What is a bondsperson for someone in immigration detention?

A person being held in immigration detention usually needs to agree to follow conditions and have a bondsperson to be released. A bondsperson is someone who agrees to pay money to show that they believe the detained person will follow conditions if released. A bondsperson is also called a surety.

If you agree to be a bondsperson, you’re responsible for the person until they get permanent status in Canada or until they are they are re-arrested or removed from Canada. 

A bondsperson is usually a friend or relative of the detained person. To be a bondsperson, you must be:

  • 18 years of age or older,
  • a Canadian citizen or ,
  • physically present and living in Canada, and
  • able to make sure the person will follow conditions if they are released.

In rare situations, a person who has temporary status in Canada or has US citizenship will be accepted as a bondsperson, but they can only post a cash bond.

Types of bonds

The money that you pay is also called a “bond”. There are two types of bonds:

  1. A “deposit” or “cash bond” is money that you must pay before the person can be released. You can pay by credit card, money order, or certified cheque.
  2. A “guarantee” or “performance bond” is a signed promise that you will pay money if the person doesn’t follow a condition of their release. Before the person is released, you will have to prove that you’re able to pay a performance bond.

You can’t be a bondsperson if you owe a bond for someone else you were supervising because they didn’t follow their release conditions.

It’s against the law to accept payment for being a bondsperson or to offer bond money that is not your own.

Detention review hearing

As a bondsperson, you might have to go to the detention review hearing and answer questions like:

  • how well you know the detained person
  • how you plan to supervise them
  • if you would report them if they don’t follow their conditions

A Member of the Immigration Division decides whether you’re a suitable bondsperson. They also decide the type of bond and the amount of the bond. Often a cash bond and a performance bond are both needed to get a release order.

Even if there is a release order, the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) can refuse to accept you as bondsperson if they are not satisfied that you’re able to pay the performance bond. If that happens, the detained person will not be released.

Talk to a lawyer

Being a bondsperson is a serious responsibility. If you’re not sure if you can do it, talk to lawyer who can help you understand what is expected.

If you agree to be a bondsperson, it’s difficult to get out of the responsibility. You must have a very good reason and there must be another suitable bondsperson available.

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