Get ready for your virtual hearing

​​​​​All IRB​ hearings are scheduled as virtual by default. In a virtual hearing, all participants attend virtually, usually using a telephone or Microsoft Teams videoconferencing software. All participants, including the member, attend from a remote location, such as their home or office, using their own equipment.

The member is the person who conducts hearings and decides cases in all IRB divisions.

Note: This information also applies to alternative dispute resolution (ADR) conferences and pre-hearing conferences with the Immigration Appeal Division (IAD), application hearings and ​pre-hearing conferences with the Immigration Division (ID), and conferences with the Refugee Appeal Division (RAD).

Note: If your hearing is at the Refugee Protection Division (RPD), you should consult the RPD virtual hearing guide.

On this page

What you need to attend a virtual hearing

When your hearing has been scheduled, you or your counsel will receive a Notice to Appear. The notice will include the date and time of your hearing and the Microsoft Teams meeting link you will use to join.

To take part in your virtual hearing with the IRB, you must have:

  • a laptop, desktop, tablet, or smartphone with a camera and a microphone
  • access to reliable high-speed internet (minimum of 1.5Mbps) to participate in a videoconference
  • access to a telephone

If you don’t have the technology needed for your virtual hearing, you can request a hybrid hearing. A hybrid hearing is a virtual hearing, but you would connect from an IRB office using the IRB’s equipment.

You can also request an in-person hearing where you and the other participants attend in-person, together at an IRB office or another place designated by the IRB.

Request a hybrid or in-person hearing.

How to install Microsoft Teams on your device

To take part in a virtual hearing, the IRB recommends that you download Microsoft Teams application rather than connect through your web browser. Downloading the application lets you access more of the features available with Microsoft Teams.

How to join a hearing on Microsoft Teams

To join your hearing, follow these steps:

  1. click on the Click here to join the meeting link provided to you by the IRB.​
  2. choose from the following options:
      • go to the Microsoft Teams application if you have already installed it on your device
      • download the application if you wish to join using the application
      • join on the web instead if you wish to connect through the web browser. (Note: If your web browser is not supported, this page will advise you and will suggest an alternative. The IRB recommends downloading the app.)
  3. type in your full name (first and last) to join the meeting. You may also add a description of who you are (for example: counsel, appellant, witness, observer). You must agree to give Microsoft Teams access to your camera and microphone.
  4. you will be placed in a virtual lobby until an IRB employee lets you enter the hearing room.

You will be removed from the virtual lobby if you join more than 15 minutes before your hearing. If this happens, you can reconnect using the same link.

Watch a video on joining a Microsoft Teams meeting.

Security and Microsoft Teams

The Microsoft Teams platform runs on a secured Government of Canada network. All Government of Canada employees – including the IRB member – will be connecting from a secure network that meets all necessary Government of Canada privacy and confidentiality requirements.

Learn more about Security and Microsoft Teams.

IRB interpreters will connect to the hearing using their own personal device. IRB interpreters must maintain the privacy of all information and follow best practices for ensuring security and privacy. All IRB interpreters who take part in a virtual hearing will ensure that their device complies with the Government of Canada’s Get Cyber Safe recommendations.

You will normally connect to the virtual hearing using your own personal computer or phone. The IRB has no control over the security of such devices. Should there be a security breach through your personal device, there is a risk that a third party could obtain information being shared over the Internet during the hearing.

Read Get Cyber Safe to learn the simple steps you can take to protect yourself online.

Privacy and recording

The IRB will record the hearing or any other proceeding for which a recording is needed. Any person attending a virtual proceeding is prohibited from recording or broadcasting the proceeding in any form. By clicking on the link to join the hearing, you are accepting these terms.

At the end of the hearing, the IRB member will stop the recording before leaving the virtual hearing room.

Note: For RAD hearings, the member also reminds participants that the channel is not private, and that any private conversations should be held elsewhere.

How to join a hearing by teleconference

If you cannot connect via the Microsoft Teams meeting link or you are disconnected during your hearing, you can connect by telephone using the telephone number and conference ID in your Notice to Appear.

Call the phone number and follow the instructions. You will be asked to enter the conference ID and press #. Once connected, you will be placed in the waiting room and an employee will accept you into the hearing.

