Representation for Immigrants and Refugee Claimants

Appendix 1 Interview Guide - Claimants, Appellants, Detainees, etc. (continued)

2. General questions for all respondents

2.1 Initial perception of needs

The following questions should be asked to ascertain the respondents' perception of their needs when they first became involved in immigration-related legal proceedings before the proceedings got under way. It is anticipated that responses will be quite diverse. Depending on responses received, interviewers should probe further with follow-up questions to clarify the needs identified.

  • 2.1.1 What did you think you would need by way of advice and other assistance at the beginning of the process, that is when you: [as the case may be for each individual respondent]
    • were first summoned to an immigration inquiry?
    • made your refugee claim?
    • initiated your immigration appeal?
    • were first detained?
  • 2.1.2 Has that perception changed? How has it changed? Why?

2.2 Expectations with regard to representation

The following questions are directed to determining whether the respondent has sought or is seeking the assistance of an agent or intermediary to act as the respondent's representative in immigration and refugee proceedings before the Canadian authorities. Specifically, the questions are intended to elicit information on the sort of representation sought and the respondents' expectations regarding representation.

  • 2.2.1 Do (did) you have a person to represent you in the immigration and refugee proceedings in which you are (have been) involved? What sort of representative?
    • Lawyer in private practice
    • Lawyer at a legal aid office
    • Non-lawyer at a legal aid office
    • Immigration consultant
    • Community service worker
    • Friend or relative
    • Other (specify)
    • No representative
  • 2.2.2 Did you apply for legal aid? Was your application accepted?
  • 2.2.3 [For respondents who were not represented by a lawyer] Why were you not represented by a lawyer?
    • Do (did) not know how to find a lawyer
    • Non-lawyer representative meets needs
    • Did not apply for legal aid
    • Applied for legal aid, but not eligible (merit/income)
    • Legal aid not available
    • Other (specify)
  • 2.2.4 Has anyone other than the person who represents (represented) you helped you with your case? [Question is directed to identifying persons who provided any sort of help, not just representation; could be more than one person. If respondent had such help, interviewer should ask follow-up question to find out what sort of person(s) helped the respondent.]
    • Lawyer in private practice
    • Lawyer at a legal aid office
    • Non-lawyer at a legal aid office
    • Immigration consultant
    • Law student
    • Community service worker
    • Friend or relative
    • Interpreter
    • Other (specify)
    • No one
  • 2.2.5 What sort of help have you received?
    • Moral support
    • Assistance on ancillary matters such as housing, welfare, language training
    • Practical advice on how to present case (e.g., where to go, what to say)
    • Legal advice (e.g., explanation of what is required how process works)
    • Assistance in preparing case
    • Other (specify)
  • 2.2.6 Did more than one person help you with your case? Please elaborate. [If respondent was helped by more than one person, interviewer should ask follow up questions to ascertain the sort of help each person provided.]
  • 2.2.7 Have you used any information from government sources in preparing your case? What sort of information?
  • 2.2.8 Which government agencies have provided this information?
    • CIC
    • IRB
    • Other (specify)
  • 2.2.9 How did you acquire that information (e.g., brochures, telephone inquiries, Web sites)?
  • 2.2.10 Have you used information from UNHCR or from non-government sources in preparing your case? What sort of information?
  • 2.2.11 Which agencies (UNHCR or which specific non-government agency) provided this information?
  • 2.2.12 How did you acquire this information (e.g., brochures, telephone inquiries, Web sites)?
  • 2.2.13 Knowing what you now know about the process in which you have been involved [immigration inquiry/refugee claim/detention review/immigration appeal], what sort of help do you feel that you need (or that you needed)? Please explain?

2.3 Choice of representative

The following questions are designed to explore the dynamics behind respondents' choice of persons to assist them in preparing and presenting their cases. Questions should be adapted as required when dealing with unrepresented respondents.

