Appealing refugee decisions

Can I appeal?

If your refugee claim is rejected, you might be able to appeal to the Refugee Appeal Division (RAD). However, you are not allowed to appeal if:

  • If you are a designated foreign national (DFN)
  • If your claim was withdrawn or abandoned
  • If you arrived in Canada directly from the United States and made your refugee claim at an official border crossing
  • If your decision says your claim has no credible basis or is manifestly unfounded
  • If your refugee claim was started before December 15, 2012

What if I cannot appeal a rejected refugee claim?

If you are not eligible to appeal, you can apply for judicial review at the Federal Court. This is different from an appeal. Talk to a lawyer about your options. You will only have 15 days to start a judicial review.

Should I get legal help?

Appeals are complicated and preparing on your own will be difficult, so you should get legal help right away. You can get help from a lawyer, paralegal, and notary in Québec or an immigration consultant registered with the Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council (ICCRC), but only lawyers can appear at Federal Court. These are the only people allowed to represent you for a fee. Others such as friends, family members or community groups can represent you, but only if they are not charging you a fee.

How long do I have to start an appeal?

You have to start your appeal 15 days after you get your written reasons from the Refugee Protection Division (RPD). To figure out your deadline, count fifteen days on a calendar starting from the day after you get your written reasons. If the 15th day is a weekend or a holiday that the Refugee Appeal Division (RAD) is closed, your deadline will be the next business day.

How do I start an appeal?

There are two steps to start an appeal:

1. Day 15: Notice of Appeal

Your notice of Notice of Appeal is due within 15 days of getting your written reasons. You should submit three copies to the Refugee Appeal Division (RAD). List every family member who is part of your claim or submit separate forms.

2. Day 30: Appellant’s Record

Your Appellant’s Record is due within 30 days of getting your written reasons. This step is called “perfecting” your appeal. Your Appellant’s Record will include all of the materials to be considered on your appeal in a specific order and your written submissions. You should get help with your Appellant’s Record. Preparing supporting documents and submissions takes special skill and knowledge, and there are specific rules that need to be followed. It is also important because your appeal will probably be decided on your written materials without a hearing. You can learn more about the rules for starting an appeal in the Appellant’s Guide. Instructions on the appeal process are also available in various languages.

What if I miss the deadline?

If you miss the deadline for your Notice or Appeal or Appellant’s Record, you could lose your right to an appeal. However, you can make an Application for an Extension of Time to File or Perfect an Appeal explaining why you missed your deadline. You should talk to a lawyer or legal representative about your options right away. You need to submit an Appellant’s Record with your application for an extension. You can learn more about the Appellant’s Record in the Appellant’s Guide and Kit.

Can I submit new evidence?

Yes. You may be able to submit new evidence for your refugee appeal, for example if you were not able to get it on time for your refugee hearing or it was not accepted. You should include your new evidence in your Appellant’s Record. You can also submit any new evidence to respond to the Minister’s submissions, if they have intervened in your case. You can learn more in the Appellant’s Kit.

Will I get an appeal hearing?

Most appeals are decided on your written materials. This means that you will probably not get a “hearing” for your appeal. If you want a hearing, you have to include a seperate written statement asking for one in your Appellant’s Record. You will usually only get an appeal hearing if you have new evidence that:

  • shows that there are serious issues about your credibility;
  • is “central” to the decision made on your refugee claim; and
  • provides a good reason to accept or reject your claim

You have to request an appeal hearing in your Appellant’s Record. If your request for a hearing is accepted, you will get a Notice to Appear for a Hearing. You can learn more about refugee appeal hearings in the Appellant’s Kit.

What does it mean if the Minister ‘intervenes’?

The Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) may decide to become involved in your refugee claim or appeal. They can then submit evidence and arguments about why your claim or appeal should not be allowed. This is called a Minister’s intervention. If this happens, you would be sent a Notice of Intervention. You would also be sent copies of the Minister’s written materials and arguments. You have 15 days to reply to any materials the Minister submits. More information on how to reply to a Minister’s intervention will be available in the Appelant’s Guide and Kit.

What happens after my appeal?

There are different decisions that could be made on your appeal:

  1. The Refugee Appeal Division (RAD) could grant your refugee claim

  2. The RAD could send you for a new hearing at the Refugee Protection Division (RPD)

  3. Your appeal could be dismissed. You might be able to apply for a judicial review of this decision.

The RAD can make a decision on your appeal 15 days after your last materials are due—either your Appellant’s Record or your Reply Record. A decision will usually be made before 90 days, but sometimes it is much longer.

What happens if my refugee appeal is rejected?

  • you may be able to apply for judicial review at the Federal Court to challenge the decision of the Refugee Appeal Division (RAD)
  • you may be able to apply for a Pre-Removal Risk Assessment (PRRA) in certain cases if you are at risk in your home country, though most individuals will not be permitted to submit a PRRA within one year of the refusal of their refugee claim.
  • you may be able to make an application to stay in Canada on humanitarian and compassionate (H&C) grounds in certain limited cases, though most individuals will not be permitted to submit an H&C applicationuntil after one year has passed since the refusal of their refugee claim. There are exceptions to this 1‑year bar, if a child would be directly affected or if the applicant’s life would be at risk in their country because there is inadequate medical or healthcare.

If your refugee appeal is rejected, you may get a removal order from the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA). Talk to a lawyer right away if this happens.