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New legislation changes Canada’s refugee claim process

Canada’s new refugee law system (Bill C-31) went into effect on December 15, 2012. The new refugee process radically reduces the time from applying for refugee status to the time of a hearing, and introduces a limited appeal process, among other process changes.

The Basis of Claim form (BOC) now replaces the Personal Information Form (PIF). The BOC requires a claimant to answer very specific questions about their refugee claim. There are three other new immigration forms as well.

People from the new “Designated Countries of Origin” (DCOs), who apply inland, will have just 30 days from being found eligible to make a claim to the time of a Refugee Protection Division (RPD) hearing. Those from DCOs who make a claim upon arrival at an airport or a land border (a “Port of Entry”) will have only 45 days. People from all other countries will have only 60 days.

Some claimants whose claims have been denied at the RPD hearing will have the right to apply for an appeal to the Refugee Appeal Division (RAD). They must prepare their appeals within 15 days and file their documents within 30 days. RAD appeals are not available to:

  • claimants from DCOs,
  • people whose claim started under the old system, and
  • people whose claims were found not credible or “manifestly unfounded.”

Many failed claimants will be removed from the country before having time to apply for a Pre-Removal Risk Assessment (PRRA) or Humanitarian and Compassionate application (H&C). See our July 2012 ELAN entry regarding changes to the PRRA and H&C process. Note that failed claimants from DCOs now have a three-year waiting period before they can apply for a PRRA.

LSS encourages all refugee claimants to contact legal aid as early in the process as possible. A new legal aid immigration phone line has been created for intermediaries and clients to directly access specialized immigration intake staff. Call 604-601-6076 in Greater Vancouver; elsewhere in BC, call 1-888-601-6076 (no charge). Intermediaries can also email intake at immigration.intake@lss.bc.ca.

Refugee claims started before December 15, 2012, will continue to be determined under the existing system. For more information, see the Citizenship and Immigration Canada website.

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