IRCC’s domestic video conference interviews and hearings
This section contains policy, procedures and guidance used by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada staff. It is posted on the Department’s website as a courtesy to stakeholders.
IRCC staff may use video conferences to interview applicants or to hold hearings. For citizenship purposes, video conferencing assists with lengthy waiting times for hearings. They can also accommodate interviews in an under-served language.
Computers used for video conferencing will not have access to any IRCC systems or shared drives. The terminal will use a secure generic account that only accesses video software. When the video conference ends, IRCC staff can log in with full system access.
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- General procedures
- The video software is encrypted and only passes through the IRCC network. It is very secure.
- The video terminals use a high-definition camera and a microphone with excellent sound quality. The interview or hearing should proceed as smoothly as an in-person interview or hearing.
Video conference equipment has been installed in enclosed interview/hearing rooms located outside staff workspaces in most locations.
Rooms with video conference equipment can continue to be used for in-person interviews and hearings as well as for video conference interviews and hearings.
The video terminals have been installed in rooms that meet the following criteria:
- The camera can be positioned so that the door is visible. This ensures that the interviewer is aware if someone enters or leaves the room.
- The room is large enough so that all participants at the interview or hearing (client, counsel, etc.) are visible to the interviewer. Participants may need to sit close to each other.
- If possible, the client should be far enough from the camera so that their face and arms are visible, but close enough that their identity can be established.
If a local office uses a room that does not meet these criteria, a test run of a video conference interview or hearing is recommended.
Scheduling a video conference interview or hearing
- The processing office will send an email to the contact person in the host location and their back-up if applicable. The email should contain
- the applicant’s unique client identifier (UCI)
- the applicant’s name
- the interviewer’s name
- the type of interview or hearing
- the length of interview or hearing
- the preferred date and time of interview or hearing
- The contact person should confirm room availability within 24 hours following receipt of the email. If the preferred date and time are not available, the contact person should call or email the interviewer to discuss options. Each office will need to reserve their own rooms. If an applicant identified special needs, make alternative arrangements.
- Once both offices agree to an interview or hearing date and time, the contact person will schedule the appointment using the calendar function in Outlook as follows:
- To: interviewer, greeter, judge (as appropriate), video conference interview/hearing room
- Subject: type of interview or hearing and the interviewer’s name
- Location: the video conference interview or hearing locations
- Start and end time
- In the body of the email, indicate
- the type of interview or hearing
- the date and time of the interview or hearing (indicate the time zones if the interviewer and the host office are located in different time zones)
- the applicant’s UCI and name
- Once the video conference appointment is scheduled in Outlook and the interpreter is booked (when needed), the interviewer will send an invitation or hearing notice to the applicant
- clearly identifying it as a video conference interview or hearing
- indicating the location of the interview or hearing
- indicating the presence of an interpreter, when applicable
- instructing the applicant to arrive 15 minutes before the interview or hearing
Give the applicant enough time to mail or email supporting documents (if any) to the interviewer. Provide instructions to do so.
Citizenship video conference hearings require a signed consent form. Refer to Additional procedures specific to Citizenship hearings.
If interviewing refugee claimants or citizenship applicants, please consult Interviews for specific case types.
If holding a hearing, please consult Oral hearings – Pre-removal risk assessments (PRRAs).
- If IRCC is paying for an interpreter, they should be present at the location of the hearing or interview. If the interpreter is not able to attend in person (for example, interpreter is located in another province), they can participate via teleconference. The processing office is responsible for the contracting, scheduling and cost of the interpreter. In the citizenship program, only sign language interpretation can be arranged and paid for by the processing office.
If the applicant does not appear or arrives late, the case should be treated as a no-show.
Previous no-shows should not be scheduled for a video conference interview. This does not apply to PRRA applicants attending a PRRA hearing.
Conducting a video conference interview or hearing
- The interviewer is to set up the video conference link 15 minutes before the client arrives.
- The greeter emails the interviewer when the applicant arrives.
- The interviewer replies that they have opened the video link on their side.
- The greeter meets the applicant, interpreter and counsel, examines their identification and collects any supporting documents brought by the applicant. Note: for PRRA hearings, supporting documents should be sent via email to the processing office 5 days prior to the hearing. If they are brought the same day as the hearing, they should be scanned and emailed to the interviewer.
- The greeter then goes to the video conference interview/hearing room alone and logs into the computer using the generic account. The greeter should phone or email the interviewer if there is a delay or problem establishing the video link.
- Once the video link is established, the greeter confirms that the video and audio quality is acceptable with the interviewer. The greeter informs the interviewer of who will be present at the interview or hearing (applicant, counsel, spouse, etc.). The greeter also tells the interviewer if the client brought supporting documents and confirms if the documents will be scanned and emailed to the interviewer’s office.
- When possible, the greeter detaches the mouse and keyboard from the computer tower and stores them away from the client. The mouse and keyboard may be stored in a locked cabinet or placed in a secure area.
- Once ready, the greeter escorts all attendees into the interview/hearing room. If attendees are being escorted through a secure work area, the greeter is to ensure no sensitive information is publicly visible.
- The greeter seats the attendees so that everyone is visible to the interviewer (for example, torso, arms and head are visible). Before leaving the room, the greeter instructs the attendees to
- turn off all electronic devices
- place all belongings (including coats, bags, etc.) out of reach
- leave the room once the interview or hearing has ended. If attendees must be escorted in and out of the building, the greeter explains that they will return to the interview/hearing room once the interview or hearing is over. The greeter explains emergency procedures in case of an alarm.
- For citizenship video conference hearings, when the official departs the room, they will fax any signed forms to the judge. Any supporting documents provided by the applicant for the judge will also be scanned and sent by email.
- Once the greeter leaves, the interviewer advises attendees that
- they must not leave their seats without permission
- the only documents the applicant or sponsor may have in their possession are the original supporting documents
- the interview or hearing is not being recorded
- any concerns about the quality of the audio or video must be expressed immediately
- if any of the attendees need to leave the room during the interview or hearing, the interviewer will contact the greeter to request that they be escorted
- The interviewer should conduct the interview or hearing in the normal manner. The technology is sufficient that there should be no need to speak louder than usual. If there are technological issues, the interviewer should call the local office contact person immediately to reconnect.
- Once the interview or hearing is over, the interviewer will
- email the greeter to advise that the interview or hearing is over and that attendees have either left or need assistance leaving. Applicants may leave on their own unless an escort is required
- end the video link
- The greeter returns to the room to reattach the hardware and shut down the computer.
Emergency or technical problems
In case of technical problems or disconnection, the interviewer will contact the greeter to help re-establish the connection.
If an interviewee becomes upset or disruptive, the interviewer should call or email the greeter. Normal procedures at the host office would then take over.
If a fire alarm occurs at the interviewer’s office, the interviewer should
- tell the attendees to return to the waiting room
- email or call the greeter saying an emergency has occurred
If a fire alarm occurs at the host office, the interviewer should
- tell the attendees to leave the room and follow the emergency exit signs, if applicable. In offices where the attendees must be escorted in and out of the building, the greeter or contact person in the host office will return to the interview/hearing room to provide assistance in evacuating the building, if necessary
- remain connected to the video link as long as possible
- email the greeter to request that they be contacted once the alarm has ended
If possible, the greeter should make sure the attendees have left.
If the applicant or another attendee suffers a medical emergency, the interviewer should call the greeter and the greeter should contact emergency services.
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