Acronyms and Glossary
- Abandoned claim
If you miss your Basis of Claim (BOC) Form deadline or your refugee hearing, the IRB-RPD may declare your claim “abandoned.” This means that you will not be allowed to continue with your claim or make another claim in the future. If your claim is declared “abandoned” you can apply to have it re-opened, but this is a very difficult application to win.
- Alternative to Detention (ATD)
An option granted to people who are detained for immigration reasons, whereby they are released from detention, yet remain connected, monitored, or in debt to the Canadian government through agreed conditions such as regular reporting or paying a bond. The Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada – Immigration Division (IRB-ID) decides alternatives for detention conditions for a detained person’s release.
A person who has received a negative decision at the IRB-RPD and is appealing (asking) the IRB-RAD to review the decision.
- Asylum seeker
The word used internationally to describe a person leaving their country to seek refugee protection in another country. In Canada the term refugee claimant is used instead of asylum seeker and usually refers to a person who has submitted an application for refugee protection to the Government of Canada.
- Basis of Claim (BOC) Form
The Basis of Claim form is the most important document from the IRB-RPD that refugee claimants must complete early on in their refugee claim process. It asks for information that will help the IRB-RPD decide on your claim for refugee protection.
- Basis of Claim amendment
If you need to make changes, corrections or additions to your Basis of Claim Form after it has been submitted, this is called a BOC amendment. Any changes to the BOC must be underlined. A declaration stating that the information is complete, true and correct must be attached. BOC amendments must be provided to the IRB-RPD no later than 10 days before your scheduled refugee hearing date.
- Biometric Instructions Letter (BIL)
This is provided as proof that a complete application to an Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) office has been submitted and the biometric fee has been paid.
- Calgary Legal Guidance (CLG)
A non-profit legal organization dedicated to providing free legal guidance to those who do not have access to paid services.
- Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA)
CBSA plays a role in your refugee claim process, by initiating and processing your application to begin your refugee claim at a port of entry, deciding if you are eligible to make a refugee claim, and referring your refugee claim information to the IRB, if eligible.
CBSA is also responsible for controlling Canada’s borders and deciding who can enter Canada and who must leave. CBSA arranges the removal from Canada of refugee claimants who receive a negative decision on their refugee claim and have no other legal options to remain in Canada
- Community Legal Assistance Services For Saskatoon Inner City (CLASSIC)
An organization that provides free, professional and confidential legal services for people who experience poverty and injustice who otherwise cannot afford legal advice or representation.
- Convention Refugee
A person who meets the refugee definition in the 1951 Geneva Convention relating to the Status of Refugees. This definition is used in Canadian law and is widely accepted internationally. To meet the definition, a person must be outside their country of origin and have a well founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion.
In order to be accepted as a Convention Refugee in Canada, the Member of the Immigration and Refugee Board – Refugee Protection Division (IRB-RPD) hearing your case, must also decide that:
- Your government cannot protect you
- You are genuinely afraid to return to your country
- You have good reason to be afraid based on the situation in your country
- You cannot live safely in any part of your country, or it would be unreasonable for you to live in another part of your country
- You are eligible to make a refugee claim in Canada.
- De Facto Family Members
Persons who do not meet IRCC’s definition of a family class member, such as a son or daughter over the age of 19.
- Designated Foreign National (DFN)
A person who arrives in Canada as part of a group of people that the Canadian Government identifies as an “irregular arrival.” DFNs have special rules that apply to their claim process and to their detention.
- Designated Representative
A person chosen by the IRB-RPD who is responsible for protecting the interests of a child under 18 years old or an adult who cannot understand the refugee process on their own. The Designated Representative is usually a parent, legal guardian, family member or friend. When there is no parent, family member, legal guardian, or friend available, the IRB-RPD will hire a person who is willing and able to act as a designated representative.
- Edmonton Community Legal Centre (ECLC)
An organization that provides free legal information and advice to low to moderate income people in the Edmonton area.
- Edmonton Mennonite Centre for Newcomers (EMCN)
An organization for newcomers to find work, learn English, get settled and join a community.
- Excluded person
A person who cannot be considered a “Convention Refugee” or a “Protected Person.” For example:
- A person who has committed a serious crime outside of Canada
- A person who has the right to permanent residence or citizenship in another safe country.
People who are determined to be excluded from making a refugee claim have the opportunity to apply for a pre-removal risk assessment (PRRA).
- File review process (FRP)
This refers to refugee claims that can be decided without a hearing or at a short hearing. The IRB-RPD will notify you if you are being considered for this process. Only claims that will receive a positive decision can be decided without a hearing.
