Overview of the Removals Program

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Removal orders

COVID-19

If pressed on the number of removals

Questions and answers

Q1. How are removals from Canada prioritized?

In keeping with its mandate, the CBSA prioritizes removals of persons inadmissible to Canada on safety or security grounds, (security, organized crime or human rights violations, serious criminality and criminality), along with irregular arrival failed asylum claimants. The CBSA is committed to removing failed refugee claimants as soon as possible.

Q2. What are the types of removal orders?

There are three types of removal orders, departure orders, exclusion orders and deportation orders.

Departure orders

The majority of removal orders issued are departure orders provided to individuals issued when a refugee claim is initially made. A departure order issued to a refugee claimant only becomes enforceable when the person receives a negative determination on their refugee claim. A failed refugee claimant has 30 days to leave Canada under a departure order, after which time, the departure order becomes a deportation order.

Exclusion orders

An exclusion order prohibits a person from returning to Canada for one year without written permission or five years if issued for misrepresentation.

Deportation orders

A deportation order permanently bars a person from returning to Canada unless permission to return is obtained from the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada.

Q3. What recourse mechanisms are available?

There are a number of mechanisms available. Persons who are deemed to be inadmissible to Canada can, in certain circumstances, seek re-dress at the Immigration Appeal Division. An individual may file an application for leave and judicial review before the Federal Court against any decision made under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. In certain instances, these applications can result in an automatic stay of removal until a decision is rendered by the courts. In instances where the application does not trigger an automatic stay, the individual may ask the Federal Court to grant a stay of removal pending the judicial review. If the court grants the request and stays the removal, the CBSA must comply with the Court order and not remove the individual until the case has been resolved.

Background information

The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) is mandated under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) to remove inadmissible foreign nationals as soon as possible.

The IRPA specifies that foreign nationals may be inadmissible for any of the following reasons: security; crimes against humanity and war crimes; criminality; organized crime; risk to health of Canadians or excessive demand on health services; misrepresentation; inability to financially support oneself or their dependents; and non-compliance with the IRPA (e.g., overstaying the time an individual is permitted to remain in Canada). Individuals believed to be inadmissible to Canada may be subject to an inadmissibility report. Depending on the particular inadmissibility, a decision as to whether or not to issue a removal order will be made by a reviewing officer acting under the delegated authority of the Minister, or by the Immigration and Refugee Board. There are three types of removal orders: departure orders, exclusion orders, and deportation orders. Each type of removal order is accompanied by increasingly strict requirements for re-entry to Canada.

Departure orders are primarily issued to refugee claimants. When a person makes a refugee claim in Canada, a removal order is immediately issued against them. This removal order is called a departure order and is conditional until after the determination of their refugee claims. Once their departure order becomes enforceable, the person has 30 days to leave Canada. By abiding with our laws and leaving our country, the person can subsequently apply to return to Canada. If the person does not leave Canada within 30 days of a negative refugee determination decision, the removal order automatically becomes a deportation order. A person with a deportation order is barred from Canada for life, unless the person receives written permission from a Minister’s delegate to return to Canada.

Exclusion order: An exclusion order bars entry to Canada for either 1 or 5 years. Less serious violations lead to a 1 year exclusion. For example, an individual who is working without a work permit or who fails to appear at the Immigration and Refugee Board for their admissibility hearing would be issued an exclusion order for 1 year whereas a person issued an exclusion order for misrepresentation is excluded for 5 years.

Deportation order: This person is barred from Canada for life, unless the person receives written permission from an officer to return to Canada.

The existence of a removal order does not automatically mean that the CBSA is in a position to immediately remove someone from the country. There are a number of different legal and administrative processes that must be addressed before the CBSA is in a position to undertake a removal. Once all legal avenues have been exhausted, the CBSA can begin the removal process. It is at this stage that removal Interviews are convened to ensure that there are no impediments to removal and a pre-removal risk assessment is offered, if eligible. Travel arrangements are made and can be as simple as driving someone to the Canada-US border or as complicated as chartering a plane when a person cannot be removed by commercial airliner. Once arrangements with the third country are made, the person is removed from Canada.

Removals during COVID-19

On March 17, all scheduled removals were postponed and will continue to be suspended. However, exceptions may be considered on a case-by-case basis, whether at ports-of-entry or inland, particularly:

While the vast majority of removals are currently postponed, removals are still being administratively enforced as per regulatory changes that came into effect in 2018 (section 240(3)). When the CBSA receives adequate information that a foreign national has left Canada without confirming their departure, the removal order can be enforced within CBSA systems and the case is closed (meaning it no longer appears in removal inventories). These administrative removals are leading to greater removal data integrity as committed to in the Agency’s response to the office of the Auditor General following the recent audit on the program (released on July 8, 2020). This activity can be conducted by officers working from home in light of pandemic response measures and will contribute to additional removal statistics during the period of COVID-19 measures and contributes to the total number of cases recorded thus far in the 2020-21 fiscal year.

