Arrests/ Detention /


What is the best way to arrest or detain someone?

The Canadian Immigration and Refugee Protection Act allows anyone who isn’t a Canadian citizen to be held while Canada Border Services Agency officers or the Immigration and Refuge Board (IRB) determine if they can enter Canada.

There are three main situations in which an individual could be detained or arrested.

  1. If the person is trying to enter Canada
  2. Once the person is in Canada,
  3. While you are in Canada, either during or after an Immigration inquiry

At border crossings, airports, and other inland locations, CBSA officers make arrests and detain people. At the detention review, the Immigration Division of IRB determines whether or not the person will be kept in detention.

1. Arrest and detention at entry

Everybody who attempts to cross the border into Canada is subject to questioning by CBSA officers. If you wish to enter Canada, you must truthfully answer all questions. You may have your answers written down or entered into their computer. All information provided can be used to support immigration proceedings.

If they think that you are:

  • You are not who you claim to be.
  • You aren’t coming to Canada because you claim you are.
  • You were expelled from Canada or deported in the past and are now trying to re-enter Canada without proper permission from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada.
  • You will not be allowed to leave Canada as instructed.
  • You will pose a danger to yourself and others.
  • You do not meet the proper immigration requirements.
2. Canada: Arrest and Detention

Even if you do manage to cross the Canadian border, CBSA officers or police officers may arrest you once you have entered Canada. If the CBSA or IRCC has reasonable grounds to suspect that you pose a threat to others or yourself, they can arrest you.

You are not allowed to work in Canada without a valid permit.

You have been allowed to stay in Canada even though your visitor visa status has expired.

  • You entered Canada illegally
  • You entered Canada using a fake passport
  • You were expelled from Canada or deported, but you returned to Canada without the written permission by IRCC.
  • You did not notify IRCC about a change in address when you moved.
  • You did not leave Canada on the departure date indicated in your notice.
  • An Immigration Officer may have been notified of your case if there is another reason.
  • You did not appear for a hearing or interview or were removed.

If an order has been issued for your removal or if they suspect you have violated certain provisions in the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, CBSA officers and police can arrest you without a warrant. The arresting officer must explain why you were arrested. You can be searched by the arresting officer.

You don’t have to answer questions from the CBSA or police officers if you aren’t in an immigration investigation. However, you should identify yourself.

You have the right to speak with a lawyer if you are arrested in Canada. After speaking with a lawyer, you are not required to answer any questions. If you are arrested for a simple misinterpretation, it might be a good idea explaining the situation. If you are arrested for not showing up to an Immigration appointment and you have a letter signed by another Immigration officer, you can explain the situation.

At an admissibility hearing, detention

You could be arrested at an admissibility meeting in rare circumstances. A detention review is different from an admissibility hearing, but all hearings are followed with detention reviews in the event that the person is detained.

Admissibility hearings take place before an IRB member from the Immigration Division to determine whether or not you are allowed to enter Canada. People are generally given notice of the hearing. They are expected to attend the hearing on their own initiative and not be arrested. You have the right to legal representation at an admissibility hearing.

It is a smart idea to find someone to post a bond for you before you attend an admissibility hearing. This person is called a guarantor. A guarantor is someone who deposits money or signs a performance bond on your behalf. A person must be at least 18 years of age and a Canadian citizen, permanent resident, or on welfare to be accepted as a Guarantor. If you violate the terms of the bond, the guarantor must show they are able to pay the money. The guarantor might be able to show that they have property or savings.

A guarantor is not enough to release you if you are held at a hearing by the IRCC because you pose a threat to the public.

Are people being held where?

If you are held by Immigration, you’ll be taken to an Immigration office for questioning. You will later be detained at an Immigration Detention Centre. If there is no Immigration Detention Centre near you, or if Immigration considers you a threat to other people or yourself, you may be held in a correctional facility. If you are convicted of a crime or have threatened to commit suicide, you may be held in jail.

What is the best way to get people released?

Two ways can a person be released from detention

  1. Following a review by a CBSA officer,
  2. An IRB member at a Detention Review hearing, or at an Admissions Hearing.

A member of the Immigration Division must review the reasons behind a person’s detention within 48 hours. If the member is satisfied that you are not a threat to others or yourself and that you will appear for interviews, hearings, or removal and/or that your identity no longer poses a problem, they can request your release anytime before your first detention review hearing. Your hearing may not be held if you were arrested on Thursday or Friday. Sometimes, delays are caused by lack of resources.

An IRB member will review your case, and determine the reasons behind your detention. The Immigration Minister’s Counsel will present submissions. You will be able to present evidence and submit submissions. You must convince the member to release you.

If the IRB member determines that you are eligible for release,

  1. You are exactly who you claimed to be when you arrived at the border or airport.
  2. There are no reasons to believe that you won’t show up for hearings or interviews.
  3. You are not a threat to yourself or others.
These are the typical terms and conditions of release

You may be asked to agree to the following terms if a CBSA officer or IRB member releases you.

  • You must notify IRCC 48 hours prior to moving to change your address
  • To cooperate in obtaining travel documents required for your removal
  • To agree to regularly report to the Immigration office,
  • To agree to be monitored by a third party.

Most cases will require you to make a security deposit, or have a performance guarantee signed on your behalf. A security deposit is money that is deposited to guarantee your compliance with the terms of your release. If you violate any terms or conditions, IRCC can keep the money.

A performance bond does not allow money to be deposited. Your guarantor will sign a bond for you to cover a specific amount. Your guarantor is responsible for paying Immigration the amount if you violate any terms or conditions.

What happens if you’re not freed?

You must request another hearing within seven days if you are not released. Your detention must then be reviewed at least every 30 days until your release or removal from Canada. There is no limit to the length of your detention. You cannot be detained indefinitely. Your file should be sent to immigration to request your removal to your country. A lawyer should be consulted if you have cooperated and there is not movement for their cause.

While you have the right of legal counsel at any detention review hearings, legal aid certificates are usually not provided. You have the right to an interpreter qualified by IRCC. You may have legal grounds to challenge the detention of your loved one in certain cases.

COVID-19 temporary changes

The Government of Canada has made temporary changes to several immigration programs and procedures in response to the current pandemic. For the latest information, please visit

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