Immigration / Refugee
Refugee Client & Lawyer Rights and Responsibilities
Legal Aid Ontario has begun interim measures to reduce its immigration and refugee programming effective April 16, 2019. The content on this website may not be up‑to‑date and should be used for information purposes only.
A lawyer for a refugee client has a responsibility to give them a copy of the Client & Lawyer Rights and Responsibilities. These standards are in place to protect refugee clients and to better define their relationship with their lawyer.
Rights & Responsibilities
If you claimed at an airport, seaport, land or border crossing, you will get a copy of your Basis of Claim Form (BOC). You and your lawyer have only 15 days to complete your BOC and deliver it to the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB). You must meet with your lawyer as soon as possible because it may take several days for your lawyer to complete your BOC form and deliver it to the IRB.
If you intend to make a refugee claim through the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) eligibility process within Canada, you should meet with your lawyer first. Your lawyer will help complete your BOC form to submit to the IRCC officer as part of the process of starting your refugee claim.
If you receive a certificate for preparation of your BOC and representation before the IRB, Legal Aid Ontario (LAO) will pay your lawyer for these services. Do not pay the lawyer yourself for these services. Do not pay anyone else for these services, either, because these services are provided to you under your legal aid certificate. This certificate covers a limited number of hours for preparation (18 hours for a full hearing, eight hours for an expedite).The time limit for your lawyer’s work on your case includes any work done by a law clerk/paralegal. Time limits also apply to work done by interpreters.
Your lawyer should personally interview you about the contents of your BOC before you sign it.
At all meetings, your lawyer should provide an interpreter if you need one. LAO will pay for the interpreter (up to 10 hours, or more if your lawyer obtains approval). Do not pay the interpreter yourself.
Make sure your BOC is complete, correct in every detail, and you understand it perfectly before you sign it. The BOC is your declaration, so you are expected to understand it. You have the right to correct your BOC, if necessary, before you sign it.
Your lawyer should give you a complete copy of your signed BOC sent to the IRB.
If your lawyer thinks a medical or psychological report is needed for your hearing, your lawyer will send you to a doctor or psychologist to obtain one. LAO will pay your lawyer for this report up to a set amount of money. Do not pay for this report yourself.
Documents which are not in English or French must be translated before they can be sent to the IRB.
If your identity or personal documents need translation, talk to your lawyer about this. LAO will pay for a limited amount of translation. If you have more documents that need translating, your lawyer can ask LAO to pay for more translations if necessary.
Your lawyer should meet with you to prepare you for your hearing and go with you to your hearing unless you agree to be represented by another lawyer.
Your lawyer must tell you who will be working under your legal aid certificate, preparing your BOC with you and going with you to your hearing, and whether or not that person is a lawyer.
Tell LAO, your lawyer, the IRB, and the Immigration Department if you change address or phone number.
Please ask your lawyer whether she/he is on LAO’s Refugee Panel and can accept your certificate if you receive one.
If you have any questions or concerns, go back to the office where you applied for legal aid.