Furthermore, an Administrative Deferral of Removal (ADR) was imposed on Hubei Province, China, on January 31, 2020. It was subsequently lifted on July 30, 2020. On August 4, 2020, as part of the Removals Resumption Plan, the CBSA resumed escorted removals of serious inadmissibility cases.

Relevant statistics

In the 2018 to 2019 fiscal year, the CBSA removed 9,695 individuals from Canada; it removed 11,527 in the 2019 to 2020 fiscal year. These represent the highest removal numbers in the last four years for the Agency. As of November 13, 2020, the CBSA has removed 6,417 individuals for the 2020 to 2021 fiscal year, which has been impacted by a removal stoppage due to COVID-19. The breakdown is as follows:

Total Removals: 6,417

Immigration warrants

The Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) provides for issuance of a warrant and the arrest and detention of an inadmissible person who an officer has reasonable grounds to believe is inadmissible and is a danger to the public; or is unlikely to appear for an immigration process, including removal.

CBSA officers undertake proactive investigations in an attempt to locate and arrest an individual subject to an immigration warrant. Investigations are prioritized, ensuring high risk cases have the greatest amount of resources.

Prior to issuing a warrant, an officer must confirm the available information regarding the whereabouts of the individual. If an individual cannot be located, an immigration warrant may be issued in the Global Case Management System (GCMS) and is valid Canada-wide.

Immigration warrants are also registered in the Canadian Police Information Centre, which allows law enforcement partners to refer individuals subject to an immigration warrant to be referred to the CBSA.

Immigration Regulations outline specific factors officers must follow when considering an immigration arrest and detention, which are based on the individual’s danger to the public or flight risk. A criminal record, in and of itself, does not mean that an individual is a threat to public safety.

Those subject to immigration enforcement have incentive not to be found and may rely on family and community members to shelter them. In addition, some individuals may resort to using alternate identities to avoid detection.

Questions and answers

Q1: Why are there so many immigration warrants?

The CBSA’s immigration warrant inventory has been relatively stable since 2009. It is important to note that Canada’s immigration system does not allow for the proactive arrest and detention of every person subject to enforcement action. The IRPA contains provisions for the CBSA to arrest and detain those who pose a danger to the public and/or who are unlikely to appear for an immigration process. Often, persons subject to immigration enforcement are cooperative until they have exhausted all appeal mechanisms and then fail to report. As well, in many cases, foreign nationals who left Canada without confirming their departure remain in the warrant inventory. Absent exit controls, it is difficult to confirm that those individuals have left.

Q2: How does the CBSA co-operate with local law enforcement in locating person subject to an immigration warrant?

Immigration warrants are registered in the Canadian Police Information Centre (CPIC), which assists local law enforcement partners in identification and referral to the CBSA of persons subject to an active immigration warrant.

Q3: If there is a warrant out for a person, will that person be removed once located?

Not necessarily. Individuals subject to an immigration warrant, including a warrant for removal, may still have access to due process or have logistical challenges to be resolved in their cases. Only once those due processes and removal impediments have been resolved can the person be removed. If they fail to appear for removal, the CBSA may issue another warrant for arrest.

Q4.: When can a warrant be issued, cancelled, executed?

The IRPA provides for issuance of a warrant and an arrest and detention of an inadmissible person who an officer has reasonable grounds to believe is inadmissible and is a danger to the public; or is unlikely to appear for an immigration process, including removal. Once a person subject to a warrant is located, the warrant is executed (i.e., the person is arrested). Warrants are cancelled when it is determined following a review that the warrant is no longer necessary or appropriate. Some examples of when a warrant may be cancelled include: when the CBSA has confirmed that the individual subject to an immigration warrant is no longer in Canada; when the individual has been approved for permanent residence by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC); when the CBSA receives notification that the person is deceased or when the IRPA process that the immigration warrant was linked to (e.g. examination, admissibility hearing) changes subsequent to the issuance of the warrant.

Background information

The Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) outlines the objectives of the Act, many of which are directly linked to the Canada Border Services Agency’s (CBSA) responsibility for the enforcement of IRPA, namely to protect the health and safety of Canadians and to maintain the security of Canadian society; and to promote international justice and security by fostering respect for human rights and by denying access to Canadian territory to persons who are criminals or security risks.

