Thousands of refugee claimants from all parts of the world come to Canada every year to seek protection from persecution in their home countries. It is important for those seeking protection to understand the process for having their refugee claims determined, whether it be a claim that has been initiated at a border point (or Point of Entry), or whether it is a claim that is made inland. In either case, effective legal representation by an experienced refugee lawyer is vital in ensuring that one’s case is properly and fully presented before the Immigration and Refugee Board.
If a claim is made at the Port of Entry, a claimant will have completed Immigration Forms with an immigration officer and be given a Notice to Appear specifying the date on which their refugee hearing will take place. At this time, the claimant will also be given a Basis of Claim Form to complete, which must be filed with the Immigration and Refugee Board within 15 days. This is a strict deadline which must be met in order to ensure that one’s refugee hearing proceeds.
The Basis of Claim form (BOC) is the most important document in the claim, containing a narrative of the significant events that have led the claimant to fear persecution in their home country. Assistance with the preparation of this document by an experienced refugee lawyer will ensure that all the relevant and necessary information in one’s case is put forward. A poorly prepared or incomplete BOC may have an adverse impact on the outcome of one’s claim, and it is important to take great care to ensure that this document is accurate and complete.
If a claim is made Inland (when a claimant is already in Canada) the claimant will need to complete Immigration Forms and the Basis of Claim Form, and present it to an immigration officer to initiate a claim. The claimant will then be given an appointment to return for an interview with an immigration officer at a later date, at which time the claimant will be given a Notice to Appear specifying the date on which their Refugee Hearing will take place. This date is by law set no later than 60 days after the interview date.
Whether a claimant has already initiated a claim at a Port of Entry, or whether a claimant wishes to make a claim inland, it is important for those seeking to retain legal counsel to do so as soon as possible.
Depending on financial eligibility, a claimant may qualify for Legal Aid funding for assistance by a lawyer in the preparation of their Basis of Claim Form, as well as for representation by a lawyer at their Refugee Hearing. Whether the claimant has made a claim inland or at the Port of Entry, once a claimant contacts our firm, assistance can be provided in arranging for an application for Legal Aid funding to be made on the claimant’s behalf.
Services provided by legal counsel in preparation for a claimant’s refugee hearing include meetings with the claimant to prepare for testimony at the hearing, as well as assistance with preparation of personal supporting documentation and country documentation, which are important components of a refugee claim.
Our firm’s extensive experience with refugee law, combined with our commitment to those seeking Canada’s protection, ensures that our clients receive effective and dedicated representation throughout the process of advancing their refugee claims.