- Humanitarian and compassionate application (H&C)
A person who would not normally be eligible for permanent residence in Canada may be able to apply on humanitarian and compassionate grounds. Permanent residence based on H&C is granted in exceptional cases. Factors that are looked at include:
- How settled the person is in Canada
- General family ties to Canada
- The best interests of any children involved, and
- The degree of hardship that the applicant would experience if the request is not granted and they must leave Canada in order to apply for permanent residence.
H&C decision makers at IRCC will not look at the risk factors that are considered in a refugee claim or a pre-removal risk assessment (PRRA).
- Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada – Immigration Appeal Division (IRB-IAD)
One of four divisions of the IRB, Canada’s largest independent administrative tribunal. This division facilitates appeals on immigration-related matters, including sponsorships, removal orders and residency obligations.
- Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada – Immigration Division (IRB-ID)
One of four divisions of the IRB, Canada’s largest independent administrative tribunal. If a person is detained, they may come into contact with the IRB-ID at their detention review hearing.
- Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada – Refugee Appeal Division (IRB-RAD)
One of four divisions of the IRB, Canada’s largest independent administrative tribunal. Refugee claimants who get a negative decision from the IRB-RPD on their claim for refugee protection can appeal the decision at the IRB-RAD.
- Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada – Refugee Protection Division (IRB-RPD)
One of four divisions of the IRB, Canada’s largest independent administrative tribunal. When found eligible to make a refugee claim by CBSA or IRCC, a refugee claimant will have their claim referred to the IRB-RPD. The IRB-RPD initiates the refugee hearing and makes a decision on the refugee claimant’s protection needs.
- Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB)
The Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB) is Canada’s largest independent administrative tribunal. It is responsible for making decisions on immigration and refugee matters, efficiently, fairly and in accordance with the law. The IRB decides, among other responsibilities, who needs refugee protection. There are four divisions of the IRB: IRB-RPD, IRB-RAD, IRB-ID, IRB-IAD.
- Immigration and Refugee Legal Clinic (IRLC)
Based in Vancouver, an organization that provides free legal advice and representation for low-income people across BC. They focus on assisting individuals and families whose immigration or refugee legal issues are not covered or easy to serve in the traditional legal aid system.
- Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA)
An act that regulates immigration to Canada, administered by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada and Canada Border Services Agency.
- Immigration Holding Centre (IHC)
A facility where you can be detained for immigration-related purposes.
- Immigration Medical Exam (IME)
This is a component of the refugee claim process. This is to make sure you not inadmissible for medical reasons.
- Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC)
IRCC has the overall responsibility for immigration and refugee matters in Canada. It is responsible for selecting and facilitating the arrival of immigrants, issuing visitor visas, and granting citizenship. It is also IRCC that determines the eligibility of refugee protection claims made within Canada and refers eligible claims to the IRB for a decision.
- Interim Federal Health Program (IFHP)
In Canada, the is a program that provides limited, temporary coverage of health-care benefits to people who are not eligible for provincial or territorial health insurance.
- Internal Flight Alternative (IFA)
A legal issue, involved in the refugee claim process, that requires you to show that it is not safe for you to live in another part of your country that you are fleeing.
- Law Students’ Legal Advice Program (LSLAP)
A non-profit run by law students at the Peter A. Allard School of Law at the University of British Columbia. They provide free legal advice and representation to clients in the Lower Mainland who would otherwise be unable to afford legal assistance.
- Legal Aid Alberta (LAA)
A publicly funded, non-profit organization, that provides affordable legal services.
- Legal Aid British Columbia (LABC)
A non-profit organization created to provide legal information, advice, and representation services.
- Legal Aid Manitoba (LAM)
An organization that works to ensure that eligible Manitobans have access to justice through legal representation.
- Legal Aid Ontario (LAO)
An organization that provides legal assistance for low-income people.
- Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Queer (LGBTQ)
Terms to refer to a person’s sexual orientation.
- Manitoba Interfaith Immigration Council (MIIC)
An organization that welcomes and provides settlement services for refugees and immigrants living in Manitoba.
Also known as the Board Member or Decision Maker, this person works for the IRB-RPD and decides on your claim for refugee protection.
This is the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada or the Minister of Public Safety. They are represented by the Minister’s Counsel in the process.
- Minister’s Counsel
A lawyer of the Canadian government working with CBSA (representing the Minister of Public Safety) or IRCC (representing the Minister of Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship). The Minister’s Counsel acts in defense of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.
- National Documentation Package (NDP)
Lists of public documents that provide information on country conditions. This is used as evidence to support a refugee claim.
