Immigration: Canada’s New Refugee Determination System – the Balanced Refugee Reform Act will come into force on June 29, 2012

Bill C-11, the Balanced Refugee Reform Act has received Royal Assent. New Refugee Determination System will improve Canada’s asylum system, resettle more refugees from abroad and make it easier for refugees to start their lives in this country. The changes to the asylum system will come into effect on June 29, 2012. However, changes to the humanitarian and compassionate and temporary resident permit provisions came into effect immediately at Royal Assent.

Canada’s new asylum system

Under these reforms, all eligible asylum claimants will continue to receive a fair hearing based on their personal situation and will have avenues for appeal.

The new measures include:

  • changes at the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB)
  • adding a Refugee Appeal Division at the IRB
  • authority to designate countries of origin
  • identifying manifestly unfounded claims
  • timely removals of failed asylum claimants
  • limits on pre-removal risk assessments
  • changes to the humanitarian and compassionate and temporary resident permit provisions
  • introduction of an Assisted Voluntary Returns (AVR) pilot program
  • enhancing Canada’s resettlement program

Refugee Protection Division

The Refugee Protection Division decides claims for refugee protection made by persons in Canada. Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) decides refugee resettlement claims made outside Canada, in Canadian embassies and consulates. The Refugee Protection Division also makes decisions on loss applications regarding refugee protection status. These applications are filed by CIC.

Canada has an obligation to grant protection to refugees and other persons in need of protection under a number of United Nations conventions, including the:

  • 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees
  • 1966 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
  • 1984 Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

New Provisions Related to “Authorized Representative” Information

Bill C-35, an Act to Amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, came into force on June 30th, 2011. Please note that, under this Act, there are new regulations regarding who may be authorized to represent the subject of a proceeding before the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB). According to these provisions, the following persons may advise or represent another person before the IRB:

  • a member in good standing of the bar of a province (including lawyers or paralegals),
  • a member of the Chambre des notaires du Québec, or
  • a member of the Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council (ICCRC). In Quebec, members of the ICCRC must also be recognized as immigration consultants under Quebec regulations.

Counsel who were members in good standing of the former Canadian Society of Immigration Consultants (CSIC) on June 30, 2011 may still advise or represent persons before the IRB until October 28, 2011.

The IRB requires that the Counsel Contact Information Form be completed and returned to the nearest IRB Registry office to confirm that counsel is authorized to represent the subject of a proceeding before the IRB. If counsel is charging a fee or receiving other consideration, he or she must be authorized to do so under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and related regulations.

If counsel is not charging a fee or receiving other consideration for representing the subject of a proceeding, a Notice of Representation without a Fee or other Consideration form must be completed and returned to the nearest IRB Registry Office.

If the IRB does not receive either form, the council may not be allowed to represent the subject of a proceeding before the IRB, and the IRB will consider this person to be unrepresented.

Why are these changes necessary?

Canada’s asylum system is broken. These changes are necessary to ensure that refugees who need Canada’s protection receive it quickly. Canada’s existing asylum system is crippled by an ever-increasing number of new unfounded claims and it can take years to deal with them. As the Auditor General and refugee advocates have said, this encourages people to make unfounded claims knowing they would be able to live and work in Canada for many years. This reduces our ability to help those who truly need our protection.

Not all asylum claimants are in need of Canada’s protection. Between 2006 and 2008, there was a 60% increase in the number of refugee claims made in Canada. Yet last year, fewer than half, only 42%, of the claims were accepted. This contributes to the growing backlog of approximately 60,000 claims currently pending before the IRB.

These changes to the system are also in response to the unreasonable amount of time it currently takes failed asylum claimants to get a final decision on their claim and be removed from Canada. On average, this process takes 4.5 years with the removal of some failed claimants taking more than 10 years.

Please remember, CP Paralegal Services is always ready to help you with all your immigration matters and provides with paralegal services in Toronto, Aurora, Barrie, Brampton, Burlington, Caledon, Collingwood, Maple, Markham, Mississauga, Newmarket, Oakville, Orillia, Richmond Hill, Scarborough, St. Catharines, Thornhill, and Vaughan.

If you have any questions please contact CP Paralegal Services:

3768 Bathurst Street, Suite 205
Toronto ON M3H 3M7
Phone: 416-671-7670


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