The IRB resumes “pre-COVID” in-person hearings

immigration and refugee board of canada

Since early May 2020, the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB) is transforming its operating model. The IRB revised its processes by:

1. deciding less complex refugee claims without a hearing;

2. allowing virtual hearings; and

3. adjusting in-person hearing practices based on public health policy.

immigration and refugee board of canada

COVID-19 has had a significant impact on our operations, and has required us to rethink our processes, approaches and hearing models. As we learn from experience, and with your valuable input and advice from others, we have and will continue to adjust our practices.

Richard Wex, Chairperson of the IRB

Paper-based file review

The Refugee Protection Division (RPD) has recently revised the criteria for the Task Force to assess a claim’s eligibility. In the near future, the RPD will allow counsel to request a paper-based file review as well.

Remote hearings

The Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada held virtual hearings since late June at the Immigration Appeal Division, and early July at the RPD.

Further, the IRB is anticipating to create lists of counsel and claimants who wish to participate in remote hearings by early October.

Currently, the IRB is considering to arrange for claimants and appellants to attend virtual hearings in their offices while counsels participate remotely.

In-person hearings

In late July 2020, the IRB resumed in-person hearings in Vancouver, and at the beginning of August 2020 in Toronto and Montreal.

To meet physical distancing requirements, the IRB kept tribunal members and interpreters off-site or in different rooms than claimants, appellants and their counsels. 

Based on recent experience, the IRB will return to its pre-COVID model for refugee hearings, detention reviews and admissibility hearings with all parties in the same hearing room starting mid September 2020.

On August 27, 2020, the IRB updated several safety and health measures

Visitors must complete a self-assessment questionnaire before and upon arrival.

In the week of September 14th, 2020, all parties must wear non-medical masks in hearing rooms, subject to exemptions.


Information provided in this article does not constitute immigration or citizenship advice. Only authorised representatives are allowed to assist applicants with immigration and citizenship services for a fee. In addition, immigration laws, regulations, and policies are changing constantly.

If you need help with the assessment of your case, then obtain sound advice from Mrs. Katharina Kontaxis, RCIC. Only with a proper case strategy can you reach your goal of Canadian permanent residence or Canadian citizenship.

KIS Migration offers a full range of Canadian Immigration and Citizenship Consulting Services in English, French and German. Its business model of Keeping It Simple is key to success. Everyone’s path to Canada is unique! KIS Migration assists you on your journey to Canada while making the process easy for you. Let KIS Migration help you realize your Canadian Dream!

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