Information for lawyers

For refugee and immigration lawyers

This page includes information and links for refugee lawyers.

Refugee and immigration e‑bulletin

Get LAO's latest updates for refugee and immigration lawyers.

LAO's refugee panel standards

All lawyers who represent legal aid clients must belong to the panel(s) for the type(s) of law they practice. Panel standards help ensure that legal aid clients receive high‑quality services.

The standards for LAO's refugee panel provide the experience and professional development requirements that refugee lawyers must meet. They include:

  • General standards for lawyers conducting first‑instance Refugee Protection Division (RDP) and immigration work.
  • Appellate standards for lawyers who litigate at the Refugee Appeal Division and Federal Court.

Learn more about the refugee panel.

Go to a list of approved refugee and immigration panel members: General Panel or Appellate Panel.

These lists are current as of October 15th, 2017 and is subject to change. For questions, please email

Practice directions

LAO's practice directions clarify practices and establish expectations for certain aspects of LAO‑funded refugee and immigration services.

Basis of Claim

LAO subject matter experts will assess merit for hearing coverage by reviewing your Basis of Claim (BOC). To request hearing coverage, please upload a copy of your client's BOC as soon as it is filed, along with a copy of any Notice to Appear and/or Confirmation of Referral form.

Refugee Protection Division hearings

LAO subject matter experts will assess merit for hearing coverage, only in cases where a hearing has been scheduled. Where merit is established, a new certificate will be issued for coverage for services leading up to the RPD hearing, including whether the lawyer's account is eligible for more hours to cover the cost of preparing for each subsequent sitting at the RPD and/or the preparation of written submissions. Learn more.

Refugee Protection Division expedites

Effective immediately, claimants who apply for Refugee Protection Division (RPD) coverage will be issued a 3 hour expedite legal aid certificate. Learn more.

Concurrent refugee/immigration service coverage

LAO will fund, where there is merit, multiple refugee and/or immigration services at the same time, based on the recommendation of LAO staff.

Refugee Appeal Division and Federal Court judicial reviews

Only members of LAO's refugee and immigration appellate panel can acknowledge Refugee Appeal Division (RAD) and judicial review certificates and represent LAO clients at the RAD and Federal Court.

Certificate eligibility for H&C applications, stay motions, or deferrals

Clients can make a Humanitarian and Compassionate (H&C) application, stay motion, or a request to defer removal from Canada.

Ongoing consultations

LAO consults regularly with its key stakeholders, including:

  • Quarterly meetings with the Refugee Lawyers Association
  • Bi-annual meetings with LAO Board's Immigration and Refugee Law Advisory Committee.
  • Quarterly meetings with the LAO/Immigration and Refugee Board/Department of Justice /Canada Border Services Agency/Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada committee.

We also consult directly with the refugee bar. Go to our consultation page.

Resources for refugee panel lawyers

Help for clients

A refugee claimant or immigrant legal aid applicant without a lawyer can choose one of three service providers, based on their needs and location.

Clients can contact Legal Aid Ontario for more information.

Call us at 1‑800‑668‑8258 (toll‑free), Monday to Friday, 9 a.m.  5 p.m., or visit the refugee and immigration law and services for refugee claimants section of this website.


If you have any questions or require further information, go to our Questions & Answers page for refugee and immigration lawyers or contact