Gathering evidence to support your claim
How to begin
Try to get documents that can help prove your case. Talk to your lawyer about what kind of documents you can get and make every effort to get those documents right away.
Make a note of every phone call, email, fax, letter, or any attempt you make to get documents. Also keep track of all responses you receive. Evidence of your efforts to get documents can help you at your hearing. If you are unable to get documents to help prove your identity and your claim, you will have to explain at the hearing why you could not do so and what efforts you made.
When you get documents, give them to your lawyer immediately. The sooner you give the documents to your lawyer, the more time they will have to get them translated and filed in time to meet the Refugee Protection Division (RPD) deadlines.
Keep the originals of all your documents. Also keep any envelopes in which documents were sent to you, as you may need to show them during your hearing.
It is important to try to get documents that prove who you are. If Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) or Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) have identity documents of yours—for example, your passport—they will send copies to the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB).
The best proof of your identity is usually a document issued by a government. For example, a passport, a birth certificate, a national identity card or residence card, or a driver’s licence. Other types of identity documents include school records and a baptismal certificate.
If you cannot get any identity documents, talk to your lawyer about other options. You might need to try and get a statement from someone who knows you or has another way to confirm facts about you.
For example, someone who knew you before you came to Canada may be able to testify that you are who you say you are. Or someone from a community organization might be able to interview you and say that you speak a dialect that is specific to a region.
Other types of documents that might help support your claim could include:
- proof of membership in an organization, political party, or religious faith
- police reports
- medical reports (from your country or from doctors who have seen you since you came to Canada)
- human rights reports, such as those from Amnesty International or Human Rights Watch, or newspaper accounts that show what is happening in your country. (The IRB’s website may have a National Documentation Package for your country which contains documents on issues that are relevant to refugee protection claims from your country.)