Refugee Protection Division approach to scheduling

​​​​​​​​​​​​The Refugee Protection Division (RPD) hears and decides tens of thousands of refugee claims annually. The RPD schedules proceedings based on operational and legislative requirements and the principles of natural justice, as well as the principles of fairness, efficiency, public safety and program integrity articulated in the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. In managing its caseload, the RPD seeks to maximize its hearing schedule and minimize the number of postponements and adjournments so it may conduct cases quickly and fairly.

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Scheduling priorities

In general, the following claims are prioritized for scheduling by the RPD:

Scheduling process

​Guideline 6 explains the process the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB) follows to ensure fair and efficient scheduling of its proceedings. The Guideline notes that the IRB has the lawful authority to control its process and to set its own procedures, as long as the principles of natural justice and fairness are followed.

The RPD attempts to accommodate counsel's calendar but is not bound by counsel's availability. As set out in Guideline 6, the RPD may schedule a matter despite counsel not being available. After providing a reasonable number of hearing dates to counsel, which are refused by them, or when dealing with unresponsive counsel, the RPD will proceed with scheduling a hearing, with reasonable notice, as set out below.

  • Identifying files for the scheduling window: Hearings are generally scheduled 2 to 4 months in advance. The RPD identifies all matters that are to be scheduled within the current scheduling window, as guided by the priorities identified above.
  • Contacting counsel to schedule a hearing: The RPD makes efforts to consult with counsel before scheduling a hearing. Generally, the RPD will make three attempts to contact counsel when scheduling hearings. If the RPD does not hear back from counsel, it will notify counsel in writing, and provide a deadline for counsel to contact the RPD to schedule the hearing. If counsel does not contact the RPD before the deadline passes, the RPD will schedule the hearing with at least 60 calendar days' notice.
  • Scheduling when counsel is unavailable: If the RPD is able to contact counsel but counsel does not have any availability within the current scheduling window, the RPD may schedule a hearing on dates where counsel is not available. If this occurs, the RPD will schedule the hearing with at least 60 calendar days' notice.
  • Holding a scheduling conference: The RPD may require that parties participate in a scheduling conference to consult about available dates within a scheduling window, particularly where there are several matters to be scheduled with 1 counsel.

Changing the date and time of the hearing

The RPD expects parties and their counsel to be ready to proceed on the date and time scheduled for the hearing. When the RPD has scheduled a hearing despite counsel's unavailability, parties are expected to act diligently to be prepared to proceed on the date scheduled, and to retain new counsel if they wish.

Parties may make an application to change the date and time of the hearing in accordance with the Refugee Protection Rules if it would be unfair to proceed on the date selected by the RPD. In such circumstances, all applications to change the date or time of a proceeding must include at least three dates and times, which are no later than 10 working days after the date originally fixed for the proceeding, on which the party is available to start or continue the proceeding.

The RPD will usually not change the date and time of a hearing to accommodate counsel who was consulted, or whom the RPD attempted to consult, regarding a hearing date or where counsel is retained after the hearing date is set.

Hearings are virtual-by-default

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, as of January 18, 2021, the IRB has adopted a virtual-by-default approach to all hearings. Until further notice, only remote hearings will be held, with the exception of urgent and particularly sensitive cases.

See the RPD virtual hearings – Guide for parties for information on how to request a hearing at an IRB office.

Short-notice hearings

While older claims are normally scheduled 2 to 4 months in advance, the RPD also maintains a list of claims that are ready to proceed on short notice (within a few weeks). When a hearing slot becomes available on short notice, a claim is selected from this list, and the hearing slot is offered to the claimant and/or counsel.

As long as all the documents for the claim have been submitted, any claimant or counsel may volunteer a claim for a short-notice hearing. To do so, simply contact the RPD via the ​My Case Portal or by email, and provide the case number. The RPD will review the request to see if it can be scheduled on short notice. If so, the RPD will contact all parties when a timeslot becomes available.