How to have private conversations during hearing breaks

If you have counsel, you will have to establish your own means to communicate with each other when needed. For example, you can phone each other during a break. To ensure your phone conversation is private, be sure to mute yourself and turn off your video camera in Microsoft Teams.

Private communications between opposing counsel should be done by telephone or other means agreed to by both counsel.

If you are a detained person and you wish to speak privately with your counsel during your detention review, let the IRB member know.

How to connect to the hearing if you are a witness or bondsperson

If you are a witness or bondsperson, you must receive the link from an authorized person to join the hearing on Microsoft Teams. The party calling the witness or bondsperson is authorized to provide the Microsoft Teams link to the you.​

If you are a witness or bondsperson and cannot join by videoconference, the division will telephone you at the phone number you provided on the list of witnesses or to the counsel or person concerned.

Note For ID and IAD ​hearings, the person who wants the witness to testify must inform the division how the witness will connect to the hearing. You or your counsel will share the Microsoft Teams link for the hearing with your witness. ​

How to set up for your virtual hearing

Before your hearing or conference, you must:

  • find a private room with good lighting, minimal background noise, and doors that close. Do your best to ensure there will be no interruptions or distractions
  • ensure your device is fully charged and plugged in
  • use headphones with a microphone. Other participants will hear you more clearly and it will reduce background noise
  • have all your documents within your reach
  • have a back-up plan in case your internet connection fails, such as using your cell phone’s hotspot or LTE connection
  • ​put your cell phone on silent or airplane mode to ensure no interruptions
  • do not use a background

Tips for participants

Once your hearing has begun, ​follow any direction given by the member or IRB staff. Follow these tips to help make your hearing run smoothly:

  • Put yourself on mute when you are not speaking. This will reduce distracting noises like paper shuffling. Remember to unmute yourself when you need to speak.
  • Observers must remain on mute for the entire proceeding.
  • Use a device with a large screen. We do not recommend using a smartphone because of their small screens. If you do use a phone, do not hold it in your hand throughout the hearing. Find a stable place for your phone to sit and make sure you are in the middle of the screen.
  • Ask others in your household not to use the internet during your hearing. Your connection may be better if you have all the household bandwidth during the hearing.
  • Ask other participants to repeat what they said if it was not clear. Sometimes ​the audio may become unclear for a moment. You should not guess what was said, especially if it was a question for you.
  • Speak slowly and pause for a few seconds before answering questions if there is an interpreter at your hearing. This will help the interpreter if there is a lag in audio and/or video.
  • Use the ‘raise hand’ feature if you want to say something, ask a question, or seek clarification.
  • Do not eat during the hearing. Drinking is allowed.
  • Stay calm if you experience technical issues during your hearing. The member will ensure that your hearing is fair and just, even if it means postponing the hearing until a later date.

See Technical information for IRB virtual hearings to solve any technical issues.

Be prepared to participate in the hearing​

  • At the beginning of the hearing, the member may ask you questions to make sure you are fully equipped and ready to begin. For example, you may be asked to confirm that your audio and video quality are good.
  • The member will ask you to introduce yourself and confirm that you are alone in your location. If your hearing is private, the member will remind you that the hearing is confidential.
  • To protect the integrity of your testimony:
    • Do remain visible on screen throughout your participation in the hearing. If this is not possible, you need to tell the member at the beginning of the hearing, and they will decide whether the hearing can continue virtually.
    • Don't communicate with anyone other than your counsel about your evidence during the hearing or during any breaks.
    • Don't use or access information on an electronic device when giving evidence during the hearing.
    • Don't consult any hard copy documents when testifying unless directed to do so by the member or Early Resolution Officer.
    • Do​ tell the member at the beginning of the hearing if any support persons or observers are present with you. Observers will be asked to introduce themselves on the record and confirm that they will not participate by any means in the hearing. Anyone with you who will provide testimony will usually be asked to leave the room.
  • If issues that affect the fairness of the hearing arise due to the fact that the hearing is virtual and cannot be addressed, you may request—or the member may decide—that the virtual hearing be re-scheduled as a hybrid or in-person hearing.