Less Complex Claims: The short-hearing and file-review processes

The Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB) is committed to deciding claims for refugee protection fairly and efficiently. To facilitate this commitment, the Refugee Protection Division (RPD) of the IRB has two separate processes for finalizing less complex claims from its inventory: the short-hearing process and the file-review process. These processes, described in the Instructions Governing the Streaming of Less Complex Claims at the Refugee Protection Division, aim to allocate an amount of preparation and hearing room time that is proportionate to the complexity of each unique claim.

The RPD, relying on its knowledge of country conditions and claim types and its experience in deciding claims, assesses each individual claim to determine if it is suitable for a short-hearing or a file-review process. Although not all claims are suitable, all claims are automatically considered by the RPD for either process.

File-review process

The RPD can, in specific circumstances, accept a claim for refugee protection without a hearing. Accepting a claim without a hearing is called the file-review process, and it allows RPD decision-makers to accept the claim after a review of the evidence in the file, which includes confirmation of security screening, the Basis of Claim Form, identity documents and other relevant evidence and submissions.

Claims that can be accepted without a hearing

Any claim that meets the criteria set out in the Instructions Governing the Streaming of Less Complex Claims at the Refugee Protection Division can be processed by file review without a hearing. Country and claim types generally considered appropriate for the file-review process are as follows:

CountryClaim type(s)
IranParticular social group
Gender/age
Female gender norms
Family violence (violence against women)
LibyaCriminality/corruption
Extortion from militias in various cities in Libya
Kidnapping or threat of kidnapping and fear of militias
PakistanReligion: Ahmadis, Christians, Shias
Saudi ArabiaParticular social group
Gender/age
Female
Saudi ArabiaReligion: Shia
SudanPolitical opinion
Activism
Opposing current government
Opposing military conscription rate
VenezuelaPolitical opinion
Activism and/or organization
Anti-government
TurkeyHizmet
EgyptCoptic Christians
AfghanistanAll claims
BurundiAll claims
SyriaAll claims
EritreaAll claims
IraqAll claims
YemenAll claims

Claims that cannot be accepted without a hearing

The RPD will not decide a claim without a hearing if:

  • the security screening confirmation has not yet been received. All refugee protection claimants in Canada must go through security screening, which is conducted by the Canada Border Services Agency in partnership with the Canadian Security Intelligence Service;
  • the Minister’s representative intends to intervene in person at the hearing. A representative of the Minister has the right to intervene in any claim for refugee protection, introduce evidence, and question the claimant at a hearing;
  • a Notice has been sent under the Refugee Protection Division Rules (RPD Rules) notifying the Minister of a possible exclusion, inadmissibility or integrity issue;
  • there are issues related to the claimant’s identity that require further examination;
  • there are serious credibility issues that arise from the documents in the file;
  • the claim is inconsistent with country information; or
  • after reviewing the file, the member determines that there are complex legal or factual issues that require a hearing to resolve. If this is the case, the claimant will have an opportunity to present their case at a hearing. A claim for refugee protection cannot be rejected without a hearing.

The process

Once a claim for refugee protection has been identified by the RPD for the file-review process, a notification is sent to the claimant or their counsel stating that the claim has been selected for this process. The claimant or counsel is also provided a confirmation form and asked to return it within 15 days. The intent of this form is to certify that the claimant, for the purpose of the file-review process, (i) has submitted any additional documents or (ii) does not wish to provide any further documents.

After the RPD receives the completed form, or the 15-day time limit to return it has passed, the claim may be processed by file review. If so, the claim is accepted without a hearing, and a Notice of Decision is sent to the parties by mail.

If, at any time, the member determines that it is not appropriate to accept a claim for refugee protection based on the evidence in the file, the claim will be scheduled for a hearing.

Short-hearing process

Under certain circumstances, the RPD may decide a claim for refugee protection after a short, focused hearing. A refugee protection claim that is suitable for the short-hearing process has only one or two issues which appear to be determinative of the claim. The hearing of such a claim can usually be concluded within two hours.

Claims that can be decided in a short hearing

Any claim that meets the criteria set out in the Instructions Governing the Streaming of Less Complex Claims at the Refugee Protection Division can be processed under the short-hearing process. Country and claim types that are considered appropriate for processing under the file-review process (list found above) may also be processed under the short-hearing process. Additional country and claim types generally considered appropriate for the short-hearing process are as follows:

CountryClaim type
IranSexual orientation
Religion: apostasy or conversion to Christianity or Zoroastrianism
BahamasSexual orientation
BarbadosSexual orientation
DjiboutiPolitical opinion and activism
RussiaSexual orientation
RwandaSexual orientation
VenezuelaSexual orientation
North KoreaPolitical opinion
State policy issues
NigeriaCriminality/corruption
PeruCriminality/corruption
Saint Vincent and St. LuciaCriminality/corruption

Claims that cannot be decided in a short hearing

The RPD will not decide any claim in a short hearing if:

  • the Minister has filed a Notice of Intervention to intervene in person; or
  • a Notice has been sent under the RPD Rules notifying the Minister of a possible exclusion, inadmissibility or integrity issue.

The process

The RPD may schedule multiple short hearings on the same day. When this is done, two or more claims may be scheduled at the same time, such that one can begin immediately after the other ends. In such a situation, the claimant will receive a special Notice to Appear indicating the date their claim will be heard and whether it will be heard in the morning or the afternoon. The Notice will indicate when the claimant is expected to present themself to reception, and that they will be called when the RPD is ready to hear their claim. Claimants and counsel who receive such a Notice to Appear are expected to be present and prepared to proceed at any time during the time slot indicated (morning or afternoon). To the extent possible, the RPD will ensure that claimants scheduled in the same time slot are represented by the same counsel.