Canada has been long known for accepting refugees from all over the world and offering them protection and safety. After all, it was our Prime Minister who tweeted to the whole world that “Refugees are welcome” here. Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada is the tribunal responsible for adjudicating refugee claims in Canada. Some years ago, because of the influx of refugees into Canada, Immigration implemented a more simplified process for processing some refugee claims. The goal was to streamline these applications and to have them approved without an in-person hearing. Immigration has also put together a list of claims as well as a list of countries whose citizens would qualify for this simplified refugee process.
When Amanda came to our office, her refugee hearing (the one where the Board Member would decide whether she should get Canadian protection) was two months away. It was pretty surprising that Amanda actually had a hearing scheduled – her refugee claim was from one of the countries that was on the list for the simplified procedure. Our surprise, however, quickly morphed into horror once we saw the state of Amanda’s refugee application.
Amanda initially hired a “community helper” to help her with her refugee claim. The helper claimed that he knew how the refugee process works and how the application should be put together. Amanda relied on this advice and followed the suggestions. Upon review of her claim and the refugee story (aka Narrative where the important details of persecution are discussed), it was pretty clear to us that it had to be redone. The story was disorganized, missed a lot of details and did not provide enough explanations for the Board Member.
After an extensive interview with Amanda, we were able to fill in the gaps in her story – Amanda told us later, she planned to provide these details to the Board Member at the hearing as per the advise of the “community helper”. This approach would have been wrong and could have costed Amanda her claim. The refugee application has to be as complete and as detailed as possible and the refugee hearing should be only used to answer some clarifying questions from the Board Member. After reorganizing and clarifying the confusing passages in the application, we submitted an updated application to the Refugee Board.
So what happened next?
A few weeks after submitting the updated application, Amanda was notified by the Refugee Board that her application was placed into the simplified procedure stream. We provided additional documentation in support of the application. A month later, Amanda received refugee status without attending a single hearing. She is now in the process of applying for Permanent Residence.