Information for lawyers

For refugee and immigration lawyers

LAO continues its modernization journey based on the following key principles:

  • “Phased-in” changes to refugee service delivery and implementation through regularly-evaluated pilot programs
  • On-going consultations
    • the Refugee Law Services Operations Review Committee meets monthly and consists of lawyers, paralegals, community agency, clinics, and staff, who advise LAO
    • the Refugee Lawyers Association meets bimonthly
  • Assessments of service delivery needs as phases unfold

Certificate eligibility, effective June 8, 2015

LAO has expanded legal aid coverage in refugee and immigration law in the areas of Humanitarian and Compassionate (H&C) applications, stay motions and deferral requests. This expanded coverage only applies to certificates issued on or after June 8, 2015.

Note to criminal counsel: Certificates are now available to the financially-eligible accused who may not reasonably be risking loss of liberty but who, if convicted, face significant secondary consequences. Among those consequences is the risk of deportation.

Staff office and clinic options

Applicants without counsel

An applicant for legal aid without counsel will be presented with a choice of three service provider options (private bar, staff office, clinic), rather than being directed or “streamed” to a particular service provider. It will be up to the applicant to decide which service provider best meets his/her needs.

Quality panel: Refugee Protection Division, Refugee Appeal Division, and Federal Court

LAO's board has approved the following updated refugee panel standards:

  • A general standard for Refugee Protection Division and Immigration Appeal Division work as well as detention reviews and applications for humanitarian and compassionate consideration, pre-removal risk assessments, and danger opinions
  • An appellate standard for matters before the Refugee Appeal Division and the Courts.

On-going consultations

The Refugee Services Operations Review Committee meets monthly and will provide LAO with feedback on modernization including initiatives related to merit screening, referrals and panel standards. In addition, meetings are held every two months with the Refugee Lawyers Association (RLA), and twice a year with LAO Board’s Immigration and Refugee Law Advisory Committee.

Help for clients

Clients can contact the client service centre at Legal Aid Ontario’s toll-free number at 1-800-668-8258 between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. or visit our website for more information on refugee and immigration law, and services for refugee claimants.


If you have any questions or require further information please contact:

Jawad A. Kassab - LLB, MDiv, MBA
Executive Lead, Refugee Services Transformation
Legal Aid Ontario
Telephone (416) 979-1446 x4705
Fax (416) 979-2948

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