The IRPA provides for issuance of a warrant and an arrest and detention of an inadmissible person who an officer has reasonable grounds to believe is inadmissible and is a danger to the public; or is unlikely to appear for an immigration process, including removal.

Immigration warrants are valid Canada-wide and trigger a mandatory referral at Primary Inspection Line at a Port of Entry. In addition, the Global Case Management System (GCMS), a database used both by the CBSA and Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), has been programmed to prevent issuance of a status document (e.g. temporary or permanent resident visa, etc.) to a person subject to an active warrant.

Immigration warrants are also registered in the Canadian Police Information Centre (CPIC), which assists local law enforcement partners in identification and referral to the CBSA of persons subject to an active immigration warrant. The CBSA’s Warrant Response Centre (WRC) is a 24/7 operation that is responsible for providing support to regional CBSA officers and external law enforcement partners throughout North America, in relation to immigration warrants. If a person subject to an immigration warrant is encountered by a local law enforcement agency, they will be prompted in CPIC to contact the WRC, who will then dispatch a CBSA officer. In addition, CBSA Inland Enforcement Officers actively undertake investigations in an attempt to locate and arrest persons who are subject to immigration warrants.

The CBSA maintains a Border Watch Line, which allows the public to contact CBSA with tips on immigration violations including the whereabouts of persons subject to an immigration warrant. The Border Watch Line is operational 7 days a week in both official languages.

In addition, the CBSA publishes information, including photos, of certain high profile individuals subject of an active Canada-wide arrest warrant on the CBSA’s “Wanted by the CBSA” webpage. By publicizing the identities of these individuals, the CBSA is enlisting the help of the public in locating these individuals. To date, as a result of the "Wanted by the CBSA" program, 70 individuals have been located in Canada. The CBSA has removed 65 of these individuals from Canada and an additional 19 individuals have been located abroad.

There appears to be a correlation between removals enforced and warrants issued in that it in the years where removal numbers were higher, more people absconded and more warrants were issued. On average, between 2,200 and 3,500 warrants are executed every year.

Relevant data and statistics:

Table 1: Warrant inventory
Warrant reason Count
Designated foreign national 1
Examination 1,684
Minister’s delegate review 1,270
Admissibility hearing 1,081
Removal 39,124
Total 43,160

November 15, 2020

In 2019, the CBSA Warrant Response Centre received 1,083 calls from local police forces concerning immigration warrants.

Voluntary departures

Everyone ordered removed from Canada is entitled to due process before the law and all removal orders are subject to various levels of appeal.

Once a removal order becomes enforceable, individuals are expected to obey the law and leave Canada as directed.

Individuals that wish to voluntarily leave Canada may approach a CBSA Inland office to advise of their intention to comply with their departure orders. These scenarios account for 20% of the total removals in any given fiscal year.

For those who opt to not comply with their removal orders, they will be directed to appear for a removal interview to arrange for their removal from Canada.  The Government of Canada expects individuals to report as directed for interviews, proceedings, or removal.

The ability to remove inadmissible people is essential to maintaining the integrity of the immigration program and ensuring fairness for those who come to this country lawfully.

Individuals that are subject to a removal order who have left Canada without confirming their departure with a CBSA official remain in the removal inventory.

A new regulation implemented in 2018 allows the CBSA to administratively enforce the removal of individuals who ‘self-deported’ if sufficient evidence exists to demonstrate that they are no longer in Canada. The Entry / Exit initiative will assist to support this change.

Questions and answers 

Q1. What are the requirements to voluntary depart Canada?

The Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations states that foreign nationals must

(a) appear before an officer at a port of entry to verify their departure from Canada;

(b) obtain a certificate of departure from CBSA;

(c) depart from Canada; and

(d) are authorized to enter, other than for purposes of transit, their country of destination.

Q2. How many individuals voluntarily depart Canada and confirm their departure with  CBSA?

Voluntary departures represent approximately 20% of the total enforced removals during a
given fiscal year. In fiscal year 2019-2020, approximately 2,200 individuals left on a departure
order.  

Q3. How many individuals left without advising CBSA?

Prior to the regulatory amendment in 2018, CBSA flagged cases as “confirmed outside of
Canada” when sufficient evidence existed that the person had physically left without having their
departure verified by an official. There are approximately ten thousand cases flagged as
confirmed outside of Canada. The CBSA is currently reviewing these cases and will
administratively enforce their removal orders, and remove their cases from the working
inventory, once sufficient evidence exists that they are physically outside of Canada.

Q4. Why is it important to administratively enforce the removal of those that self- deported?

