Apart from appeals, the types of litigation that will sometimes arise in the immigration context may be loosely described as hearings. These are generally held before the Immigration and Refugee Board, which is an administrative tribunal, or in some cases interviews may be held before immigration officers. Persons engaged in the hearing process will have an opportunity to testify before a decision-maker and may be represented by a legal counsel.

Type of Hearings:

Refugee Hearings

Refugees are persons who fear for their lives or safety in their home country, where the authorities of their home country are unable or unwilling to provide them with effective protection. Canada has a long-standing humanitarian tradition of providing surrogate protection to refugees. Refugee status may be applied for by people entering Canada, for example at an airport, or by people who are already in Canada. The process of claiming refugee status in Canada begins by making a refugee claim either upon entry into Canada or at a later date after already entering Canada. Claimants will be provided with an opportunity to attend a hearing at the Refugee Protection Division of the Immigration and Refugee Board where they will personally present their case to a Board Member who will decide whether or not to grant them refugee protection. Successful refugee applicants may apply for permanent residence in Canada. If a refugee claim is refused an appeal may be made to the Federal Court.

Inadmissibility Hearings

Certain categories of foreign nationals, including those who have already obtained temporary resident or permanent resident status, are by law inadmissible to Canada. These include persons with criminal convictions, persons who have not complied with the terms and conditions of their admission to Canada, and persons who have misrepresented themselves to the immigration authorities, among several other categories. Those the immigration authorities suspect are inadmissible may be required to attend an admissibility hearing before the Immigration Division of the Immigration and Refugee Board. The purpose of such a hearing will be to determine if the person is in fact inadmissible to Canada and should be removed from Canada.

Admissibility Hearings

In some instances the immigration authorities will detain foreign nationals (including temporary residents and permanent residents), if they are of the opinion the person may pose a danger to the public, is unlikely to appear when so required by the immigration authorities, or if the person’s true identity is in question. A person detained by the immigration authorities will have the reasons for their detention reviewed by a judge at detention review hearings, where they may present evidence to show why they should be released, and present offers to post bail in order to secure their release. These hearings are conducted by the Immigration Division of the Immigration and Refugee Board. When a person is first detained, they will have a detention review hearing after 48 hours. If they are not released their next hearing will be in 7 days. After that, they will have a detention review hearing every 30 days. At each hearing the Board Member must review all the evidence and make a fresh determination as to whether or not the person should be released from detention.

Interviews with Immigration Officers

In some cases persons who have made an application or who are otherwise of interest to the immigration authorities will be called in to an interview before an immigration officer. The purpose of such an interview is generally to gather information and/or to give the person concerned a chance to respond to any concerns the immigration authorities may have prior to making a decision in their case. As these interviews are often critical to the success of an application, it is advisable to be well prepared and to have a legal counsel to represent you at the interview.