My refugee protection hearing is coming up. What should I bring to it and who should come with me?

My refugee protection hearing is coming up. What should I bring to it and who should come with me?

Make sure you bring all your original documents with you. Also bring any envelopes in which documents were sent to you.

If you have evidence that you did not file before the deadline, bring it to the hearing. You will have to explain why you could not file it on time. The Board member will decide whether to allow the new evidence. They will take into account how important it is and whether, with reasonable effort, you could have filed it on time.

If you have witnesses who will be testifying over the phone, bring their telephone numbers and a phone card if it will be a long distance call.

If you have children who are included in your claim, you must bring them to your hearing as the Board member will need to identify them. If your children are under 18 years old, they will be asked to leave the hearing room before any evidence is heard. If they are too young to be left on their own, plan to have someone there who can look after them in the waiting room or go home with them after the Board member has identified them.

Because there is no way to know exactly when the hearing will begin or how long it will take, bring with you any medicines you need to take during the day. You may also want to bring a snack or a meal. And it is a good idea to bring a bottle of water. Dress neatly and comfortably. Be prepared to spend the whole day at the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB), although most hearings only take half a day.

At the start of the hearing, you will be asked to promise to tell the truth. If you would like to take an oath on a holy book, you should bring the book with you.

If you do not have a lawyer, the Board member may ask you if you are ready and willing to go ahead with your hearing without a lawyer. If you say “no”, the Board member may postpone the hearing so that you have a chance to get a lawyer.

If you are pregnant or nursing a baby, speak to your lawyer about your needs. If you do not have a lawyer, tell the Board member as soon as possible about your needs. The Board Member should allow you the breaks that you need.

Consider bringing a support person that speaks your language with you to your hearing. It can be helpful to have someone with you while you wait. If you would like them to be in the hearing room, you can ask the Board member if they will allow this. But think about whether you would be comfortable with your support person hearing the evidence at your hearing.

If you have asked for an interpreter, it can be helpful to bring a support person who knows your language as well as English or French. They can tell your lawyer (or, if you do not have a lawyer, the Board member) if the interpreter is making serious mistakes.

Getting legal help

Applying for refugee status in Canada is complicated. It is easy to make a serious mistake. It is important to try to get legal help. For more information visit:

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