February 20, 2018 – Ottawa, ON – The Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB) is changing its scheduling practice for refugee hearings and will now be hearing claims primarily in the order in which they were received. The Board will make exceptions for priority claims (such as unaccompanied minors or other vulnerable persons). It may also make exceptions for certain claims or groups of claims where the Board decides to implement specific scheduling strategies to ensure the integrity and efficiency of the refugee determination process.
In December 2012, time limits for scheduling were incorporated into regulations. The result was that new cases had to be prioritized over old ones. The regulations allow for an exception to the time limits due to the operational limitations of the Board. With rising intake, the Refugee Protection Division (RPD) has been obligated to remove a certain percentage of hearings from its schedule under this exception because it does not have the capacity to hear them.
With the significant increase in new refugee protection claims, the waiting time for other matters such as older claims and returns from the Refugee Appeal Division and the Federal Court that must be reheard has also increased. In order to be able to hear all these other matters in a reasonable period, the RPD must remove new referrals from its current schedule at this time due to operational limitations. The IRB will contact these claimants individually when the RPD is ready to schedule and hear their claim.
Under this new scheduling strategy, the RPD is committed to hearing cases efficiently, while adhering to principles of fairness and transparency to claimants.
“Many refugee claimants have been waiting a long time for their hearing. Given the current situation, focusing on hearing our claims in the order in which they were referred, while making room for efficiencies, is the right thing to do.”
- Shereen Benzvy Miller, Deputy Chairperson, IRB Refugee Protection Division
- The Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB) is Canada’s largest independent administrative tribunal.
- The Refugee Protection Division (RPD) is the division of the IRB that hears claims for refugee protection made in Canada and decides whether to accept them.
- Refugee protection claims are heard by independent decision-makers who are highly qualified and well trained. Our decision-makers make well-reasoned decisions based on the law and the information before them on each file. Members seek to render fair and timely decisions on all matters before them.
- Since January 2017, the IRB’s backlog has been growing at a rate of approximately 2,100 cases per month, on average. The largest increase thus far, which was approximately 6,200 cases, occurred in September 2017.
- As of February 1, 2018, the projected wait time for claims for refugee protection before the IRB is approximately 20 months.
- Each refugee protection claim is unique and is determined on its merits, on a case-by-case basis
Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada