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

1. Understand the reasons you can be detained

At your detention review hearing, the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) will try to show there is a good reason to continue detaining you. If there is not good reason, you must be released.

There are different rules if you are younger than 18 or if you have been found inadmissible.

Flight risk

The CBSA might say you're a “flight risk” if they think you're not likely to follow conditions, come to a hearing, or show up for your removal from Canada. The CBSA might refer to times when you:

  • did not show up for an immigration appointment
  • broke the law
  • did not follow conditions made when you entered Canada, when you were released from detention, or conditions on your criminal bail or probation order

You can give to show you're not a flight risk. For example:

  • efforts you've made to follow conditions and co-operate, such as your record of reporting to CBSA
  • explanations about why you missed immigration appointments
  • any pending immigration applications you have to show that you're not trying to hide from immigration authorities
  • affidavits or letters of reference from family members, friends, or employers saying that you follow rules and are trustworthy

Identity

The CBSA might want you to stay in detention while they investigate your identity because:

  • they think you destroyed or used fake identity or travel documents to mislead immigration officials
  • there is information about your identity that doesn't match who you say you are

If you don't have your passport or any other identity documents or travel documents, give as much information about yourself as possible, including:

  • your date of birth,
  • where you were born,
  • the names of your mother and father,
  • the names of permanent residents or citizens who can confirm your identity, and
  • details and proof of your route to Canada.

Try to give evidence of the reasons you can't provide any proof of your identity. For example, explain why it might not be safe for you to get identity documents, and why you destroyed your documents or used false documents to travel to Canada. You should also show that you've co-operated with efforts to get evidence.

Danger to the public

The CBSA might consider you to be a danger to the public if you:

  • have been convicted in Canada of a serious offence including violence, weapons, drugs or a sexual offence
  • have been convicted or have outstanding charges outside of Canada for this type of offence
  • are involved with a criminal organization or human smuggling

You can provide your own evidence to show why you're not a danger to the public. For example, you could show that:

  • it's been a long time since your criminal conviction,
  • you've been steadily employed,
  • you've completing counselling or programs to address the issues that led to your criminal conviction, or
  • you've dealt with any addiction or mental health issues.

Inadmissibility

If the CBSA thinks you're inadmissible because you might be a security risk, you have not followed human or international rights laws, or you have committed a , they must explain why they think so, and what they're doing to investigate.

Other factors

Other factors that must be considered include:

  • how long you have been in detention,
  • if you or the immigration authorities have caused any delays,
  • how much longer you might remain in detention, and
  • if there is any Alternative to Detention (ATD).
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