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Hot off the press: Need Help with Your Refugee Claim?

needHelp WithYourRefugeeClaimThis bilingual infocard for refugee claimants is now available (online or print) in two versions: English/Spanish and English/French. The infocard encourages claimants to contact legal aid as soon as possible. It highlights legal aid coverage for refugees and the new LSS immigration phone service, as well as the intake hours at the Vancouver legal aid office.

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.

Hot off the press: Update insert for Your Guide to the Refugee Claim Process

We’ve published an update insert for the booklet, Your Guide to the Refugee Claim Process, to account for changes to the refugee claim process brought about by Bill C-31. The English update is now available on the LSS website as a stand-alone PDF and also within the online English version of the guide.

The update is also coming soon in simplified Chinese, French, and Spanish.

Changes to the refugee claim process

On June 28, 2012, Bill C-31, titled the Protecting Canada’s Immigration System Act, received royal assent and is now law. The bill makes a number of changes to the Canadian immigration system. While most of the changes won’t come into effect until sometime in the future, a number of changes are already in effect. These changes limit when people can apply for pre-removal risk assessments (PRRAs) or humanitarian and compassionate (H&Cs) consideration. This means that some information in the LSS publication, Your Guide to the Refugee Claims Process, is no longer correct. There are three major changes that should be noted:

  1. After receiving a negative final decision on a refugee claim from the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, there is now a one-year waiting period before claimants can apply for a PRRA.
  2. Previously, claimants could apply to stay in Canada on H&C grounds at any point during the refugee claim process. Now, applications can no longer be submitted while a refugee claim is pending. As well, failed refugee claimants are barred from filing an H&C application for one year, unless there is a risk to life due to inadequate health or medical care, or if removal would have an adverse effect on the best interests of a child.
  3. On an H&C application, Citizenship and Immigration Canada will no longer consider whether a person faces risk if returned to their country (this change occurred as of June 29, 2010).

The incorrect information in the current booklet concerns H&C applications and is primarily in the H&C chapter. A short update for Your Guide to the Refugee Claims Process about the H&C and PRRA changes will be available in the near future.

For more information on these changes, please see the Citizenship and Immigration Canada website.

Today is World Refugee Day!

Celebrate World Refugee Day today. World Refugee Day has been officially adopted by the United Nations, and also marks the anniversary of the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees.

For those of you in the Lower Mainland, the Surrey/North Delta Settlement Consortium has partnered with the City of Surrey, which has the largest refugee population in the greater Vancouver area, to host an event to celebrate refugees and welcome new residents. The Surrey/North Delta Settlement Consortium includes Options Community Services Society, Progressive Intercultural Community Services (PICS), S.U.C.C.E.S.S. Foundation, and DIVERSEcity Community Resources Society.

Location: Guildford Recreation Center, 15105 – 105 Avenue, Surrey
Date and time: July 20, 6:00 – 8:00 p.m.

For more information on World Refugee Day, visit the United Nations website.

Hot off the press from LSS: Your Guide to the Refugee Claim Process (French)

Your Guide to the Refugee Claim ProcessThe French version of this publication, Votre guide du processus de demande d’asile, is now available online only.

The booklet explains the process of seeking refugee protection in Canada. It has straightforward information about how to start a claim in BC, the overall process, how to fill out the forms for each stage, and where to get legal and other help. This booklet combines and replaces the Refugee Fact Sheet Series.

Please visit the LSS website for more information about Your Guide to the Refugee Claim Process, which is also available in Chinese (simplified), English, French, and Spanish.