A new system that will help more than 64,000 asylum seekers in Canada to get their refugee status, launches this week. It will use a fast-tracked or paper-based approach to process refugee claims, according to the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB).
The IRB has issued documents that describe this new procedure as a “strategic” effort to better distribute the Board’s resources. Other words, a time spent for a particular claim should be proportional to its complexity.
This is a rather renewed approach as the IRB has accumulated some experience to address simple cases in shorter hearings and processing some claims even without hearing.
Starting this week, a refugee claimant won’t be required to arrive in person before the judge, and a renewed “short-hearing” procedure will be done in two hours or less.
To promote the new system, the IRB has verified countries and types of claims which it defines as “appropriate” for the review under these new regulations. Here is a list of countries and claim types:
Iran -particular social groups, gender/age, female gender norms, family violence (against women)
Libya -criminality/corruption, extortion from militias in different cities of Libya, kidnapping or threat of kidnapping and fear of militias
Pakistan – religion: Ahmadis, Christian, Shias
Saudi Arabia – particular social group, gender/age, female
Sudan -political opinion activism, opposing current government, opposing military conscription rate
Venezuela – political opinion, activism and/or organization, anti-government
Turkey – Hizmet
Egypt – Coptic Christians
Afghanistan – all claims
Burundi – all claims
Syria – all claims
Eritrea – all claims
Iraq -all claims
Yemen – all claims
As seen from above, the list encompasses gender-and aged-based claims from Iran, extortion and kidnapping from Libya, religious-based claims from Pakistan, and cases of political or military opposition from Sudan.
Women from Saudi Arabia who fear for their life on the basis of being “female” can qualify for the new paper-based procedure. There are also specific cases from countries such as Venezuela, Turkey, Egypt, Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq, and Yemen.
What are the conditions to become eligible?
The IRB has come up with a list of countries and claim types that have an approval rate of 80% or above are eligible for the new paper-based procedure. This also includes refugee claims that are supported by reliable documents and claims that do not fall under “complex” cases.
Refugee claimants eligible for the short-hearing process should have one or two crucial issues that relate to their identity or the availability of “state protection” in their country of origin.
Cases with an approval rate of 20 or less will also be qualified for the new short-hearing process.
Which claims will be denied for the new procedure?
Some cases will not be eligible for the short-hearing process. Claimants that have a criminal record and any other issues endangering Canada’s asylum system, will be denied.
In a view of this new rule, it is important that the claimant undergoes “front-security screening”, otherwise, he will not be eligible for the procedure.
The fast-tracked process means to grant claimants positive decisions. Otherwise, if this is impossible, the case will be referred to a hearing in person in the presence of a refugee judge who will make a final decision.
The Immigration Refugee Board reserves the right to amend the list of countries and claim types defined as eligible for the new accelerated process. For example, depending on whether circumstances in a particular country get improved or deteriorate.
The program will be run by the Board Policy, Planning and Corporate Affairs division.