Arrests, detentions, alternatives to detention and removals
Detentions and alternatives to detention

National Immigration Detention Framework

The National Immigration Detention Framework outlines the CBSA's approach to making the Canadian immigration detention system better and fairer.

Reasons for detention

The Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations set out factors to consider when determining whether to detain an individual, including:

Detention reviews

A CBSA officer must review the reasons for detention within 48 hours. Officers may decide to release the individual with or without conditions depending on the circumstances.

The Immigration Refugee Board of Canada (IRB) reviews reasons for detention after an individual is detained for more than 48 hours. The IRB reviews the case and decides if the individual should remain in detention, or be released with or without conditions. The IRB reviews the case within seven days and again every 30 days.

Detention reviews before the IRB Immigration Division are generally open to the public. This is not the case if reviews concern refugee protection claimants or if the IRB determines that any of the following applies:

Alternatives to detention (ATD)

Individuals may be released from detention with or without conditions. In addition to release on reporting conditions (cash deposit or the establishment of a bondsperson), the ATD Program includes the following options:

This work contributes to Canada's commitment to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Global Detention Strategy to ensure that ATDs are considered in all cases prior to detention.

For more information, visit the frequently asked questions page or the policy on “Deposits and Guarantees” (ENF 8).

Key detention principles and the rights of detained individuals

All individuals are detained according to international best practices as well as the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Key principles involve respecting the health, well-being and safety of all people held for immigration purposes. Detained individuals have several rights, including the right to:

Facilities used for immigration detention

The CBSA is responsible for managing the immigration detention process. Following an arrest, an individual may be detained at one of three CBSA immigration holding centres (IHC) in Canada (Laval, Quebec, Toronto, Ontario and Surrey, British Columbia). If an individual is detained in a region that does not have a CBSA IHC, they may be detained at a provincial correctional facility.

The National Immigration Detention Framework introduced investments to improve IHCs across Canada. These investments provide for modernized infrastructure, ensure national alignment to detention standards and conditions of detention, and ensure detainees have the proper access to services and supports while detained.

In regions where an IHC does not exist or where a risk assessment determines an individual cannot be effectively managed within an IHC, the CBSA works closely with provincial partners for the housing of immigration detainees in their facilities. Provincial correctional facilities are used to house:

Photos of the Laval immigration holding centre

Image 1: Exterior dining area.

Image 2: Exercise area.

Image 3: Interior dining area.

Photos of the British Columbia immigration holding centre

Image 1: Sleeping quarters.

Image 2: Video room.

Image 3: Visiting room.

Photos of the Toronto immigration holding centre

Image 1: Common area.

Image 2: Dining area.

Image 3: Exercise room.

Special considerations for vulnerable people


As per the National Directive for the Detention or Housing of Minors from CBSA, minors are not to be detained except in exceptional circumstances. Officers must consider the best interests of the child and alternatives to detention. The National Immigration Detention Framework outlines how minors are accommodated in the immigration detention system.


Where safety or security is not an issue, detention is to be avoided or considered only as a last resort for pregnant women or nursing mothers, persons who are suffering from a severe medical condition or disability, persons suffering from restricted mobility, persons with a suspected or known mental illness, and victims of human trafficking.

When detention is required, it should be for the shortest time possible.

Individuals with mental health issues may be detained in a provincial detention facility that provides access to specialized care.



The CBSA works with the Canadian Red Cross, who monitors conditions of detention and the treatment of immigration detainees in CBSA immigration holding centres and other detention facilities.

The Canadian Red Cross reports to the agency on its findings annually. The CBSA then outlines how it intends to address these findings. In response to the 2020 to 2021 Canadian Red Cross' annual report, the CBSA has developed and implemented a management response and action plan:

Date modified: