Practice Tips
  • Legal Aid Ontario (LAO) Refugee Lawyer Practice Manual: Representing Clients before the Refugee Protection Division (RPD)

This manual is intended to be a guide to best practices for lawyers and supervised paralegals representing refugee claimants before the Refugee Protection Division (RPD) of the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB). The focus of the manual is on effective preparation of the Basis of Claim (BOC) form. It also provides an introduction to filing an appeal at the Refugee Appeal Division (RAD).

  • National Immigrant Justice Center (United States)

The National Immigrant Justice Centre is dedicated to ensuring human rights protections and access to justice for all immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers. For Canadian lawyers, this site may provide an interesting insight into the refugee determination process in the United States.

Country Condition Resources
  • IRB National Documentation Packages

The National Documentation Packages (NDPs) contain a selection of documents on issues that are relevant to the determination of refugee protection claims. They are regularly reviewed and updated according to the information needs of the Refugee Protection Division (RPD) of the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB)

  • Refworld – “Country Information”

Collection of country of origin information, carefully selected from UNHCR, international, governmental and non-governmental sources. This section includes UNHCR country reports, and a wide range of documents from other sources, such as country profiles and assessments, research papers, query responses, and human rights reports.

  • ReliefWeb

ReliefWeb is a leading humanitarian information source on global crises and disasters. It is a specialized digital service of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

  • The Rights in Exile Programme of the International Refugee Rights Initiative (IRRI) – “Country of Origin Information (COI) Expert List”

This list of COI experts and organizations that provide COI can be of use to lawyers in need of expert reports to support asylum cases and other refugee-related legal proceedings.

  • Asylum Research Consultancy (ARC)

In addition to case specific COI research queries, ARC provides country specific and thematic COI research for UNHCR, publishes commentaries on UK Home Office Country Information and Guidance reports (and previously commentaries on the now discontinued Operational Guidance Notes), and commentaries on European Asylum Support Office (EASO) COI reports.

Legal Resources
  • Legal References of the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) of Canada

A discussion of principles emanating from Canadian case-law related to the Convention refugee definition, s. 97 of the Act, as well as credibility assessments.

  • CanLII

Database of Canadian jurisprudence, including IRB, Federal Court, Federal Court of Appeal, and Supreme Court of Canada decisions.

  • Federal Court of Canada – Common List of Authorities: Immigration and Refugee Law

A list of commonly cited immigration and refugee law decisions at the Federal Court of Canada. Authorities included in this list are deemed to be included in the book of authorities prepared by a party pursuant to Rule 70 of the Federal Courts Rules.

  • UNHCR Refugee Status Determination Handbook

The Handbook is intended to guide government officials, judges, practitioners, as well as UNHCR staff applying the refugee definition. It is hoped that it will continue to provide an important reference for refugee status determination around the world and help resolve variations in interpretation.

  • UNHCR “Guidelines on International Protection”

In addition to the Handbook, UNHCR has continued to issue legal positions on specific questions of international refugee law. In this context, UNHCR has gazetted “Guidelines on International Protection”. These Guidelines complement and update the Handbook and should be read in combination with it. Included in the above-described PDF of the Handbook are the first eight (8) Guidelines in the series.

  • The Rights in Exile Programme of the International Refugee Rights Initiative (IRRI)

The Rights in Exile Programme promotes the legal protection of refugees, globally. It does this by centralizing resources for legal assistance providers and refugees themselves.

  • Refworld – “Jurisprudence”

Features a database of national and international jurisprudence, which is searchable by country, publisher, and specific topic. Administrative bodies and tribunal decisions are included.

  • Centre for Gender and Refugee Studies (CGRS) at the University of California – Hastings (United States)

The CGRS database contains information on over 9,000 asylum cases from 1996 and after at all levels of adjudication across the United States. The asylum seekers in most of these cases are women, children, or LGBT refugees. The database is searchable by type of persecution, country of origin, level of decision-maker, and outcome of the claim.

Networks & Associations
  • Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers (CARL)

CARL, which has a membership of over 300 lawyers, academics and law students from across Canada, serves as an informed national voice on refugee law and human rights, and promotes just and consistent practices in the treatment of refugees in Canada. CARL carries out its work promoting the human rights of refugees in the courts, before parliamentary committees, in the media, among its membership via bi-annual conferences, and elsewhere in the public sphere.

  • Refugee Lawyers Association of Ontario (RLA)

The RLA is an association of approximately 300 lawyers advocating on behalf of refugees in Canada.

  • Canadian Council for Refugees (CCR)

The Canadian Council for Refugees is a national non-profit umbrella organization committed to the rights and protection of refugees and other vulnerable migrants in Canada and around the world and to the settlement of refugees and immigrants in Canada. The membership is made up of organizations involved in the settlement, sponsorship and protection of refugees and immigrants. The Council serves the networking, information-exchange and advocacy needs of its membership.

  • Refugee Research Network

The Refugee Research Network (RRN) has been created to mobilize and sustain a Canadian and international network of researchers and research centres committed to the study of refugee and forced migration issues and to engaging policy makers and practitioners in finding solutions to the plight of refugees and displaced persons. This initiative builds on previous efforts towards establishing a global network of researchers in the field of refugee and forced migration studies funded by the Canadian SSHRC Knowledge Cluster program.

  • International Detention Coalition

The International Detention Coalition (IDC) is a unique global network, of over 300 civil society organisations and individuals in more than 70 countries, that advocate for, research and provide direct services to refugees, asylum-seekers and migrants affected by immigration detention.

  • Legal Aid Ontario (LAO) – Immigration/Refugee Law

Call LAO at 1-800-668-8258 to determine if you are eligible for legal aid funding for your refugee claim or immigration matter. Interpreters are available over the phone.

  • by Legal Aid Ontario (LAO)

The information provided here outlines what you will need to make a refugee claim, important deadlines you will need to keep in mind, and helpful resources to get you started.

  • Publications of the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) of Canada

The IRB has published guides for the following categories of people: refugee claimants, appellants of negative refugee claim decisions, immigration detainees, and persons subject to an inadmissibility hearing. The guides are available in many languages.

  • Denise Hansen, “Living without immigration status in Toronto? There are services available for you” (September 3, 2013) Canadian Immigrant, online at

This article describes a small sampling of services available to you should you find yourself residing in Toronto without full immigration status.

  • Wellesley Institute, “Health Care for People Without Insurance in Toronto” (April 2014) online at

This document provides a detailed list of Community Health Centres (CHCs) and sexual health centres in the City of Toronto, which are accessible free of charge even if you do not have health insurance. A map of the CHCs is included in this PDF.