I submitted my refugee claim in Canada and I received a Notice to Appear for my hearing. What will happen during my hearing? How can I prepare myself for the hearing?
The refugee hearing is organized in order to determine if you are in need of protection in Canada or if you qualify as a Convention Refugee. Convention Refugee means that you have a well-founded fear of persecution, the danger of torture, a risk to your life or cruel or unusual treatment or punishment in your country, based on your race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion. It also means your country of citizenship is unable or unwilling to protect you. In the hearing, you will be given an important opportunity to explain why you believe you need protection and why you are claiming refugee status in Canada.
During your hearing, the Board Member of the Refugee Protection Division (RPD) presiding over your hearing will start the hearing process. She or he will ask you questions about your specific case and about your supporting documentation as well the forms you completed when making your claim. Some questions might be hard, and you might get sad or uncomfortable answering them. However, it is very important that you answer all questions as the hearing is about you, your fear. At the end of the hearing, your lawyer will also have an opportunity to ask you further questions and will also provide with oral submission as to why your claim should be allowed based on the evidence submitted, the case law and the regulations. The hearing can take from 1 hour to 5-7 hours and can be adjourned to another day if not concluded. You might get the decision at the end of the hearing verbally – however, this is rare. Most of the time the decision will be sent in the mail about 30 to 60 days later.
Many refugee claimants decided to have legal representation – we highly recommend this given the administrative process behind submitting an adequate and complete refugee claim. Your representative will assist you in preparing for the hearing. This is important as the refugee determination process is complex and involves many different steps and procedures.