Can I appeal an immigration decision in Canada? | Fighting refusals

Not every immigration decision is in the applicant’s favour. Unfortunately, immigration officers refuse some of the applications for various reasons. However, can you appeal an immigration decision in Canada? Is there a court system that could resolve the unfavourable decision? Let’s explore your options.

What does an appeal to an immigration decision mean?

Let’s say you have the right to appeal. You may then take the matter to the Immigration Appeal Division (IAD). The IAD decision-maker (member) hears your arguments and could decide in your favour. In other words, IAD has the power to decide your case without sending it back to an immigration officer. Of course, IAD is a division of the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB), the largest administrative tribunal in Canada.

Right to appeal an immigration decision in Canada

The Immigration Act (IRPA) offers the right of appeal in the following situations.

When do I not have the right to appeal?

You may not file for an appeal if you are inadmissible on the grounds of security, violating human or international rights, serious criminality or organized criminality (exceptions apply). Misrepresentation also disqualifies people from filing for an appeal (exceptions apply). Consult a professional for more information about disqualifying factors.

If none of the above conditions in the previous section applies, you do not have the right to appeal. Unfortunately, you do not have the right to appeal in any of the following examples:

Of course, this list is not complete, but it can give you an idea of the limitations you could face.

Judicial Review

If you do not have the right to appeal an immigration decision, you may consider filing for judicial review (JR). The process will be through the Federal Court. You need to hire a lawyer to assist you with a JR filing. However, if you win the case, IRCC has to reopen your application and review it again. In other words, winning an appeal means the approval of the application. However, winning a JR means reopening the application. Of course, exceptions apply.

Please also consider my more comprehensive article about appeals and judicial review.

Request for reconsideration

Let’s say you face refusal but do not have the right to appeal the immigration decision. In these situations, you may contact the immigration officer and ask for a reconsideration of their decision. You usually use the IRCC web form for this purpose. Of course, you must share convincing reasons with the officer. The reconsideration process is not official. Therefore, the officers often refuse or even ignore such requests.

Appeal for refugee applications

If the Refugee Protection Division (RPD) refuses your refugee claim, you may file for an appeal. The entity in charge of such appeals is the Refugee Appeal Division (RAD), a division of the IRB.

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    Al Parsai, LLM, MA, DTM, RCIC
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    Adjunct Professor – Queen’s University – Faculty of Law
    Ashton College Instructor – Immigration Consulting
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    Al Parsai

    This article has been expertly crafted by Al Parsai, a distinguished Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant (L3 RCIC-IRB – Unrestricted Practice) hailing from vibrant Toronto, Canada. Al's academic achievements include an esteemed role as an adjunct professor at prestigious Queen's University Law School and Ashton College, as well as a Master of Laws (LLM) degree from York University. A respected member of CICC and CAPIC organizations, Al's insights are further enriched by his experience as the dynamic CEO of Parsai Immigration Services. Guiding thousands of applicants from over 55 countries through the immigration process since 2011, Al's articles offer a wealth of invaluable knowledge for readers.