Representing Yourself at the Immigration and Refugee Board

Representing Yourself at the Immigration and Refugee Board

Have you ever sponsored a relative to come to Canada only to have the application refused? If you sponsored a member of the “Family Class,” you may have received a letter from Citizenship and Immigration that said you could appeal the decision. If you decided to appeal, where should you begin?

Earlier this month, I had the opportunity to ask a few questions to a lawyer for the Canada Border Services Agency who represents Citizenship and Immigration Canada on appeals. Here are the questions and answers.

1. As the lawyer for the government, what kind of family-class sponsorship cases have you been encountering?

The majority of family-class sponsorship appeals are those involving marriage cases.

2. Is it necessary for a person to be represented by a lawyer or a licensed immigration consultant at the Immigration Appeal Division?

It is not necessary to be represented by a lawyer or licensed immigration consultant. Persons may represent themselves or may be assisted by friends or relatives provided that the friends or relatives do not receive any payment for the assistance.

3. What mistakes do “unrepresented” applicants make at the Board?

Persons unfamiliar with an administrative tribunal and its processes may be somewhat intimidated by the process and may find preparing their case difficult. For instance, they may not fully understand the Board’s rules or may have difficulty gathering relevant documents, preparing witnesses, and presenting the case clearly.

4. What do you recommend to persons who want to represent themselves at the Board?
Persons wishing to represent themselves must understand why their sponsorship applications were refused and focus on the issues that resulted in the refusal. They must organize their case, gather evidence, and prepare their documents and witnesses. It is a good idea to attend an actual appeal hearing in person prior to their own appeal; most are public hearings anyway. Above all, being truthful and credible is very important.

For more information, visit a guide to proceedings before the Immigration Division:

This article is prepared for general information purposes only and is intended to provide comments for readers and friends of Filipino Journal. The contents should not be viewed as legal advice or opinion. If you have specific questions concerning immigration law, you should discuss them with a legal advisor of your choice.

Reis Pagtakhan is a lawyer with the law firm of Aikins, MacAulay & Thorvaldson LLP. He practices in the areas of immigration law and corporate and commercial law. His direct line is 957-4640. If you like to know more about Pagtakhan or Aikins, you may visit the firm’s Web site: