**As of December 15, 2012, the Personal Information Form has been replaced by the Basis of Claim Form.
One of the most important issues that arise in a refugee claim is establishing that a refugee claimant is credible. The process of establishing credibility begins when the claimant completes and submits the Personal Information Form (PIF). This document forms the basis of the entire refugee process. It is therefore important that the information and details of fear of persecution is properly outlined in an honest, credible and thorough manner.
Although the PIF can be completed by the claimant at the port-of-entry upon entry to Canada, this is not a recommended practice. It is recommended that the refugee claimant consider two options:
- Upon entry the claimant simply confirms an intention to make a refugee claim while providing the basis of such claim, without completing the actual PIF form. The claimant will be given the PIF to submit at a later date which can be carried out with the assistance of the immigration lawyer.
- Upon entry the claimant does not confirm an intention to pursue a refugee claim and does so only after being admitted into Canada.
The PIF contains 44 questions many of which must be completed in detail. With the help of the translator the claimant should be encouraged to provide such detail in a chronological order with dates, places and persons who form part of the narrative of the events supporting the claim. During the hearing the claimant will be giving oral testimony which should be complemented by the PIF. Credibility is gained or lost on the basis of how oral testimony or subsequent questioning by the Board members is consistent with the information contained in the PIF.
There are a number of related issues that can impact on the success or failure of a refugee claim. Further information may be obtained by contacting Colin R. Singer, Attorney –[email protected].
Canada is a signatory to the 1951 Geneva Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and its 1967 Protocol. Each year Canada grants permanent residence to approximately 30,000 refugees under an elaborate refugee protection process comprising of two main components, the Refugee and Humanitarian Resettlement Program administered outside Canada and the In-Canada Refugee Protection Process.
A convention refugee is a person who owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality and is unable to or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country.
A person in need of protection is a person in Canada whose removal to their country of nationality or former habitual residence would subject them to the possibility of torture, risk of life, or risk of cruel and unusual treatment or punishment.
The majority of approved refugees are granted asylum status inside Canada and make their claim at a Canadian port of entry or at an inland Canada Immigration Centre office.
Once a CIC officer decides that a refugee protection claimant is eligible to be referred, the claim is sent to the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) where a hearing takes place before an independent tribunal comprised of Refugee Protection Division members who determine whether the claimant is a convention refugee or a person in need of protection.
The hearing although non adversarial in nature usually takes place in the presence of the applicant’s legal counsel and the government’s refugee claims officer. If approved the claimant may apply for permanent residence from within Canada. The process generally concludes in about 18 months.
Prior to the hearing claimants may be entitled under Canadian law to obtain employment authorization or student authorization.
Certain categories of individuals are not eligible to have their claim referred to the IRB.
There are a number of issues that can impact on the success or failure of a refugee claim. Further information may be obtained by contacting Colin R. Singer, Attorney [email protected]