Get Legal Representation

Find out how to get a legal representative. Understand what they do and what you must do. Learn how to get help if you think they are not doing a good job.

Get a Legal Representative

The refugee claim process is complicated. It is a good idea to have a legal representative guide you through the refugee claim process. You are not required to have a legal representative, but they can help you do your best.

When should I get a legal representative?

Try to get a legal representative before starting your refugee claim or as soon as you can. Try to have one help you at your hearing.

Who can represent me?

These people can represent (act for) you during your refugee claim:

  • Lawyer
  • Immigration consultant
  • Notary public (in Quebec)
  • Licensed paralegal (in Ontario)
Law Societies

You want to trust that your legal representative is guiding you well and giving you good advice. Check that they are a member of their professional organization.

Here is the link to the law society in your province:

Law Society of Alberta 

Law Society British Columbia

Law Society of Manitoba

Law Society of New Brunswick

Law Society of Newfoundland and Labrador

Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society

Law Society of Ontario

Law Society of Prince Edward Island

Barreau du Quebec

Law Society of Saskatchewan

Representative without a fee

You are allowed to have someone you trust (such as a family member or friend) give you free help with your claim. This person is called a “representative without a fee.” But always try to get a legal representative.

Work with Your Legal Representative

Choosing a legal representative is very important. Learn how your legal representative should work with you, what they should not do, and what your role is. Find out what to do if you think your representative is not doing a good job.

Your role as the client

Even if you have a legal representative, this is still YOUR claim:

  • Know how much time your representative can give you. This includes emails, phone calls, and meetings. Always prepare first so you can make the best use of their time.
  • Be honest so they can help you in the best way.
  • Take notes when you talk to them. Write down what you need to do next and when. Or ask them for a copy of their notes.
  • Do what they advise you to do. Ask for help when you need it.
  • Give them any evidence and documents they ask for and any new information you have.  Do not send anything to the IRB-RPD without talking to them first.
  • Share any important news about your country with them.
  • Stay in contact about important dates.
  • Make sure they know your current contact information and where to leave messages.
  • Talk about any disagreement you have.

Representing yourself

If you cannot find a representative of any kind, you must do your BOC Form yourself, and go to your hearing.

If you do not have legal help: 

  • Read the Claimant’s Guide.
  • Read Legal and Policy resources.
  • Read the National Documentation Package for your country.
  • Take a Ready Tour.
  • Register for the MyCase portal. This website allows you to:
    • check on the progress of your claim,
    • update your contact information with the IRB-RPD, and
    • send in evidence for your refugee claim.
  • Use this website as your guide.
  • Read everything the CBSA and IRB-RPD send to you and follow the instructions.
  • Be familiar with your BOC Form, your narrative, and your evidence. Make sure everything in these documents is true. 
  • Get help from family, friends, or other people in the community you can trust. For example, someone who is good at reading and writing might be happy to help you.

Work with Your Interpreter

If you need them, you may work with interpreters:

  • When meeting with your legal representative
  • During interviews with IRCC or CBSA
  • At your IRB-RPD hearing

You can have a free professional interpreter in your language at your eligibility interview and at your refugee hearing. You may not choose the interpreter. 

If you have a legal aid lawyer, legal aid may pay for some interpretation. When you hire a legal representative, you will likely have to pay the fees yourself. In other situations, such as in free legal clinics, a friend, or a volunteer or worker can help interpret for you.

What your interpreter should do

The main role of an interpreter is to make sure everyone can understand each other clearly. 

Interpreters should:

  • Translate exactly or as closely as possible. They should not add anything or leave anything out.
  • Never show if they agree or disagree with something.
  • Keep everything that is said private.

Your interpreter should not: 

  • Give you legal advice or explain what is happening.
  • Say what they think you meant, or shorten or expand what you say.

If you think the interpreter made a mistake or you do not understand something, tell your legal representative, the Member, or the officer.