Getting legal help
If the claimant cannot afford a lawyer:
People with low incomes may be able to get help through Legal Aid Ontario.
A refugee claimant can apply for a legal aid certificate. To qualify, claimants must show that they cannot afford to pay for a lawyer. Legal aid certificates pay lawyers for specific services. They do not pay for the services of consultants who are not lawyers.
Legal Aid Ontario uses a Stream Coded Country List and gives claimants from Stream 1 countries a certificate to pay for seven hours of a lawyer's time to help complete the Basis of Claim Form. For some Stream 1 countries, eligibility depends on the basis of the claim.
Claimants from Stream 2 countries must answer questions about their claim. These claimants will get a certificate only if they show that their claim has some chance of success.
Claimants may also be able to get a legal aid certificate to pay for legal help and representation at the refugee hearing. Legal Aid Ontario will issue a certificate for the hearing only after seeing the completed Basis of Claim Form and concluding that the claim has some chance of success.
Claimants with an appeal in the Refugee Appeal Division may be able to get a legal aid certificate to pay for legal help. Legal Aid Ontario will issue a certificate for a claimant’s appeal only if they conclude that the appeal has some chance of success.
The Refugee Law Office in Toronto is a staff office of Legal Aid Ontario. It can represent refugee claimants who qualify for legal aid.
A community legal clinic may also be able to provide legal advice or make a referral to someone who can. They can also tell you about getting access to services and benefits, such as social assistance. Find a clinic.
You can also look in Getting Legal Help: A Directory of Community Legal Clinics in Ontario.
If the claimant is looking for a lawyer:
Legal Aid Ontario offers a searchable directory of lawyers who accept legal aid certificates. A claimant can search for refugee lawyers by location and language.
A claimant in Ontario can also find a licensed lawyer through the Law Society of Upper Canada's directory of members. Some lawyers who are experts in refugee law are listed in the Law Society's Directory of Certified Specialists – Refugee Protection Law.
If the claimant is looking for information about an immigration consultant:
Immigration consultants who are members of the Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council or paralegals licensed by a provincial law society can also represent claimants.