Refugee news - Issue 1


Welcome to Refugee News, the first edition of the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada’s (IRB) quarterly newsletter. The Refugee Protection Division (RPD), the Refugee Appeal Division (RAD), and the Legacy Task Force created this newsletter to help refugee protection claimants, appellants and stakeholders navigate the refugee determination process and further understand the work of the IRB. In the newsletter, we will be sharing initiatives, announcements and updates on refugee-related matters at the IRB, as well as links to our YouTube and Twitter pages.

In an effort to be more accessible to our clients and stakeholders, subsequent editions of this newsletter will be web-based and readers will be able to subscribe to receive the newsletter via email. We intend to publish Refugee News quarterly, with upcoming editions set to be published in August and November. We hope, through this method of delivery, to keep our clients and stakeholders better informed and connected to the latest activities concerning claimants and appellants before the IRB.

Shereen Benzvy Miller
Deputy Chairperson
Refugee Protection Division        

Deborah Morrish
Interim Deputy Chairperson
Refugee Appeal Division

Gaetan Cousineau
Legacy Task Force

Receive news alerts by email


An introduction to Canada’s refugee appeal system

  Did you know...
  • that documents can be submitted electronically to the RPD through Canada Post’s secure epost Connect™ service? Learn more; and
  • ​that the IRB now only mails out an abbreviated paper version of the RAD Appellant’s Kit with a negative decision? Learn more.

By the numbers

Refugee cases (as of March 31, 2018)

Refugee Protection Claims (New System)Refugee Protection Claims (Legacy)Refugee Appeals
Intake (12 month ending)52,081 94%N/A5,715 43%
Finalizations (12 month ending)24,053 40%2,567 487%3,272 6%
Inventory (as of 2017-12-31)50,018 127%2,954 46%4,569 115%
Top five source countries pending inventory
*by listed country of alleged persecution
Nigeria (16%)
Haiti (15%)
India (4%)
Pakistan (4%)
China (3%)
China (19%)
Hungary (12%)
Sri Lanka (9%)
Romania (5%)
Nigeria (4%)
Haiti (16%)
Nigeria (14%)
China (7%)
India (7%)
Somalia (5%)

Member complement (full-time equivalent) as of March 31, 2018

Total funded119*internally funded58

Refugee cases for irregular border crossers (as of March 31, 2018)

Refugee Protection ClaimsRefugee Appeals
Intake (12-month ending)23,1101,012
Finalizations (12-month ending)3,457121
Inventory (as of 2018-03-31)20,062891

Announcements and Initiatives

A Look at scheduling in the Refugee Protection Division

In January 2018, the RPD began to focus on scheduling claims predominantly in the order in which they were referred. This approach remains flexible in its application and exceptions are made to ensure program integrity, as well as to realize case processing efficiencies. For example, the Eastern Region is currently scheduling more recently referred claims from claimants who entered Canada between ports of entry, despite older claims still pending in the region. This is being done because the country concentration in this region’s caseload provides the opportunity for significant specialization among members. Country specialization in file assignment allows members to prepare, preside over cases and make determinations more quickly, but no less fairly.

Looking back over the past four months, the benefits of this scheduling approach are apparent. Claims tend to be more ready to proceed as the hearing date approaches because claimants have had more time to gather required documentation and prepare for the hearing with their counsel. Confirmation of Front End Security Screening (FESS), which is provided by the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), is also more likely to be on file. In fact, the number of claims postponed for lack of FESS confirmation decreased to only a handful of claims in early 2018, in stark contrast to 2017, during which 12% of all claims were postponed for this reason.

We continue to work with Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) and the CBSA to align our front-end referrals, particularly around the provision of the hearing date. We recognize that it can be confusing for claimants to receive a hearing date at referral, only to have that date quickly postponed. For now, regional approaches to scheduling will continue to differ slightly. For example, all claims referred to the Eastern Region are currently provided with a “placeholder date” of March 1, 2019, at referral. If a claimant is referred to the Central or Western regions, the referring officer sets a hearing date four to six months from the date of referral. These hearings are being postponed by the IRB and a new Notice to Appear is sent to each claimant when the IRB is ready to schedule and hear their claim.

Temporary procedures regarding the submission of the Basis of Claim Form in Quebec

The temporary procedures put in place last summer regarding the submission of the Basis of Claim Form in Quebec have been extended until further notice.

Please keep in mind that our current expected wait time is approximately 19 months; therefore, if claimants move, they must keep the IRB informed of their current address. This can be done easily with our Notification of Client Contact Information form. We take our returned mail seriously and follow up on each piece by checking with IRCC to see if a more recent address might be on file. If we cannot reach claimants, the claim risks being abandoned due to lack of response. It is incredibly important that claimants keep their contact information up to date with the IRB.

Callout for legacy claimants: contact us to schedule your hearing

On December 15, 2012, the refugee determination system in Canada underwent some big changes. At the time there were 32,000 claims —what the Board calls “legacy claims”— pending from the old system. By April 2017, much progress had been made on eliminating this inventory of claims, but there were still approximately 5,500 legacy claimants who were still waiting for a decision. Appreciating the difficulties that processing delays cause for claimants, the Board decided to take action, and, in the absence of additional funding, reallocated internal resources to fund a legacy task force with a mandate to finalize all remaining legacy claims.

Shortly after the task force was formed, the Board issued a callout to legacy claimants to update their contact information, and to volunteer to have their hearings scheduled by submitting an Intention to Proceed form. As a result of this callout, the legacy task force was able to begin hearing cases in September 2017 and, since that time, has been able to reduce the pending inventory by about half, with more claims scheduled for a hearing from now until July 2018.

In an attempt to continue making progress, the Board is looking ahead and would like to schedule more hearings for legacy claimants in the months ahead. Therefore, we are asking all legacy claimants who have not contacted the IRB to schedule their hearing to do so as soon as possible. If your claim for refugee protection was referred before December 15, 2012, and you wish to schedule a hearing as soon as possible, you may do so by completing the Intention to Proceed Form. Legacy claimants who do not proactively submit this form may also be contacted by the Board at their address on record, to inquire about their intention to proceed.

Publication of RAD reasons of interest

Building a cohesive body of refugee law is an important element of the role of the RAD. Recognizing that all single-member panel RAD reasons are persuasive to RPD members and highly relevant to RAD members, the RAD Professional Development Committee has started to identify and publish select RAD reasons on the IRB's external website. While all published RAD reasons are publicly available on CanLII, the Committee believes that identifying some RAD decisions that match the criteria below will facilitate the professional development and work of members. Highlighting these decisions demonstrates transparency and may assist appellants and stakeholders.

Identified decisions will be periodically selected and accompanied by a brief explanation of how the decision matches the established criteria. So please have a look at these first reasons and keep an eye out for more reasons on the IRB website.

The criteria the Committee will use to evaluate which decisions should be identified as a RAD decision of interest are:

  1. decisions that model a practical or expedient approach to an issue;
  2. decisions that demonstrate a novel or evolutional approach to an issue;
  3. decisions that thoroughly assess a complex issue;
  4. decisions that model excellence in reasons writing; and
  5. decisions that respond to a timely or emerging issue.

Warning – fraudulent phone calls

There have been recent reports of a scam involving the IRB. Victims have reported receiving telephone calls from persons claiming to be representatives of the “Immigration and Refugee Board” and are being told that they are under investigation and owe money.

Granting refugee protection without a hearing (Expedited Policy)

Refugee protection claims made in Canada by people from certain countries may be accepted by the RPD without a hearing, based on a review of the evidence in the file.

Stay connected