For refugee and immigration lawyers
Expedited refugee protection
Legal Aid Ontario has begun interim measures to reduce its immigration and refugee programming effective April 16, 2019.
People from certain countries who want to make a claim for refugee protection may qualify for approval without a hearing. If you are from one of the countries designated by the Immigration and Refugee Board's Expedited Policy, you will be issued a legal aid certificate to cover your legal costs.
The expedite certificate pays a lawyer for 10 hours of work, including:
- the preparation and filing of your Basis of Claim (BOC), and
- the preparation and filing of any other required legal documents (e.g., disclosure, submissions).
Questions and answers for lawyers
The following information gives answers to common questions from lawyers.
1. If my client's claim is expedited, how many hours of work will be paid for by Legal Aid Ontario?
LAO provides 10‑hour expedite certificates to cover the cost of preparing the Basis of Claim and any submissions or evidence counsel may send to the Refugee Protection Board (RPD) in support of the claim. As expedite processing is paper‑based, there is no preparation for or attendance at a hearing so hearing tariff hours do not apply.
2. Are my disbursements covered?
The same disbursements currently available to you by the seven‑hour BOC certificate will continue to be available to you on expedite matters.
3. What is the process for obtaining expedite certificate coverage?
The client requests legal aid for an expedite claim by contacting the Client Lawyer Service Centre at 1‑800‑668‑8258. LAO will issue a 10‑hour expedite certificate for BC and supporting documents preparation. Counsel will submit the BOC to LAO as per the usual process.
4. What happens if, after I obtain an expedite certificate, the matter proceeds by way of a full hearing?
If a matter for which you have a 10‑hour expedite certificate goes to a full hearing, please upload the Basis of Claim form and Notice to Appear in the lawyer portal and request a six‑hour hearing preparation and attendance authorization. The six‑hour authorization will be added to your 10‑hour certificate.
5. I may not be notified by the IRB that a claim has been accepted under the expedite process until a week or two before the scheduled hearing date. What do I do then?
Counsel is expected to act in the best interest of her/his client and may begin preparing the client for the hearing ahead of the scheduled hearing date (two weeks prior is suggested). In these circumstances, counsel will be paid for hearing preparation despite the fact that the claim subsequently proceeds without a hearing.
Counsel can request that LAO add a six‑hour authorization for hearing preparation if necessary to safeguard the interests of the client by uploading a request in the lawyer portal.