  • 2.3.1 Have you chosen (or do you want) a particular person to represent you in proceedings before the Canadian immigration authorities?
  • 2.3.2 Please rate the importance of each of the following factors in your choice of a person to act as your representative in proceedings before Canadian immigration authorities? For each fact, please indicate whether it was not a factor, it was a consideration, or it was a decisive factor.
    • Languages spoken by representative
    • Ethnicity of representative
    • Expertise of representative
    • Gender of representative
    • Knowledge of representative about my country of origin
    • Cost
    • Recommendation by someone I trust
    • Accessibility of representative's office
    • Advertising
    • Other (specify)
  • 2.3.3 Did anyone recommend the person you have chosen (want) as your representative? Who made the recommendation?
    • Family
    • Friend
    • Community leader
    • Interpreter
    • Community service worker
    • Legal aid office
    • Immigration officer
    • Other (specify)
  • 2.3.4 On the same three-point scale mentioned above, how important was (is) that recommendation to your choice?
  • 2.3.5 How would you feel if you had an assigned representative whom you had not chosen? Please explain.
  • 2.3.6 Would it make any difference if you knew that the assigned representative had extensive experience with cases like yours?

2.4 Communication with representative

The following questions are directed to eliciting information about respondents' experience with persons who have represented them in immigration and refugee proceedings. These questions can be skipped for unrepresented respondents.

It is difficult for respondents to provide an informed assessment of their representative's competence. However, they are able to comment on their subjective impressions of persons who have represented them and on the empathy shown to them by the representative. They are also able to comment on the clarity and timeliness of communications they have received from their representative, and on the ease with which they have been able to contact the representative when necessary.

  • 2.4.1 What were your initial impressions of the person who is acting (has acted) as your representative in immigration and refugee proceedings in Canada when you first met that person?
  • 2.4.2 Is (was) language a problem for you in dealing with your representative? Do [did] you need an interpreter? Who provides (provided) the interpreter?
  • 2.4.3 Do (did) you understand what your representative (has) told you? Do you feel that your representative understands (understood) what you told him/her?
  • 2.4.4 How much time has (did) your representative spent (spend) with you prior to your hearing?
  • 2.4.5 Has your representative kept you informed on a regular basis regarding developments in your case?
  • 2.4.6 Are (were) the explanations and the information that your representative has given (gave) to you clear and easy for you to understand?
  • 2.4.7 Has it been easy for you to contact your representative or someone from your representative's office when you have needed advice?

2.5 Case preparation

These questions are directed to examining the extent to which respondents have been involved in preparation of their cases, and to the quality and importance of work done by the representative. Questions 2.5.2 - 2.5.9 can be skipped for unrepresented respondents.

  • 2.5.1 How involved would you like (have liked) to be in the preparation of your case?
  • 2.5.2 Have you been able to give your representative all the information you want to give concerning your case? Please elaborate.
  • 2.5.3 Have you had any problems discussing important aspects of your case with your representative?
    • Insufficient time
    • Do not (did not) know what information to provide
    • Can not (could not) remember important points
    • Frightened or confused
    • Not comfortable with representative (Why?)
    • Details embarrassing to discuss
    • Other (specify)
  • 2.5.4 [For refugee claimants] Did you have an opportunity to review your personal information form (PIF) with your representative and an opportunity to suggest changes before you signed it? [If not, interviewer should ask respondent to elaborate.]
  • 2.5.5 [For refugee claimants] Does the information in your PIF correspond with what you told your representative? [If not, interviewer should ask respondent to elaborate.]
  • 2.5.6 Do you feel that your representative understands the basis for your case? [If not, interviewer should ask respondent to elaborate. To help respondent understand this question, interviewer should relate it to the specific type of case in which the individual respondent is involved - i.e., refugee claim, immigration appeal, detention review, or immigration inquiry.]
  • 2.5.7 Do you have any concerns about the way in which your claim is being (has been) presented? [If yes, interviewer should ask respondent to elaborate.]
  • 2.5.8 Have you been able to provide suggestions regarding witnesses and documents to be presented at the hearing of your case? Have your suggestions been followed?
  • 2.5.9 Could you have prepared the case on your own? Was the contribution by your representative necessary for the preparation of your case? Please elaborate.