- Non-Governmental Organization (NGO)
Also known as settlement agencies, service providers, and community organizations, these charitable organizations support refugee claimants in Canada in different ways, depending on their unique mandates.
- Notice of Decision
A Notice of Decision is a written notice that you will receive in the mail that indicates the decision and reasons that are made by the Immigration and Refugee Board – Refugee Protection Division after your hearing. The Notice of Decision will say whether your claim was accepted or rejected and provide the reasons for the decision.
- Notice to Appear (NTA)
The multipage letter a refugee claimant receives from the IRB-RPD notifying them that a hearing date has been scheduled and that the refugee claimant must attend.
- Permanent residence/resident
A permanent resident is someone who has been given permanent resident status by immigrating to Canada, but is not a Canadian citizen. Permanent residents are citizens of other countries.
A person in Canada temporarily, like a student or foreign worker, is not a permanent resident.
Refugees who are resettled from overseas become permanent residents through the Government-Assisted Refugee Program or the Private Sponsorship of Refugees Program.
Someone who makes a refugee claim in Canada does not become a permanent resident at that time. To become one, the Immigration and Refugee Board must first approve their claim. Then, they must apply for and get permanent resident status.
In general, persecution refers to serious harm that threatens or violates human rights and that is repeated or continuous. The legal definition is complicated. It is recommended that you consult a lawyer to know how the definition applies to your refugee claim. Torture, beatings, death threats, forced sterilization, forced female circumcision, forced marriage, imprisonment for non-violent political activities, and rape are examples of persecution.
- Person in Need of Protection
A person in Canada whose removal to their country or countries of nationality or their country of former residence (if they do not have a country of nationality) would face: danger of torture by the authorities in their country, or a risk to their life or to a risk of cruel and unusual treatment or punishment.
In order to be accepted as a Person in Need of Protection in Canada, the Member of the Immigration and Refugee Board – Refugee Protection Division hearing your case, must also decide that:
- Your government cannot protect you
- The risk is specific to you
- The risk is not because your country wants to punish you for an act which is a crime in Canada, and
- The risk is not because of inadequate medical care in your country
- You are eligible to make a refugee claim.
- Port of Entry (POE)
A place where a person may seek legal entry into Canada, such as at an airport, marine or land border crossing.
- Pre-removal Risk Assessment (PRRA)
An IRCC process that evaluates whether a person would face persecution, torture, risk to life or risk of cruel and unusual treatment or punishment, if returned to his or her country of origin.
- Pro Bono Law Saskatchewan (PBLS)
A non-profit, non-government organization that provides free legal advice to low income clients in Saskatchewan. PBLS operates and partners with 14 free legal clinics across Saskatchewan. PBLS tries to fill the gap of legal services between government funded legal aid and hiring a private lawyer.
- Programme régional d’accueil et d’intégration des demandeurs d’asile (PRAIDA)
An organization that contributes to the well-being of asylum seekers and their families while respecting their rights and dignity. Its mission is to facilitate the settlement and integration of asylum seekers in Quebec.
- Protected person
A person who has been determined to be:
- A Convention refugee or person in similar circumstances by a Canadian visa officer outside Canada
- A person whom the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada has determined to be a Convention refugee or a Person in Need of Protection in Canada, or
- A person who has had a positive pre-removal risk assessment (in most cases).
- Ready Tour
A free learning event for refugee claimants to help them get ready for their refugee hearings. Register here.
- Refugee claimant
A person who has applied for refugee protection while in Canada and is waiting for a decision on their claim from the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada – Refugee Protection Division.
- Refugee Protection Claimant Document (RPCD)
You will receive this after your refugee claim is referred to the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB). This confirms that you made a refugee claim and if you are eligible for health coverage under the Interim Federal Health Program (IFHP).
- Refugee travel document
A document that can be issued to people in Canada with protected-person status to use for travel outside Canada, instead of a passport. The refugee travel document can be used to travel anywhere except the country the person is a citizen of or the country of claimed persecution.
- Removal order
When an immigration official orders a person to leave Canada. There are three types of removal orders (departure, exclusion and deportation) and each one has different consequences.
- Departure Order – A removal order issued by either a CBSA officer or the IRB. Departure orders are issued against people who have violated Canada’s immigration laws. The person named on a departure order must leave Canada within 30 days. If they do not, the departure order becomes a deportation order.
- Exclusion Order – A removal order issued by either a CBSA officer or the IRB. Usually, a person removed due to an exclusion order cannot return to Canada for one year without written permission. People issued exclusion orders for misrepresentation cannot return for five years without written permission.
