|Karen Kwan Anderson|
by Karen Kwan Anderson – Pace Law Firm: There is no obligation to hire counsel – whether it’s a consultant or lawyer – when one files an application or appeal to the Department of Citizenship and Immigration. However, the increasing complexities in immigration often result in a need for legal consultation.
Having said that, if you are determined to represent yourself at a hearing, I recommend the following tips:
1. Read the rules of procedure applicable to the division of the Immigration and Refugee Board in which your matter lies.
2. File your documents and Witness Information in accordance with the rules. Make sure you file them correctly or you risk rejection of the documents and witnesses.
3. Show up early. Don’t. Be. Late. (You’ll notice I say this a lot in the blog. There’s a reason for that).
4. Be respectful to the adjudicator and Minister’s Counsel. You can make submissions with confidence but there’s no need to be rude, arrogant or combative.
5. Do not make comments of a personal nature during the hearing.
6. Focus on the facts and evidence to make your points.
7. Follow the lead of the adjudicator, who chairs the hearing and leads the process throughout.
8. Speak clearly, loudly and slowly.
9. Only one voice at a time can speak, since proceedings are recorded. Don’t interrupt or talk over someone.
10. When referring to a document, tell the adjudicator and Minister’s Counsel the name of the document and what page you are on so that they can follow along.
These are the general tips I follow to achieve positive results for my clients. Most of these tips can be placed under the catch-all of Be Prepared. Make sure you’re prepared before stepping into the hearing room, and you will go a long way towards securing a successful outcome for your case.