Allowing officials to administratively enforce removal orders of individuals confirmed to be
outside of Canada will enable the CBSA to focus its resources on priority cases. Currently, as
long as an individual is believed to be in Canada, investigative and removal resources could be
used in an effort to track the individual’s whereabouts.

Background information

A removal order issued against a refugee claimant is conditional and comes into force 15 days following notification that their claim has been rejected by the Refuge Protection Division or the Refugee Appeal Division of the Immigration and Refugee Board. Following this statutory 15-day period, the failed refugee claimant has 30 days to voluntarily comply with the departure order (as per the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations) and leave Canada.

When a failed refugee claimant chooses to leave within 30 days, they appear at an Inland Enforcement office to be processed for their removal. A removal interview is convened to ensure that the foreign national has the proper travel document to leave the country and no impediment or stay exists. Once the person is determined to be removal ready, CBSA will seek authorization from airlines to carry the passenger and notify CBSA liaison officers responsible for the destination country of the pending departure. If the routing requires transit in a third country, the authorities in the transiting country along with the CBSA liaison officers responsible for that area are also notified. Once these arrangements are finalized, the person is served with a direction to report for removal from Canada. A removal document envelope (commonly referred to as a confirmation of departure package) is prepared and is designed for safekeeping papers such as travel documents; airline tickets; airline security approval; itinerary and the confirmation of departure document. This envelope is forwarded to the airport 48 hrs prior to the removal date, if time permits, or driven to the airport, if removal is imminent. The foreign national is directed to report to a CBSA office upon arrival at the airport to have their removal confirmed. A CBSA Border Services Officer at the airport or a security guard contracted by the CBSA will accompany the foreign national to the airplane, have the confirmation of departure signed, provide a copy to the foreign national and give the removal envelope to the purser, who will then inform the pilot. The official will remain on site until the plane has left. By leaving Canada on a departure order, the consequence of the order is minimal and the person can return to Canada without having to seek a special Authorization to Return to Canada.

When a failed refugee claimant chooses not to leave within the 30 days, the departure order becomes a deemed deportation order and the CBSA will begin removal arrangements. An Inland Enforcement office will send a notice to the failed refugee claimant to appear for a removal interview. Similar steps are taken when preparing for removal, however, unlike cases that voluntary leave on departure orders, challenges to removal may be present such as the foreign national may not appear for the interview (may have gone underground during the refugee process); or there may be impediments to removal such as a lack of travel documents, medical challenges or best interest of the child factors must be assessed. Once all impediments are overcome and a direction to report for removal is served, the foreign national may request additional time through the filing of a deferral request. The foreign national may also file a humanitarian and compassionate application for permanent residence, if eligible, and request to remain in Canada until a decision is rendered. A negative decision by the Inland Enforcement officer may result in the filing of leave for judicial review to the Federal Court accompanied by a stay motion. Once all legal avenues are exhausted, removal arrangements can resume, but may be halted once again due to new impediments or stays. The consequence of a deemed deportation order is severe and bans the individual from returning to Canada for life.   

Operationally, voluntary departures and removals enforced by the Minister are processed in the same manner and require the same documentation. That being said, where a person is voluntarily complying with a departure order, the process tends to be faster and more efficient. Experience also dictates that, if a foreign national does not leave voluntarily, the CBSA tends to see a person exercise most available recourse avenues.

In other instances, the foreign national may physically leave Canada without advising the CBSA. When a foreign national fails to confirm their departure from Canada, their removal order remains unenforced, which contradicts the intention of the immigration system and in so doing undermines its integrity. Regulatory amendments implemented in 2018 allow the CBSA to administratively enforce a removal order when an individual is confirmed to be outside of Canada. When CBSA receives adequate information that a foreign national has ‘self-deported’ and has left Canada without confirming their departure, the removal order can be enforced and the case can be excluded from the removal inventory.

Escorted removals

The Canada Border Service Agency (CBSA) plays a vital role contributing to the safety and security of Canadians and upholding the fairness and integrity of the Canadian immigration and refugee system by removing foreign nationals who are inadmissible, or have no legal right to remain, in Canada.

While the majority of foreign nationals depart Canada on their own accord, about 10% of all enforced removals may warrant the assignment of Inland Enforcement Officers (IEOs) to escort foreign nationals during removal, in order to preserve public safety and to uphold program integrity.

The CBSA has a strict approach to escorted removals, which includes detailed procedures, including a detailed risk assessment exercise, to be followed before, during, and after scheduling an escorted removal.

Questions and answers

Q1: How is the need for escorts assessed?

