For refugee and immigration lawyers

Questions & answers

These will be updated as more information becomes available.

Questions and answers about interim measures concerning refugee and immigration law services

Starting April 16, 2019, and until further notice, new Basis of Claim‑only legal aid certificates will be issued to refugee claimants for preparation of Basis of Claim forms. No certificates will be issued for refugee hearings, appeals, or other types of immigration or refugee matters. While these interim measures are in place, refugee hearing coverage will not be authorized using Basis of Claim certificates.

Subject to discussions with staff and stakeholders, LAO's staff offices in Toronto, Hamilton and Ottawa will focus on filling gaps, especially in appeals and for vulnerable and detained refugees.

Questions you may be asked by clients, and answers

Are existing refugee and immigration legal aid certificates still valid?

All certificates issued, up to and including April 15, 2019, remain valid as long as the client is still financially eligible. If a Basis of Claim preparation certificate is issued on or before April 15, 2019, refugee hearing coverage can still be added once LAO receives the Basis of Claim form. If you have a merit assessment certificate for an appeal or judicial review, full coverage can still be added on review of the lawyer's merit assessment.

If you have an existing federal court certificate and are scheduled for removal, an authorization for a stay motion can be added to that certificate.

Clients who have made an application for a certificate on or before April 15, 2019, will still be eligible for a certificate under the coverage prior to this.

What happens if I have a refugee hearing scheduled?

If you have a legal aid certificate issued on or before April 15, 2019, LAO will still pay your lawyer to go to your hearing if your claim has a sufficient likelihood of success.

If your legal aid certificate for Basis of Claim form preparation was issued after April 15, you will likely wait a long time before your hearing is scheduled. According to the Immigration and Refugee Board, the current average wait time for new refugee claimants is 21 months. Most clients who make a refugee claim in April 2019 will not have a hearing until 2021.

What happens if my refugee claim has just been refused?

If you have just received a notice that your refugee claim has been refused, are eligible to make an appeal to the Refugee Appeal Division, and do not yet have a certificate to cover your appeal, you must file your Notice of Appeal by yourself.

You must file your Notice of Appeal within 15 days of receiving your negative decision from the Refugee Board.

The IRB's Appellant's Guide may also help you.

You may also want to contact your local settlement agency to see if they can help you to fill out your notice of appeal.

If you have access to money to pay for your own service, please do so.

What if my refugee appeal has just been denied?

If you have just received a notice that your refugee appeal has been denied, and if you do not already have a certificate to cover your judicial review, you must file your notice of application for leave and for judicial review in Federal Court within 15 days of being informed by Refugee Appeal Division of the denial.

This Federal Court Guide may also help you.

If you have access to money to pay for your own service, please do so.

What happens if I am being deported?

If your deportation has been scheduled, call the LAO Client Service Centre at 1‑800‑668‑8258. We may be able to help you.

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