- Deportation Order – A removal order issued by either a CBSA officer or the IRB. It requires the person to leave Canada due to a serious offense or violation of Canada’s immigration laws. A person deported from Canada may not return without written permission from the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship.
- Safe third country
A country, other than Canada and the country of alleged persecution, where a person may make a refugee claim. In Canada, the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act outlines the criteria for designating a country as a safe third country.
- Safe Third Country Agreement (STCA)
The agreement between Canada and the United States which recognizes each other’s country as a safe country for people seeking refugee protection. The agreement says that a person in need of protection should ask for help in the first country they reach. This agreement impacts people coming into Canada from the United States at any point along the border. If a person crosses the border at any point that is not an official port of entry, and seeks to make a refugee claim within 14 days of arrival, they will be returned to the USA unless they meet an exception to the STCA. Get legal advice before you approach the Canada-USA border to make your refugee claim.
- Settlement Agency
Settlement agencies provide support and services to new immigrants and refugees in Canada. Many of the services that they provide are free and all information is kept private and confidential. Settlement services typically include: help finding housing and employment, English or French classes, help completing documents and applications, and information about other community services, schools and health care.
- Settlement Worker
Settlement workers generally work at a settlement agency and provide one-on-one guidance to new immigrants and refugees in terms of their personal settlement needs.
- Short hearing
Two hour hearings may be scheduled by the IRB-RPD when the IRB-RPD believes there are only one or two issues, apart from the claimant’s credibility, that need to be reviewed to be able to make a decision on the claim.
A person may make a refugee claim based on their “membership in a particular social group.” In Canada there are three possible categories of social groups:
Groups defined by an unchangeable characteristic
Groups whose members voluntarily associate for reasons so fundamental to their human dignity that they should not be forced to leave the association, and
Groups associated by a former voluntary status, unchangeable due to its historical permanence.
- Social Insurance Number (SIN)
This is a 9-digit number, issued by Service Canada, that you need to work in Canada or access government programs and benefits.
- Special hearing
A hearing to decide if your refugee claim will be declared “abandoned.”
You must attend a “special hearing” if you miss the deadline for submitting your BOC form to explain why you did not submit your BOC form on time. If you do not attend this special hearing or do not provide a reasonable explanation, your claim may be declared abandoned. Information about the date, time and location of your special hearing if you do not submit your BOC form within the deadline can be found on your Confirmation of Referral if your claim was made at a port of entry.
You will receive a Notice to Appear informing you of the date, time and location of your refugee hearing. If you do not appear at your hearing, you will be required to attend a special hearing to explain why you did not attend your refugee hearing. Information about the date, time and location of the special hearing on abandonment will also be provided on the Notice to Appear. If you do not attend the special hearing or do not provide a reasonable explanation for missing your refugee hearing, your claim may be declared abandoned. If the RPD declares your claim abandoned, you will not be allowed to continue with your claim or make another claim in the future.
- Stateless person
A person who is not recognized as a citizen by any country. Many stateless people do not hold passports and have difficulty proving their identity. Not all stateless people are refugees and not all refugees are stateless.
The IRB-RPD is an administrative tribunal, not a court. Although administrative tribunals may resemble courts they are not part of the court system in Canada. An administrative tribunal is generally less formal and operates faster than the traditional court system.
While judges in the court system have general knowledge about many areas of law, decision makers at the administrative tribunal are specially trained in making decisions on refugee claims.
- Unique Client Identifier (UCI)
This is the first piece of identification assigned to you by the government of Canada. It is also known as a client identification number (client ID).
- United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)
UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is a global organization dedicated to saving lives, protecting rights and building a better future for refugees, forcibly displaced communities and stateless people. The UNHCR has offices in Canada.
- Vulnerable person
A vulnerable person is someone who would struggle with a regular refugee hearing and needs arrangements made to the hearing to allow them to participate in a meaningful way. A person may be vulnerable because of illness, or age, or because their experiences have been so traumatic that they have trouble describing what happened. What kind of changes can you ask for? For example, if you know you become overwhelmed and confused, you may ask for frequent breaks. If you are a woman who has experienced sexual assault or other problems that would be hard to describe to a man, you may ask for a female Member and female interpreter. If you are traumatized by past events, you can ask for a Member who is especially sensitive to the effects of trauma.
If you are a vulnerable person, you or your lawyer should tell the IRB-RPD immediately. Let the IRB-RPD know what changes to the hearing process would make it easier for you to present your case. In some cases, it is helpful to support your request with a letter from a doctor. If the IRB-RPD decides that you are vulnerable, they will make special arrangements to make it easier for you to testify (it does not mean that you are a “Convention Refugee” or “Person in Need of Protection”).