While at the interview
Preparing the interpreter
The first step in conducting the interview is to prepare the interpreter. Interpreters play an important and integral part in the interview process, so it is necessary to give careful consideration to their role. Follow the eight steps outlined in the following table prior to beginning any questions related to the refugee’s personal experiences.
- Before interpreters are retained, they should be informed of the standards of confidentiality and professionalism that are expected.
The officer should also inform the interpreter that the information collected in the interview is confidential.
The officer should give specific instructions regarding the conduct of the interpretation where the interpreter is new, or has worked infrequently for the visa office. If the visa office uses a personal services contract, specify these conditions in it.
- The officer must be sensitive to the concerns of female refugees who may find it difficult to relate their stories in front of male interpreters and officers. Whenever possible in these instances, a female interpreter should be used.
- Officers should instruct the interpreter to provide verbatim translation, and whether they want:
- simultaneous word-for-word translation; or
- interpretation at intervals during the applicant’s response.
- The officer should ask the applicant directly whether they can understand the interpreter easily, and then record the question and the applicant’s response.
Observe the applicant’s ability to respond quickly, easily and appropriately to a series of introductory warm-up questions.
The officer must be completely satisfied that every interpreter is fully fluent in the languages of both the interviewer and the applicant, and that the translation is correct and free of bias.
- If at any time the officer is not satisfied that an interpreter is translating accurately, the officer should verify their suspicion by rephrasing the answers that have raised doubts, and ask the applicant to confirm that the officer has understood correctly. If necessary, identify another interpreter or reschedule the interview.
- The officer should also advise applicants to tell them at any point during the interview if there is anything that they do not understand or if there are any other difficulties.
- The officer must record the interpreter’s name and the language used in case notes as many post-interview complaints claim that interpreters misconstrued what was said, or omitted important points.
Confirming refugee information
Applicants may find it easier to relate their story after the officer has dealt with practical matters such as verifying information concerning their personal information and skills. At this time, the officer will need to verify with the applicant information on the IMM 0008E, schedule 2 or the UNHCR’s Resettlement Registration Form (RRF) which includes:
- personal details of accompanying and non-accompanying family members, including bio data and photographs; and
- the following personal information:
Date of birth
At the interview, the officer should ask the refugee to confirm their date of birth (DOB). If the refugee has a government-issued identity document such as a birth certificate, ID card or passport, the DOB on that document should be used. If the refugee has no documentation showing their correct DOB, but the applicant states at interview that they know the correct DOB, then the officer should write that DOB on the application and medical form. If the applicant has an incomplete DOB, the officer should use asterisks in GCMS for the unknown portion. The International Civil Aviation Organization has specifications for documentation used for international travel, including visas.
When the DOB on a visa issued by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) differs from the refugee's registration with the government of the country of refuge, then UNHCR and IOM can create an alias when requesting exit permits and making transportation arrangements.
Listing of all dependants
The visa officers are to counsel refugees at the interview to list all their dependants on their IMM 0008, including those who are accompanying, non-accompanying, missing (whereabouts unknown), or thought to be deceased.
When processing the principal applicant’s case under the private sponsorship program, it is important to ensure that any family members identified on the PA’s IMM 0008 have also been included in the sponsoring group’s undertaking. If family members are not included on the undertaking, their processing under OYW may become complicated if the sponsoring group is unable or unwilling to add them to the undertaking at a later date.
Further, in light of IRCC’s stated objective of family reunification, in cases where the family members’ locations are known, concurrent processing is the preferred option. Sponsoring groups are, therefore, required to make suitable arrangements to facilitate the arrival of the entire family, rather than the principal applicant alone with family members to follow under OYW.
It is, therefore, important that in such cases the visa office contact the local IRCC office, who will contact the sponsoring group in order that they may:
- amend the undertaking to include all family members and
- re-assess the settlement plan; or
- withdraw the sponsorship.
The processing of the principal applicant’s application should not recommence until such time as all family members are included on the undertaking. If the sponsoring group refuses to add all family members to the undertaking and does not withdraw the sponsorship, then the sponsorship application can be refused in accordance with R154(1)(b), as the sponsoring group has not “made adequate arrangements in anticipation of the arrival of the foreign national and their family members in the expected community of settlement.”
If the visa officer feels it is appropriate, the case may be referred to the Resettlement Operations Centre in Ottawa (ROC-O) as a case referred by a visa office so another sponsoring group may be located or, if they meet the Convention refugee abroad class definition, the applicants may be processed as government-assisted refugees (GARs).
UNHCR or Foreign State Refugee Recognition Document (PSRs)
Applicants should be informed in the convocation letters that they must bring their original UNHCR mandate letter of protection or foreign state refugee recognition document to the interview.
Note: Neither a “UNHCR Asylum Seeker Certificate” or a “UNHCR Registration Card” is considered as valid proof of refugee recognition as these documents do not prove that the holder has been recognized as a refugee.
If, at the interview, the officer determines that the UNHCR mandate letter of protection or foreign state refugee recognition document is not authentic or is suspected to be fraudulent, the visa officer should consult the local anti-fraud officer for first level fraud and the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) Liaison Officer for second level fraud and continue with the assessment of the application.
That an applicant has a fraudulent UNCHR or state refugee recognition document or has failed to produce the original one is not in and of itself sufficient grounds to refuse the application. It is a factor to consider along with all others weighing in the decision.
If, after the interview, the officer decides to refuse the application, full and detailed reasons for the decision must be given for refusal.
If the officer decides to accept the application despite determining that the document is not authentic, full and detailed reasons must be given for approval.
The weight given to any factor in a case is determined by the decision-maker. The task is to weigh the facts in a fair and impartial manner, considering both positive and negative elements. Officers should explain in the decision why one factor was considered over another. Officers should focus on factors which are directly applicable to the formation of the decision or those that are particularly significant to support the decision.
Authority to disclose personal information on Schedule A (Background/Declaration) and Schedule 2, part D, of the IMM008
Make sure the principal applicant, his or her spouse or common-law partner, if applicable, and all dependent children aged 18 years or older listed in the application for permanent residence sign the “Authority to disclose personal information” declaration at the time of interview. Officers also need to sign at the same time, as well as an interpreter if one is used.
- Part D of Schedule 2 also needs to be signed by the applicants; by doing so, the applicant authorizes IRCC to disclose personal information to the UNHCR and other third parties for the purpose of processing an application or facilitating settlement in Canada. This covers situations in which an officer is actually releasing personal information to the UNHCR, such as information provided verbally at interview, to confirm verification and authentication of UNHCR documentation by GAR or PSR applicants, as long as doing so is necessary.
- In cases where the visa office receives complete UNHCR Resettlement Registration Forms (RRFs), you may consider using the template at appendix I and attach it to every application for every applicant 18 and over when you prepare files for interview. This template covers information that would be missing in the UNHCR RRF, specifically the admissibility statutory requirements checklist and Authority to Disclose Personal Information and Solemn Declaration.
Processing priority or special program
If the refugee applicant(s) is in need of processing priority or a special program (e.g. JAS), clearly indicate in your notes whether the applicants are being processed as urgent protection, vulnerable, including women at risk or visa office referred (VOR) private sponsorship
- Date Modified: