Bill C-31, also known as the Protecting Canada’s Immigration System Act introduced strict timelines to Canada’s refugee determination process. The Canadian government has now introduced the Regulations which provide specifics as to the new timelines.
Time limits for scheduling the first-level hearing, for filing and perfecting an appeal and for making a decision on an appeal will be as follows:
- The Basis of Claim document shall be submitted not later than 15 days after the referral of the claim to the Immigration and Refugee Board, if the claim is made at a Port of Entry. If the claim is made at an inland office, the required documents and information would have to be submitted at the time of the eligibility interview. Port of Entry claimants would be given an extra 15 days to complete the Basis of Claim, which Inland claimants must submit at the time of the eligibility interview.
- Hearings at the Refugee Protection Division shall be scheduled for a date that is not later than 30 days after the claim is referred for inland Designated Country of Origin claimants, not later than 45 days after the claim is referred for Port of Entry Designated Country of Origin claimants, and not later than 60 days after the claim is referred for non-Designated Country of Origin claimants.
- In the case of all claims entitled to an appeal to the Refugee Appeal Division, appeals shall be filed and perfected not later than 15 working days after the claimant or the Minister receives the notice of a decision and the reasons for the decision from the Refugee Protection Division.
- A decision on an appeal shall be made by the Refugee Appeal Division not later than 90 days after the day on which the appeal is perfected. These time limits would not apply where an oral hearing, rather than a paper-based review, is considered to be required.
In what is probably a silent nod to the criticism that the above timelines are both potentially unfair and simply unworkable, the Immigration and Refugee Board will have the flexibility to extend these time limits to accommodate vulnerable claimants, receive security screenings and clearances, consider issues of natural justice, and delay hearings and decisions because of operational limitations or where it is not possible to comply with the above.
As well, the Regulations will restrict access to work permits for Designated Country of Origin claimants, unless they receive a positive decision on their claim from the Refugee Protection Division, or 180 days have elapsed with no decision on their claim. The work permits that have already been issued will not be revoked, but they will not be extended.