I’m not Canadian. Can immigration officials detain me?

If you’re not a Canadian citizen, there are a number of situations where you could be detained.

You could be detained at a Port of Entry (POE) like an airport, marine port, or a Canada-United States border crossing by a Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) officer. You could also be detained at any CBSA or Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) office by a CBSA officer.

Some reasons a CBSA officer might detain you include:

  • they need time to get travel documents to remove you from Canada
  • they think you won’t show up for an interview, hearing, or for your removal from Canada
  • they need to confirm your identity
  • they think you’re a danger to the public
  • they think you’re a security threat in Canada

And if you don’t follow Canada’s immigration laws, you could be arrested by the police or CBSA inside Canada, and the CBSA could detain you. You could be arrested because:

  • you didn’t show up for an interview, hearing, or for your removal and there is an immigration warrant for your arrest,
  • you were or removed and came back without the proper written permission, or
  • you are inadmissible because of security concerns, you broke human rights laws, or due to serious criminal activity, including organized crime.

You have the right to know the reason you’re being detained.

You can be released from detention with conditions if the officer’s concerns have been addressed.

If you’re not released, you will be taken to an Immigration Detention Centre (IDC). If there is no IDC in your area or if the officer believes you’re a danger to yourself or others, you will be taken to a jail.

If you’re not released within 48 hours, there will be a detention review hearing where the Immigration Division will review the reasons you’re being detained and see if there is an Alternative to Detention.

If you’re still not released, you will have another detention review in 7 days and another review every 30 days until you’re either released or removed from Canada.

If you’ve been detained for many months, a lawyer or legal representative might be able to argue that your detention has become indefinite or that it is illegal.

It’s important to try to get legal advice if you’re detained.

Language rights

You have a right to an interpreter at your detention review hearing if you do not understand English or French.

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