Question: What is a refugee hearing?
Answer: A refugee hearing is your chance to tell your story to a decision maker, a public servant known as a Refugee Protection Division Board Member. It is a hearing where you will be asked why you came to Canada to claim refugee protection and why you fear future persecution in your country on the basis of your race, nationality, religion, political opinion or particular social group (such as your gender, gender identity or sexuality). Whether you fear torture, a risk to your life or cruel and unusual punishment will also be decided. These details have been provided by you in written form while claiming for refugee protection, thus based on the documents you present at your hearing and your testimony, the Board Member will decide whether you are a refugee or a person in need of protection.
Question: What can a refugee claimant expect the day of the hearing?
Answer: The hearing takes place in a hearing room. The Member, a translator if you require one, your lawyer or representative as well as any support persons will be with you. A representative of the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration may also be present. You will be asked to swear that you will tell the truth and then you will be asked questions by the Board Member and by your lawyer about why you fear returning to your country of origin. Your lawyer will have a chance to talk about why your claim should be accepted. A decision on whether you are or are not a refugee could be given verbally at the end of the hearing or you may need to wait to receive a copy of the written decision in the mail.
Question: Does CPRP handle these types of cases?
Answer: CPRP is always looking to ensure the protection of client rights in the refugee law system. We want to hear about cases where your legal rights may have been violated and we will work with you to determine whether challenging the constitutionality of these recent changes could be challenged. We are here to assist you and advocate for you as a refugee claimant.
Question: What are some of the issues relating to human rights in the new refugee program?
Answer: Refugee rights advocates have identified a number of human rights issues with recent Government legislation. Specifically, recent changes have:
- Imposed unreasonably short deadlines on asylum-seekers, thereby preventing claims from being properly presented
- Imposed one year of automatic detention on certain refugee claimants
- Designated countries as safe when in fact they are not safe for certain groups of claimants, such as women survivors of violence or sexual minorities
We believe that the recent changes may violate the equality rights of some refugee claimants under section 15 of the Charter and the section 7 Charter rights to life, liberty and security of the person.
Question: How does CPRP prepare for hearings?
Answer: We prepare an extensive collection of documents for our refugee claimant clients, including a great deal of evidence about how they are treated in their country of origin. The key strategies in our success is accurate preparation which includes strong supporting evidence. We meet with our clients to help them clearly answer practice hearing questions. We are also available to answer questions about the process. This is a nerve wracking and important moment and we are here to assist you and advocate for you as a refugee claimant.
Question: When should I apply for refugee protection?
Answer: You should make your claim for refugee protection at the earliest opportunity. You can either make your claim at the place where you enter Canada, called a port of entry, or you can make your claim at an in-land office which means Citizenship and Immigration Canada Office inside Canada. No matter where you make your refugee claim, you must take all of your identity documents with you. You will be asked to fill out a number of forms about your background and your family and explain why you fear returning to your country of origin.
- If you claim when you enter Canada an officer will decide if you are eligible to claim refugee protection. If you are eligible you will be given a date for your refugee hearing as well as a number of forms, including a Basis of Claim form, to complete. These forms must be submitted within 15 days.
- If you make your claim at an office in Canada you must prepare all of your forms before you make your claim and bring these forms with you to the inland office.