The objective of assessing the need for escorts is to minimize the risk to the safety and security of the person(s) being removed, the travelling public, transportation company personnel and/or the officer(s) conducting the removal. The role of the officer is to gather relevant information on the case, identify possible risk, and to recommend to their respective management whether an escort is required. The final decision on the need for escort rests with management. When it is deemed that an escort is necessary, the following factors are considered in order to avoid unnecessary risk and to ensure the success of the removal:

Q2. How often do escorts take place?

Based on the most current available information, escorted removals represent approximately 10% of the total removals conducted by the CBSA.  Escorts are assigned based on a risk assessment matrix, considering ever evolving situational factors.

Q3. What happens if the escorted removal cannot proceed via a commercial flight?

Infrequently, the prospect of removal on board commercial flight becomes unfeasible. This may be due to the refusal of all prospective airlines to carry the deportee or as a result of extenuating circumstances, such as the need for specialized medical care or complete lack of available routing. In these instances, the CBSA may contract a charter aircraft to allow the escorted removal to proceed.

Background information 

The removal from Canada of inadmissible foreign nationals is central to the mandate of the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA). While the majority of foreign nationals depart Canada on their own accord, some cases may warrant the assignment of Inland Enforcement Officers (IEOs) to escort the concerned foreign national during removal, to preserve public safety and to uphold program integrity. Escorted removals represent approximately 10% of all removals conducted by the agency within the last five fiscal years.

The escort function is governed by a strict adherence to a continuous risk assessment of all known situational factors, including criminality, behavioural history, medical status, airline specifications and transit requirements. The CBSA has developed a robust matrix that guides and assists managers through the risk assessment process for escort assignment.

In accordance with the Canadian Aviation Security Regulations, the IEO performing the escort duty is responsible for the care and control of the deportee, at all times. Therefore, the IEO must sit next to the deportee and carry restraining devices for use if necessary. All officers conducting escorted removals are certified in the CBSA’s Use of Force Training, and have taken the CBSA’s Air Mode Transport Training.

Escorted removal activities are divided into 3 categories: escorts, accompaniment (facilitation) and detained transport.

Escorts are defined as assignments that require international travel to effect removal and where management has determined a positive risk assessment exists, this may be due to factors such as criminal history, violent behavior and physical resistance to removal efforts

Accompaniments (or facilitations) are denoted as assignments that require CBSA’s presence, despite management’s determination that no risk exists. These tasks include cases requiring the presence of a CBSA officer as a requirement imposed by the airline or as a result of CBSA’s decision to assist with international transit procedures

Detained transports are assignments requiring the transfer of the detainees within Canada due to risk. These often involve the transport of detainees from the detention facility to their consular representation in Canada for an interview required for the issuance of a travel document. The transport may be by car or onboard a domestic flight

In preparation for removal, the officer with carriage of the file, may request a medical opinion regarding the Medical Requirements for Removal (MRR). Based on the recommendation from a physician contracted by the Agency (following a review of the foreign nationals medical files), the CBSA may determine an escort is warranted with an accompanying contracted nurse.  

The escort function is essential to the mandate of the CBSA. It allows the Agency to have direct input and accountability over the enforcement of removal cases presenting complex factors.

Relevant data and statistics

Table 2: Escorted removals for last 5 fiscal years
Fiscal Year Removal Not Escorted Escorted Unspecified Total
2014/2015 10,793 1,139 - 11,932
2015/2016 7,838 850 - 8,688
2016/2017 6,987 1,008 - 7,995
2017/2018 7,169 1,042 - 8,211
2018/2019 8,792 903 - 9,695
2019/2020 10,588 939 - 11,527
2020/2021 1 6,173 145 2 6,320
Total 58,340 6,026 2 64,368

1 Up to November 12, 2020

Impediments and legal recourses

The CBSA takes action to remove foreign nationals subject to removal only once all legal avenues and administrative steps are exhausted and all other impediments are addressed.

Administrative processes to be addressed in the removal process include: pre-removal risk assessments; applications for permanent residence on humanitarian and compassionate grounds; in-Canada spousal sponsorship applications; requests to defer removal; and, administrative deferrals of removal and temporary suspension of removals.

The decisions rendered in administrative processes prior to removal are all subject to judicial review. If removal is imminent while an individual is seeking judicial review, they may also request a stay of removal. If the Federal Court grants a stay, removal may not proceed.

Impediments to removal include: individuals or foreign governments who refuse to cooperate with the travel document acquisition process; individuals who have serious health issues, impacting either their ability to get on a plane or longer term availability, affordability and/or accessibility of medical treatment in a country of destination; airlines that place significant restrictions on the number of deportees on flights; and, cases involving Canadian-born children or inadmissible family members.

The Travel Document Impediment represents approximately 60% of all impediments. The CBSA must meet foreign requirements linked to travel document applications, and must negotiate with foreign representatives in order to obtain travel documents for removal.

