At any time after a stay is ordered, the IAD may change the conditions, cancel the stay or change its duration. If the IAD cancels the stay, it will then allow or dismiss the appeal.
    • Under 68(4) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA), a stay of a removal order based on criminality will be terminated if the person concerned is convicted of another serious criminal offence. The CBSA may then remove the person from Canada.
  • What happens when a person appeals a decision of an overseas visa officer regarding his or her residency obligation?
    • The person who is alleged not to have complied with the residency obligation must make the appeal no later than 60 days after receiving the written decision.
    • Upon application, the Immigration Appeal Division (IAD) can issue an order that the person must physically appear at the hearing. Once the order is made, an IRCC officer will issue a travel document allowing the person to return to Canada for the hearing.
    • A member (decision-maker) will hear the appeal following the tribunal process.
    • If the appeal regarding the residency obligation is allowed, the IAD will set aside the decision of the officer and the person will not lose permanent resident status.
    • If the appeal is dismissed, the person will lose permanent resident status and the IAD will also make a removal order.