The Detention Process

How detention works

If you are detained, CBSA may release you within 48 hours if they believe there is no reason to hold you or if there is an ATD.

Detention review hearing

You have your first detention review hearing with the IRB-ID 48 hours after your arrest or as soon as possible. The IRB-ID looks at the reasons you were detained and decides whether to release you or not. 

This hearing may be in person, either at the IRB or at an Immigration Holding Centre. The hearing can also be held by videoconference or telephone conference.

The detention review hearing is in English or French. The IRB-ID will give you an interpreter if you need one. If you do not speak English or French and need an interpreter in your own language, tell CBSA this when you are arrested.

The people at a detention review hearing are:

  • The Member of the IRB-ID who makes the decision
  • A CBSA representative (called Minister’s Counsel)
  • You and any family members, if they are also detained
  • An interpreter, if you need one
  • Your legal representative, if you have one
  • Witnesses or observers at your hearing, if allowed

At the hearing

At the hearing, the CBSA representative explains why you are being detained and either recommends your release or argues why you should stay detained. If you are released, CBSA may ask for conditions that you must follow.

Alternatives to Detention

You or your legal representative can explain why you should be released. You can also suggest an Alternative to Detention (ATD) with the conditions you will follow.

What the IRB-ID Member considers

The IRB-ID Member decides at the end of the hearing whether to release you, to release you with conditions, or to keep you detained. The Member considers:

  • Reasons for detention
  • Length of detention
  • Delays or problems that CBSA or you caused
  • Possible alternatives to detention
  • The best interests of any children under 18 who are involved
  • Conditions of detention
If detention continues

If the IRB-ID Member decides you must continue to be detained, you will have another hearing within seven days. If you are ordered detained at this second hearing, you will have hearings at least every 30 days from then on.

If you are released

When you are released, you will get a release order with any conditions to follow. It is very important to understand the conditions. You must follow these conditions until CBSA says you do not have to, or until the IRB-ID or CBSA agree to change them. 

If you are released, you must tell CBSA where you will live. There is some temporary housing available for refugee claimants in Canada. You can get information about these shelters from your legal representative, from a settlement or community worker, or sometimes from the CBSA.