There is little CBSA can do to execute a removal when individuals or foreign governments do not cooperate with providing or issuing travel documents,

These impediments, whether legal or not, can prevent the CBSA from removing inadmissible persons from Canada as soon as possible.

Questions and answers

Q1. What are the recourses available to an individual subject to a removal order?

The Canadian immigration system, including the enforcement component, is lauded as one of the most generous in the world. It includes many checks and balances to ensure that a person has access to comprehensive risk assessments and procedural fairness prior to removal.

Examples of these processes include: the refugee determination system; the pre-removal risk assessment; applications for permanent residence on humanitarian and compassionate grounds; in-Canada spousal sponsorship applications; requests to defer removal; and, applications for leave for judicial review. It is only once all legal avenues are exhausted that a removal can occur.

Q2. Once all legal and administrative options have been exhausted, what other issues may delay or stop a removal?

There are various impediments that may delay or stop a removal, such as:

Q3. What are the efforts made by the CBSA to overcome the impediments?

Currently, the focus is on alleviating the challenges associated to foreign governments that will not accept the return of their nationals. This endeavor has led to an all-of-government approach, championed by the Assistant Deputy Minister led Removals Working Group. This partnership is co-led by the CBSA and Global Affairs Canada, and involves other partners, such as Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada. Additionally, the CBSA capitalizes on the engagement of CBSA Liaison Officers posted abroad, foreign authorities in destination countries and international partners, such as the Five Eyes network of countries (Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States).

Background

Once a removal order is in force there are a number of processes, applications, decision points, etc., which may, or must be, exhausted before a person can be removed from Canada. Many of these can occur simultaneously and/or multiple times. The following provides an overview of the most common issues to be addressed in the removal process.

Pre-removal risk assessment

An assessment of personalized risk of persecution, torture, risk to life, or risk of cruel or unusual punishment prior to any final decision to remove an individual from Canada

When more than a year has passed after the last negative decision on a refugee claim, the CBSA must offer pre-removal risk assessment (PRRA) to those being removed from Canada.

The first time that a person is offered PRRA, the application stays the removal.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) processes the applications and processing time is nine to twelve months.

Applications for permanent residence on humanitarian and compassionate grounds

Does not stay removal while in process until approved in principal (Stage 1).

IRCC processes the application and current processing time is approximately 39 months to Stage 1 approval.

In-Canada spousal sponsorship application

Similar to humanitarian and compassionate grounds.

Under the spousal sponsorship public policy, a person is entitled to a 60-day deferral of their removal if they have submitted a spousal application prior to the scheduling of their removal interview with the CBSA.

Deferral requests

Once a person has attended a removal interview, or a removal date is fixed, they may request a deferral of removal for various reasons, including, best interests of the child and medical.

The CBSA may grant deferral for a variety of reasons, including, allowing the person to wrap up their affairs, break their lease on housing, or allow a child to finish a school term.

Applications for leave and judicial review

Can be filed in relation to any decision rendered by an officer, or other body, such as a removal order as well as a negative deferral response, Refugee Protection Division, or Refugee Appeal Division decisions.

For those subject to removal, these are usually accompanied by a request to the court to grant a stay of removal until the Court decides on whether or not they will grant leave for judicial review of the decision.

Interim measures requests

The United Nations Human Rights Commission (UNHRC) can make a request to Canada not to remove an individual until it hears their complaint that they will be removed to torture.

If the UNHRC renders a positive decision on the complaint, which may take years, the Government of Canada must determine whether or not they will abide by it.

Administrative deferrals of removals (ADR) and temporary suspensions of removals (TSR)

The imposition of an ADR or TSR stops the CBSA from removing to the affected country, except for those who are excluded from refugee protection at the RPD under 1F, or inadmissible on grounds of security, human or international rights violations, criminality or organized criminality, or those who are willing to leave.

When these measures are lifted, cases often require a PRRA, which further delays removal processes.

Medical issues

For foreign nationals who allege medical concerns regarding their ability to travel, the CBSA has put in place a process where a physician reviews the person’s medical condition and the corresponding Medical Requirements for Removal (MRR), makes an impartial determination regarding the impact of the medical condition and any impact to removal, which may include a recommendation to include a nurse for removal.

Where the foreign national raises medical concerns regarding the availability, affordability or accessibility of treatment in the destination country, and the person submits an H&C application within a specified period, then the CBSA will not remove them until the Stage 1 decision is made.

Travel document issues

In most cases, the CBSA will not be able to remove a person when they are uncooperative in confirming their identity or refuse to cooperate with the travel document process.

