The Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) is actively monitoring the evolving situation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has created challenges for parties and their counsel preparing for proceedings. The IRB recognizes that it is appropriate to take measures to help those who have matters before the Board and their counsel follow the proper health protocols required by the pandemic, as well as to ensure proceedings are conducted fairly when they resume.
Therefore, the IRB announces the following special measures, which apply to all four of its Divisions, except where noted:
1) Suspension of in-person hearings
The IRB is suspending, until further notice, all in-person hearings and mediations, except detention reviews and some admissibility hearings involving detained persons.
2) IRB Notice Before Holding a Hearing
The IRB will provide at least 30 days’ notice (“The Resumption Notice”) before proceeding with a previously scheduled in-person hearing or scheduling a new in-person hearing, except detention reviews and some admissibility hearings involving detained persons, subject to the following exceptions:
- Matters which have already had a hearing on the merits and must be rescheduled for a resumption;
- Matters which were scheduled to be heard the week after IRB hearings were first suspended, being those matters initially scheduled from March 17 to March 24, 2020 inclusive;
- Matters where the person who is the subject of the proceedings is detained;
- Urgent or exceptional matters, as determined by the IRB, such as those involving unaccompanied minors or vulnerable persons who require priority processing; and
- Matters where the parties consent to proceeding with less than 30 days’ notice.
3) Application of IRB Rules
When hearings resume, the IRB will be flexible with respect to the application of its rules where the parties have difficulty complying with them due to the COVID-19 situation. However, the IRB seeks the parties’ and their counsels’ cooperation to comply with the requirements of the rules of the Divisions, to the extent possible, to ensure the proceedings will proceed in a fair and timely manner.
4) Time Limits
Where a Division has ordered that a document be provided to it, for example submissions or further evidence, and the time limit for providing that document expired on or after March 16, 2020, that time limit is extended until 30 days after posting The Resumption Notice.
In addition, the following Division-specific time limits have been extended:
The Refugee Protection Division (RPD) has extended the time limit for filing the Basis of Claim Form, as set out in its
Practice Notice on the Temporary Extension of Time Limits for Filing the Basis of Claim Form.
The Refugee Appeal Division (RAD) has extended the time limit for filing and perfecting an appeal, as set out in its
Practice Notice on the Temporary Extension of Time Limits for Filing a Notice of Appeal and Perfecting an Appeal.
The Immigration Appeal Division (IAD) has extended the time limit for filing a Notice of Appeal, as set out in its
Practice Notice on the Temporary Extension of Time Limits for Filing a Notice of Appeal.
5) Communicating with Divisions
The Immigration Division is now accepting communication by email, as set out in its
Practice Notice: Communicating by email at the Immigration Division (ID). The Immigration Appeal Division recently released its
Communicating by email at the Immigration Appeal Division. The RPD continues to accept documents by Canada Post e-Post Divisions are exploring various options to facilitate communication and will provide updates as and when available.
6) Media Access
The IRB recognizes the critical importance of the open court principle, including during the COVID-19 pandemic.
All in-person hearings and mediations, other than detention reviews and some admissibility hearings involving detained persons are suspended until further notice. Where hearings are taking place, they are being conducted by teleconference to protect the health and safety of hearing participants.
Members of the media wishing to access proceedings should contact IRB Media Relations (Media@irb-cisr.gc.ca or Phone: 1-613-670-6854).
Signed April 7, 2020.