Levine Associates has a proven history of success in assisting thousands of refugee claimants who have appeared before the Immigration and Refugee Board over the past 25 years.

Radical Overhaul:

In December 2012, Canada Immigration launched a radical overhaul of the refugee system in Canada.  Until that time claims made in Canada often took two or three years to be heard.  There are now two parallel systems in place.  Claims which were commenced prior to December 2012 continue to be heard using the old system, whereas claims commenced after December 2012 are processed using the new system.  Some of the important differences between the two systems are the following:

  • most claims commenced after 2012 are heard within 60 days of the claimant’s arrival in Canada,
  • claimants now complete a new set of forms and set out their claims in a document called the Basis of Claim or BOC form,
  • claimants must file their BOC forms within 15 days for claims made at the Port of Entry (POE) and immediately upon making an inland claim,
  • post 2012 cases are heard by civil servants not Governor in Council members who were often patronage appointments,
  • most claims made after December 2012 are entitled to appeal their negative decisions to the Refugee Appeal Division (RAD),
  • claimants who made their claims prior to December 15, 2012 do not have access to the RAD but may seek judicial review of their negative decisions,
  • negative decision of the RAD may be judicially reviewed by the Federal Court.

Until December 2012 about half of all refugees who are settled in Canada each year made their claims either at a port of entry (air or land borders) or inland.  However, recent statistics indicate that the refugee intake levels in Canada since December 2012 are down as much as 80%.  Accordingly, if this trend continues, it follows that the majority of refugee claims accepted each year will now be determined abroad.

Basis of Claim

Once claims are determined eligible, claimants are provided with a BOC kit and asked to file their material within 15 days or immediately where claims are made inland.  Claimants should contact a lawyer prior to the submission of the BOC to ensure it contains all the required information.

The BOC will form the basis of the evidence you provide to the Board regarding your claim and will be used at the hearing.  If there are errors in the BOC they may be held against you and seriously damage your prospects for success.

The hearing consists of an attendance before the Refugee Protection Division (RPD) of the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB).  At the hearing, usually a single member of the RPD will consider your claim.  You are entitled to have a lawyer represent you at the hearing.  Your lawyer will be allowed to ask questions, object to improper questioning by the Board and introduce evidence to support your claim.  Your lawyer may also be asked to provide submissions in support of your claim.

At the conclusion of your hearing, the panel member is in the position to render a decision in your case. The panel may render a positive or negative decision, or the member may reserve its decision and provide you with your decision in writing at a later date.  Reserved decisions may be either positive or negative.

Your success rate at the RPD depends on a number of different factors. 

  • Country Profile
    • If you come from a country which produces a large number of refugees the Board will consider your evidence within that context.  Conversely, if you come from a country that does not regularly produce refugees, much of the hearing may be spent having you produce documents to convince the Board that the kind of events you describe do in fact occur in your country.  Under the revamped post 2012 system, the government now compiles a list of “designated countries” which it believes are countries that do not normally produce refugees.  There are a number of significant disadvantages for those making their claims from designated countries, including not having access to the RAD (recently overturned at the Federal Court but under appeal), shorter timelines and delayed eligibility for Permanent Residence upon receiving a positive determination.
  • Evidence
    • Your case will often come down to the strength of your evidence.  This includes your written evidence (BOC), the oral evidence that you provide at your hearing, supporting documentation in the form of affidavits, and objective documentation regarding your country conditions and identity.
  • Panel Member
    • Assessing testimony, particularly where there is often no corroborating evidence in the form of video or photographic evidence, is a very subjective process.   As a result, the panel member who hears your case can have a dramatic impact on the outcome.   Unfortunately, there is no way to predict with any certainty who your panel member will be, nor is there any way to request that a specific Board member hear your case.
  • Your Lawyer
    • You are entitled to have a representative at the hearing to ensure your interests are properly safeguarded.  The more knowledgeable your representative is, the more certainty there will be that your case is heard in a fair way.  In addition to protecting your rights at the hearing, your lawyer must also protect your rights in the event you decide to appeal to the RAD or seek a Judicial Review of a negative decision.  More 50% of cases fail.  It is therefore vitally important that you have a lawyer who can make all the necessary objections to protect your appeal rights.  In most cases, if your representative fails to object to an unfair procedure at the hearing, you will be barred from raising the issue at the Federal Court.

Negative Refugee claims

It is the hope that every refugee claim succeeds.  However, presently the general acceptance rate at the Board is somewhere in the 50-60 % range.  As a result, a sizable number of claimants fail.  Most claims made after December 15, 2012 have the right to appeal to the RAD.  Other claimants may seek to judicial review of their decision at the Federal Court Trial Division.  Levine Associates assists with the review, preparation, and attendance on such RADs and Judicial Review matters.

Unlike the Immigration Appeal Division and the RAD, the Federal Court can only return claims back to the IRB for re-determination when the Federal Court agrees with our submission that a substantive error of law or assessment of fact has been made by the tribunal.  Where leave is granted, it typically takes approximately 6-8 months for a case to work its way through the Federal Court system and then a further several months for a new hearing to be scheduled before the IRB in the event of success at the Federal Court.

Refugee Litigation

Levine Associates’ regularly provides submissions for RAD appeals and attends before the Federal Court of Canada to seek Judicial Review of negative decisions at the Immigration and Refugee Board.

Our Associates work with clients in the following areas:

  • Applications for Refugee Status
  • Pre-Removal Risk Assessment Submissions
  • Appeals to the Refugee Appeal Division (RAD)
  • Judicial Reviews of Negative Refugee claims
  • Judicial Reviews of Negative Pre-Removal Risk Assessments(PRRA)

Levine Associates’ have litigated a body of precedent setting cases, establishing a reputation for diligence and excellence before the courts and in the legal community.

Please contact our firm if you would like to speak to one of our lawyers about your refugee matter.  Our extensive knowledge in the field ensures that we are able to provide you with a comprehensive assessment of your case and your chances of success in light of the relevant legislation, case law, and policy.

Let us help you fight your negative refugee decision or appeal your deportation.


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