This is also the case when foreign governments delay the issuance of travel documents (or do not issue at all), fail to honour removal arrangements, or have limited infrastructure or resources to conduct identity verification activities.

Criminal charges

Individuals charged with a criminal offence or those serving a criminal sentence are subject to a stay of removal.

Ministerial stays of removal or temporary residence permit issuance

The Minister of Public Safety can issue a stay of removal for any duration at his prerogative.

The Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship can issue a Temporary Residence Permit (TRP) at his prerogative, which does not stay the removal, but the CBSA will cancel the removal.

The single largest impediment, representing approximately 55 to 60% of all impediments, is obtaining travel documents for removal. The CBSA must negotiate with foreign representatives in Embassies and High Commissions across Canada for the issuance of a travel document, as well as meet foreign government requirements linked to travel document applications and processes, in order to obtain travel documents for removal. When persons to be deported, or foreign governments of the country to which they will be removed (typically the country of their citizenship or permanent residency), do not cooperate with the travel document issuance process, there is little that the CBSA may do to execute a removal.

As a measure to alleviate the challenges associated to foreign governments not willing to accept the return of their nationals, the CBSA co-leads an all-of-government approach, championed by the ADM-level Removals Working Group. This partnership is co-led by the CBSA and Global Affairs Canada, and involves other partners, such as Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada. Additionally, the CBSA capitalizes on the engagement of CBSA Liaison Officers posted abroad, foreign authorities in destination countries and international partners, such as the 5 eyes network of countries.

Relevant data and statistics

Table 3: National removal inventory (as of November 12, 2020)
Sub inventories Descriptions Total
Monitoring inventory
  • Waiting for refugee determination
  • Unenforceable removal orders
  • Waiting for permanent residence
148,595
Stay inventory
  • Federal Court decision
  • Administrative deferral
  • Temporary suspension of removals
16,039
Wanted inventory
  • Warrant issued for removal
  • Under review for possible warrant
33,480
Working inventory
  • Need travel document
  • Need PRRA, if applicable
  • Need travel arrangements
18,431
 - Actionable inventory Number represents actionable cases within the total working inventory. PRRA has been completed, if eligible and no impediments have been registered in the system to date. 4,106
Total 216,545
Table 4: Impediments (working inventory)
Inventory impediment Total
Lack of TD 4,042
Temporary policy decision 34
Medical Issues 83
Family Court / custody issue 18
Family member with stay 666
Other 863
Family member of CR 1,495
Remaining Impediments 1,543
Total 8,744

Administrative deferral of removals / temporary suspension of removals

When country conditions exist that could seriously endanger the lives or safety of the entire civilian population, options exist to delay removals to these countries by imposing one of two types of stays.

The CBSA can impose an Administrative Deferral of Removal (ADR), or the Minister of Public Safety may impose a Temporary Suspension of Removal (TSR), based on input from the CBSA in consultation with Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada.

An Administrative Deferral of Removal is a temporary measure put in place when immediate action is needed to defer removals in situations of humanitarian crisis. It is not meant to address persistent and systemic human rights problems which constitute individual risk.

A Temporary Suspension of Removal, on the other hand, interrupts removals to a country or place when general conditions, such as armed conflict or an environmental disaster, pose a risk to the entire civilian population.

An individual who is not allowed to remain in Canada on grounds of criminality, international or human rights violations, organized crime or security can still be removed despite the existence of an ADR or TSR.

Once the situation in a country stabilizes, the ADR or TSR is lifted and the CBSA resumes removals for individuals who are inadmissible to Canada and have a removal order in effect.

Currently, there are ADRs in place for 11 countries and Temporary Suspensions of Removal (TSR) in place for 3 countries.

The CBSA reviews each ADR country designation on a monthly basis to ensure accuracy of the current country conditions. TSR country designation is reviewed annually to ensure accuracy of the current country conditions. 

Questions and answers

Q1: What countries currently have a Temporary Suspension of Removals (TSR)?

Canada currently has a TSR in place for Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Iraq.

Q2: What countries currently have an Administrative Deferral of Removals (ADR)?

An ADR is currently in place for certain regions in Somalia (Middle Shabelle, Afgoye, and Mogadishu), the Gaza Strip, Syria, Mali, the Central African Republic, South Sudan, Libya, Yemen, Burundi, Venezuela, and Haiti.

Q3: What is the difference between a TSR and ADR?

An ADR is a temporary measure put in place when immediate action is needed to defer removals in situations of humanitarian crisis. It is not meant to address persistent and systemic human rights problems which constitute individual risk. A TSR, on the other hand, interrupts removals to a country or place when general conditions, such as armed conflict or an environmental disaster, pose a risk to the entire civilian population.

