For refugee and immigration lawyers
This page includes information and links for refugee lawyers.
LAO’s refugee roster standards
All lawyers who represent legal aid clients must belong to the roster(s) for the type(s) of law they practice. Roster standards help ensure that legal aid clients receive high‑quality services.
The standards for LAO’s refugee roster provide the experience and professional development requirements that refugee lawyers must meet. They include:
- Minimum experience requirements for refugee and immigration general services
For lawyers conducting first instance Refugee Protection Division (RPD) and immigration work.
- Minimum experience requirements for refugee and immigration appellate services
For lawyers who litigate at the Refugee Appeal Division and Federal Court.
Learn more about the refugee roster.
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.
- Learn about coverage for RAD appeals.
- Learn about judicial review merit assessment opinion certificates.
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.
Immigration Detention Representation Program
LAO invites lawyers on the general immigration and refugee law roster to participate in the Immigration Detention Representation Program (IDRP).
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
- Interpreter services
- Refugee lawyer practice manual
- Refugee case law toolkit: A starting place for practitioners
- Training modules and materials for LAO panel members. Log in to LAO LAW, select Learning Opportunities from the main menu.
- Other resources
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.
- Private bar lawyer (use LAO’s Find‑a‑lawyer tool)
- LAO staff office
- A community legal aid clinic
Clients can contact Legal Aid Ontario for more information.
Call us at 1‑800‑668‑8258 (toll‑free), Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., or visit the refugee and immigration law and services for refugee claimants section of this website.