2.6 Representation at hearings

These questions apply only to respondents who have had a hearing. The questions are intended to shed light on the respondents' experience in relation to the hearing and their assessment of the role played by their representative and other participants at the hearing. When interviewing unrepresented claimants, questions pertaining to persons acting as their representative should be adapted or should be skipped entirely, as appropriate in the circumstances of the individual interview.

  • 2.6.1 How did your representative prepare you for the hearing?
  • 2.6.2 Do you think you were adequately prepared for the hearing?
  • 2.6.3 Was the hearing as you expected it would be from what your representative had told you? [If not, interviewer should ask respondent to elaborate.]
  • 2.6.4 Should your representative have done more to prepare you for the hearing? [If yes, interviewer should ask respondent to elaborate.]
  • 2.6.5 Did you understand the submissions [arguments] that your representative made to the panel in support of your case?
  • 2.6.6 Could you have presented your case on your own? Was it necessary for your representative to be at the hearing? Please elaborate.
  • 2.6.7 What is your impression of the interaction between your representative and the other hearing participants?
    • for refugee claims - the panel and the RCO, and the Minister's representative, if Minister's representative was present
    • for immigration inquiries and detention review hearings - the adjudicator and the hearing officer
    • for immigration appeals - the panel and the Minister's representative
  • 2.6.8 Did the way in which the panel members, the RCO and the Minister's representative (if present) conducted themselves at the hearing make any difference to your assessment of your need to have a representative at your hearing? That is to say, did these other participants make it make it easier or more difficult for you to present your claim? Please explain.

2.7 Experience in dealing with paralegals

The following questions are directed primarily to respondents who have been assisted by paralegals either as their principal representative, in a supporting capacity to their principal representative, or in lieu of a representative. The questions are intended to elicit information about the tasks performed by non-lawyers and about therespondents' experience in dealing with paralegals.

As a preliminary to these questions, interviewers should ascertain whether respondents fully understand the distinction between lawyers and non-lawyers as representatives, and the role of paralegals in support of principal representatives. Where necessary, interviewers should explain the distinction so respondents understand the thrust of the questions.

Paralegals are non-lawyers who provide services that require some form of legal expertise, acquired either through experience or through formal training. For purposes of this study, we draw a distinction between paralegals who work independently, without any supervision from lawyers (immigration consultants), and those who work under the supervision of lawyers, in legal aid clinics, in law offices, or in some other situation where a lawyer is ultimately accountable for their work. We are also interested in examining the role played by persons without any legal experience or training who provide assistance and/or representation to immigrants and refugee claimants. Included in this group are friends, family members and volunteers, as well as staff at community service organizations who assist immigrants and refugee claimants but who do not have the training or experience to be considered true paralegals.

  • 2.7.1 Do you know whether your representative is a lawyer?
  • 2.7.2 Does it make any difference to you whether your representative is a lawyer?
  • 2.7.3 Have non-lawyers played any role in the preparation of your case? Please elaborate.
    • Interviewed respondent
    • Prepared documents (e.g., PIF, affidavits) and other case preparation (e.g., research, contacting witnesses)
    • Advised respondent about the specific process (refugee determination, detention review, immigration inquiry, immigration appeal)
    • Other (specify)
  • 2.7.4 Does (did) that (those) person(s) (i.e., the non-lawyers) have any connection with the person who represented you at your hearing? [If more than one non-lawyer has worked on the respondent's case, the interviewer should adapt this question to get information about the relationship between the principal representative and each non-lawyer who worked on the case.]
    • Is (was) principal representative
    • Employed by principal representative
    • Works in same office as principal representative, but not employed by principal representative
    • Assists principal representative, but has own office
    • Independent from principal representative
    • Other (specify)
  • 2.7.5 Are you satisfied with the help you have received from non-lawyers? Please describe your experience with the non-lawyers who have helped you to prepare and present your case.
  • 2.7.6 Could you have prepared your case without this help from the non-lawyers who assisted you? Please explain.
  • 2.7.7 Are you satisfied with the help you have received from lawyers? Please describe your experience with the lawyers who have helped you to prepare and present your case.
  • 2.7.8 Could you have prepared your case without this help from the lawyers who assisted you? Please explain.

