OTTAWA — Federal Court judges hear appeals and judicial review applications from a wide range of processes and decision-makers in immigration, refugee and citizenship cases. But only a small percentage of those decisions ever make it to Federal Court. Here's a short overview.
THE IMMIGRATION AND REFUGEE BOARD
The IRB, Canada's largest independent administrative tribunal, makes decisions on immigration and refugee matters. It has three divisions, with a fourth on the way.
- The Refugee Protection Division (RPD) rules on claims for refugee protection made by people already in Canada. Last year, it finalized 32,634 claims for refugee protection, accepting 38 per cent of those. In the first six months of this year, it accepted 37 per cent of the 17,021 claims it dealt with.
- The Immigration Division (ID) conducts immigration admissibility hearings for permanent residents or foreign nationals who may have contravened the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, as well as detention reviews in cases involving permanent residents or foreign nationals. Last year it concluded 2,779 admissibility hearings and 13,888 detention reviews. Between Jan. 1 and June 30 of this year, it concluded 1,322 admissibility hearings and 5,939 detention reviews.
- The Immigration Appeal Division (IAD) hears appeals on immigration matters, including appeals of removal orders and appeals by sponsors whose applications to bring family members to Canada have been denied by Citizenship and Immigration Canada. In 2010, it finalized 7,019 cases and concluded a further 3,537 in the first six months of this year.
- Next June, a new Refugee Appeal Division (RAD) will come into being, staffed by people appointed by cabinet. It will hear appeals of decisions made by public servants at the IRB's Refugee Protection Division. Only after the RAD has ruled will claimants be able to apply to the Federal Court for judicial review.
CITIZENSHIP AND IMMIGRATION CANADA
CIC has overall responsibility for immigration and refugee matters. Among other responsibilities, it selects those who can immigrate to Canada, issues visas to visitors, students and temporary workers, grants Canadian citizenship and decides who can apply to the IRB for refugee protection.
Last year, CIC officers made nearly 450,000 decisions for permanent resident status, approving about 281,000 of those. That included 13,283 decisions from applicants seeking permanent residence on humanitarian and compassionate (H&C) grounds. Those came from people already in Canada who must convince a CIC officer that they would suffer excessive hardship if they had to return to their home countries to apply for permanent residence. CIC officers approved 63 per cent of the H&C applications they ruled on in 2010.
Another group of CIC officers considers Pre-Removal Assessment Risk (PRRA) applications from unsuccessful refugee applicants who have been given a removal order and argue they face a risk of persecution, torture, death or cruel and unusual treatment or punishment if removed from Canada. These are rarely successful; last year, PRRA officers upheld just 89 applications in 6,601 decisions.
As well, citizenship judges evaluate and rule on applications from permanent residents for Canadian citizenship. In 2010, they made 153,825 decisions, approving more than 93 per cent.
CANADIAN BORDER SERVICES AGENCY
CBSA officers admit people to Canada. At ports of entry such as airports, seaports and Canada-U.S. border crossings, they receive refugee claims and refer them to the IRB. The agency detains people who it deems are a security risk or a danger to the public. It also removes people deemed inadmissible for serious criminality, security reasons, financial reasons, misrepresentation or other causes.
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