Canadian Immigration Court Appeal hearings

Professional interpreters at the courts during refugee hearings

Est. Reading Time: 4min
Category: Interpret
Last Updated: October 29, 2020
By: Larita Gerrissen

Canada is regarded as an immigrant society; immigration policy and principles that are in place are to regulate entry of immigrants into the country. In general newcomers are seen as a national asset and are embraced for society-building. There are several programs in place to facilitate and encourage settlement, integration and citizenship once the newcomers have arrived in Canada.

Canada ranks high among countries regarding immigration on a per capita basis; the result is that foreign born individuals account for just over 20% of the Canadian  population. 

Canadian Immigration categories

Canada has three major classes when it comes to immigration: the Family Class, the Economic Class and the Refugee Class (and Protected Person). The latter is part of Canada’s humanitarian and legal obligations to the world community. Within the Refugee Class there are two categories:

  • Sponsored refugees selected overseas for resettlement.
  • Refugee claimants who seek a protected person status as a result of a positive refugee claim.

Refugee Claimants

A refugee claimant typically has to attend a refugee hearing where a member of the Refugee Board will make a decision on whether to accept or refuse the claim. Refugee hearings are not open to the public, they are held in private in order to protect the refugee claimant and their families. If the claimant would like another person to attend, like a friend, a support person or a witness, they can give permission. 

Canadian Immigration Court Appeal hearingsThe claimant has the right to a hearing in English or French. If they don’t speak English or French, they can ask for an interpreter. The Immigration Refugee Board (IRB) will provide an interpreter for free if one is requested. This is very important as the refugee claimant will need to be able to express him or herself clearly and it is crucial to understand all questions being asked at the hearing.

The request for an interpreter can be made at the time of application on the Basis of Claim (BOC) form. If one did not request an interpreter on the form but changes their mind later or if they would like to change the language or dialect chosen on the form, there is still time to make the request for an interpreter until 10 days before the date of the scheduled hearing. 

Language interpretation

Language interpretation is an essential type assistance for refugees during hearings. Miscommunication can have devastating outcomes, for example it can lead to  incorrect decisions in refugee status determination. Interpreters require training, language resources, and support to perform their task professionally, and to avoid unintended harm from misinterpretation or breaches of ethical boundaries in confidentiality and neutrality.

The government of Canada provides the interpreting services during refugee hearings free of charge. The Immigration Refugee Board has a list of accredited interpreters to choose from. These interpreters are expected to uphold the standards set by the IRB, including the following:

  • Interpretation should be continuous, without breaks and complete.
  • Interpretation should be precise, as close as can be to word-for-word and without summaries or changes in grammar and syntax; it should be in the first person.
  • Interpretation should be impartial; the interpreter is not a witness.
  • Interpretation should be competent; the interpreter must take an oath and should his or her competence be in doubt, an inquiry into competence should be made.
  • Interpretation should be contemporaneous, consecutive, rather than simultaneous.

Professional interpreters

Our professional interpreters here at Calgary Translation Services are certified, accredited and trained to support refugee claimants during hearings and can assist in the process to obtain legal status in Canada. We are currently working with over 3400 certified interpreters and translators. Working with these professionals enables us to offer interpretation and translation services in 100+ languages. If you are looking for an interpreter to assist in the refugee claimant process or at another stage in the immigration process, look no further. Give us a call or send us a message and we will happily provide you with outstanding and impeccable interpretation services!

About the author

Larita Gerrissen

Larita is of Dutch-Indonesian descent; born and raised in the Netherlands with a significant Indonesian influence. She moved to Calgary, Alberta in March 2006. She feels integrating into Canadian society was an interesting part of her journey as she always tries to approach life, and changes or challenges, with an open mind and a curious mindset. Her background of growing up in blended cultures has influenced this open mindedness; she has a deep interest in learning about different cultures.

Larita holds a Bachelor’s degree in History, a diploma in Business Administration and is currently pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Human Services (Social Work). She is dedicated, empathetic and looks at the world through a trauma-informed lens. She has years of experience providing encouragement and support to individuals in challenging situations and is passionate about working with people from diverse backgrounds.