2.8 Payment for services

The following questions are directed to ascertaining what services respondents have had to pay for and whether they applied for and obtained legal aid. This may shed light on the extent to which respondents are being charged for services not covered by legal aid and to what extent, if any, they are being charged, over and above the legal aid tariff, for services that are covered. The number of persons being interviewed is not sufficient to provide any definitive answers to these issues, but the responses may provide a preliminary indication of whether there are any issues that need to be examined more closely.

  • 2.8.1 Have you had to pay anything in connection with the preparation and presentation of your case in any immigration proceedings in which you have been involved? Please elaborate.

    The following question is intended to elicit information on the respondents' ability to pay for representation from their own resources or from resources provided by family and friends. The question should be posed to all respondents, including those who did receive legal aid funding.

  • 2.8.2 Do [did] you have access to financial resources to enable you to pay someone to act as your representative in connection with your refugee claim or other immigration matters? [Alternative wording: Do you have enough money to pay for someone to represent you or can you get enough money from private sources to pay someone to represent you?]
  • 2.8.3 Have you applied for legal aid? Was your application approved? If not, do you know why it was not approved?
    • No coverage for particular matter
    • Not qualified on merit test
    • Not qualified on income test
    • Other (specify)
    • Don't know

2.9 Interpretation

The following questions are directed to eliciting information about respondents' need for interpretation, both in preparation for their hearing and in dealings with CIC and IRB officials.

  • 2.9.1 Do you need the assistance of an interpreter to prepare your case? [If respondent is fluent in English of French and indicates that he or she does not require the assistance of an interpreter, the interviewer should ask follow-up questions to ascertain whether the respondent may still need an interpreter for some aspects of case preparation.]
  • 2.9.2 Do you need an interpreter for purposes of preparing and presenting your case, that is, to enable you to communicate with your representative, and to enable you to participate in hearings and other proceedings connected with your case? [If respondent is fluent in English of French and indicates that he or she does not require the assistance of an interpreter at interviews or hearings, the interviewer should ask follow-up questions to ascertain whether there are circumstances in which the respondent may need an interpreter.]
  • 2.9.3 Has your representative taken steps to ensure that you are/were able to follow what goes on in the hearings, interviews and other proceedings in which you have been involved? Please elaborate.
  • 2.9.4 Have Canadian immigration officers who have interviewed you and the IRB officials who have conducted the hearings in which you have been involved taken steps to ensure that you are/were able to follow what goes on at these interviews and hearings? Please elaborate.

2.10 Respondents' overall assessment

The following questions are directed to eliciting respondents' overall assessment of the immigration and refugee procedures in which they have been involved. These questions are completely open-ended and are intended to give respondents an opportunity to address matters that may have been overlooked in the preceding questions and to comment in a general way on their experience. The questions explicitly touch on support as well as representation, since some respondents have not had any representation.

  • 2.10.1 Are you satisfied with the support and representation that you have received in relation to these proceedings? Do you feel that the people who have supported and/or represented you have been competent? Please elaborate.
  • 2.10.2 Do you have any other comments about the support and representation you have had for the immigration and refugee proceedings in which you have been involved?
  • 2.10.3 Do you have any suggestions for ways in which representation for immigrants and refugee claimants might be improved?
  • 2.10.4 Do you have any other comments to make about the immigration and refugee proceedings in which you have been involved?
  • 2.10.5 Are there any changes that you would like to see made in these proceedings?
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