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Mental Illness, Criminal Offences, & Deportation

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Helping a client at the Immigration and Refugee Board

With your client's consent, you may be able to help them through processes at the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB). The IRB is an independent tribunal with the following divisions:

  • the Immigration Division (ID) does admissibility hearings and detention reviews,
  • the Immigration Appeal Division (IAD) decides appeals from some immigration decisions, including appeals of deportation orders,
  • the Refugee Protection Division (RPD) decides refugee claims made by people in Canada, and
  • the Refugee Appeal Division (RAD) decides appeals from some RPD decisions.

Accommodations for "vulnerable persons"

A person whose ability to present their case is severely impaired or who has great difficulty with processes at the IRB, can ask for "procedural accommodations" under the Guideline on Vulnerable Persons.

Vulnerable persons and mental illness
Someone with mental illness might be a vulnerable person.

Any reasonable measure that helps a vulnerable person in the hearing or with other IRB processes can be a procedural accommodation. Examples include allowing a support person to participate in a hearing or creating a more informal setting for a hearing. Requests under the Guideline may be based on medical evidence or observations of a person's behaviour.

If your client has a lawyer, you can suggest helpful procedural accommodations.

If your client does not have a lawyer, you can:

  • inform the IRB about your client's mental health concerns, and
  • explain how your client's illness may affect their ability to present their case.

You can do this by:

  • writing a letter and mailing, faxing, or delivering it to the IRB
  • going with your client to their hearing For more information about the Guideline on Vulnerable Persons, and to find the IRB's contact information, go to the IRB website at www.irb.gc.ca.

Appointment of a designated representative

The IRB must appoint a "designated representative" for someone who is unable to appreciate the nature of the proceedings. The designated representative's role is to help that person understand the process and make decisions in their best interests. For example, the designated representative should help them retain and instruct counsel.

The designated representative can be a family member or someone else who knows the person. If no one suitable is available, the IRB will appoint a professional, often a lawyer or law student. The IRB does not require a designated representative to have training or expertise in mental illness.

If your client has a lawyer, you can:

  • offer to act as the designated representative, or
  • recommend a mental health professional, preferably one who knows your client, to act as the designated representative..

If your client does not have a lawyer, you can:

  • ask the IRB to appoint a designated representative, and
  • offer to act as the designated representative or work collaboratively with whoever is appointed.

You can do this by:

  • writing a letter and mailing, faxing, or delivering it to the IRB
  • going with your client to their hearing
    • For more information about the appointment of designated representatives at the IRB, and to find the IRB's contact information, go to its website at www.irb.gc.ca.