Further to the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada’s recent announcement that all in-person hearings, other than detention reviews, will be postponed until further notice effective March 17, 2020, the Immigration Division is taking steps to protect the health and safety of hearing participants while continuing to hold detention review hearings in accordance with statutory time-limits.
The following mitigation measures have been put in place at all Immigration Division hearing sites effective immediately, until further notice:
- Minimizing the transportation of detained individuals to IRB premises. Instead, every effort will be made to hold detention review hearings with the person concerned participating by telephone or video-conferencing.
- Establishing a means by which other hearing participants, for example counsel, hearings officers and bondspersons, can take part in hearings by telephone or video-conferencing should they wish to do so. Hearing participants who wish to participate in a hearing remotely should make a request to the Immigration Division registry in the region where the hearing is taking place.
- Implementing active screening procedures at each hearing site. Anyone entering a hearing site will be asked a series of health-related questions and those who are determined to pose a risk will be asked to leave the premises. In the case of individuals whose attendance at a detention review hearing is required to allow the hearing to proceed, they will be asked to contact the Immigration Division registry by telephone immediately to determine whether alternative arrangements can be made for them to participate in the hearing remotely.
Parties and representatives with an upcoming hearing who have concerns regarding its scheduling, who are experiencing respiratory illness symptoms, or who have travelled outside of Canada in the past 14 days are asked to contact the Immigration Division registry at the earliest opportunity regarding next steps.
Region-specific operational guidance and procedures will be communicated directly to the counsel community and other stakeholders by the responsible Assistant Deputy Chairperson.
The Immigration Division is closely monitoring this evolving situation and may make further changes to its operations as warranted. Any such changes will be communicated to the counsel community and other stakeholders in a timely manner.