I am applying for refugee status in Canada. I think I need a lawyer with me at my hearing but I have no money. What are my options?

Question: 
I am applying for refugee status in Canada. I think I need a lawyer with me at my hearing but I have no money. What are my options?
Answer: 

Applying for refugee status in Canada is complicated. This website has only basic information about the refugee hearing process. It is important to try to get legal help.

Refugee lawyers know the laws that apply to your case and the rules that must be followed in presenting a refugee claim. A lawyer can help you:

  • complete the forms
  • prepare for your hearing
  • represent you at your hearing

If you cannot afford to pay a lawyer, you may be able to get help from Legal Aid Ontario (LAO). Claimants who qualify can get a legal aid certificate to hire a lawyer. A certificate can pay for specific services.

A legal aid certificate can pay for:

  • your lawyer's time
  • an interpreter for appointments with your lawyer
  • translation of documents for your claim
  • medical or psychological reports

If you have a legal aid certificate, you should not pay for these services.

But there are limits to the amounts that LAO will pay. In some cases, a lawyer can ask LAO to pay more but they will often refuse.

Legal Aid Ontario offers lists of lawyers who accept legal aid certificates. You can search for refugee lawyers by location and language.

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