Q4. Given the spread of COVID-19 worldwide, has the CBSA considered halting removals altogether until the situation normalizes?

On March 17, all scheduled removals were postponed and will continue to be suspended. However, exceptions may be considered on a case-by-case basis, whether at ports-of-entry or inland, particularly:

Background information

The Minister of Public Safety has the authority under section 230(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (IRPR) to impose a Temporary Suspension of Removals (TSR) and the Minister has delegated the authority under section 230(1)(c) of these Regulations to the CBSA to impose a stay in emergent situations.

The CBSA, in exceptional circumstances, may impose an Administrative Deferral of Removal (ADR) which stays removals to a particular country or place deemed unsafe for both individuals being removed and CBSA officers.

Pursuant to section 230(1)(c) of IRPR, the Director General, Enforcement and Intelligence Programs Directorate, Intelligence and Enforcement Branch of the CBSA has the authority to impose and lift ADRs. Generally, an ADR is imposed under quick timeframes when removals are not possible (e.g., airport closures, natural disasters) or when the impact of a catastrophic event is so pervasive and widespread that it would be inconceivable to return anyone to that country until some degree of safety is restored. This is the most common approach used to impose a stay of removal. 

By contrast, under section 230(1) of the IRPR, the Minister of Public Safety may impose, maintain or lift a TSR when the entire civilian population of a country faces a generalized risk as a result of a catastrophic event, such as a natural disaster, armed conflict or other extraordinary disruption. The Minister’s decision is based on a recommendation by the CBSA – Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) Advisory Committee, comprised of a panel of three Directors General.

In the interest of ensuring national security and public safety, foreign nationals who are inadmissible and subject to removal on grounds of criminality, international or human rights violations, organized crime, or security, do not benefit from the stay of removal imposed by an ADR or TSR should the CBSA wish to proceed with their removal. In addition, individuals who want to leave Canada voluntarily, despite an ADR or TSR, can do so at any time. However, no one is removed from Canada without consideration of the individual needs for protection. Prior to removal, individuals may be able to file a pre-removal risk assessment (PRRA). A positive PRRA will stay a removal. 

The countries designated as having a stay under section 230(1) of the IRPR are monitored by the CBSA to ensure that the conditions causing the imposition of an ADR or TSR continue to exist.

Relevant data and statistics

Table 5: Administrative deferral of removals
Location Date ADR was imposed Number of removal cases subject to stay
Somalia (regions of Middle Shabelle, Afgoye and Mogadishu) December 9, 2011 Data extract not possible
Syria March 15, 2012 458
Gaza Strip November 27, 2012 136
Mali January 31, 2013 53
Central African Republic June 19, 2014 4
South Sudan November 4, 2014 1
Libya March 20, 2015 126
Yemen May 7, 2015 59
Burundi December 2, 2015 99
Venezuela January 24, 2019 258
Haiti February 15, 2019 2.656

Table note: Data as of November 13, 2020.CBSA systems only capture foreign nationals’ country of origin and cannot specify regional returns within that country.

Table 6: Temporary stay of removals (Data as of November 13, 2020)
Location Date ADR was imposed Number of removal cases subject to a stay
Afghanistan February 1994 382
Democratic Republic of Congo April 17, 1997 1,299
Iraq March 26, 2003 402

Asylum claimants

The integrity of the border is a shared responsibility between the CBSA and the RCMP.

The CBSA processes asylum claimants at any designated CBSA port of entry (POE) or inland at an IRCC office, regardless of whether they entered at a designated POE or not.

The Government of Canada has an agreement with the U.S. regarding the direct back of any foreign national seeking to enter the country between ports of entry during this pandemic.

The Order in Council (OIC) will be renewed on November 20, 2020 and will continue to stipulate that individuals who are travelling to Canada for the purpose of making a claim for refugee protection may be directed back to the U.S. during this public health crisis.

As of November 14, 1,247 asylum claims have been received at land POEs. Of the 1,247 claims, 1,006 were eligible under the STCA, 208 were ineligible, 29 met an OIC exception and 4 were directed back.

As of November 14, 222 Asylum Seekers entered between the POE. Of the 222 claims, 213 were directed back and 9 met an exception under the OIC.

The OIC maintains various exemptions for certain asylum claimants including: persons seeking to enter Canada at a land port of entry to claim asylum and who meet an exemption in the Safe Third Country Agreement, including citizens of the U.S.; unaccompanied minors; and stateless habitual residents of the U.S. All other persons will be directed back to the U.S. until the public health order is lifted.

Every person seeking to enter Canada is being screened for COVID-19 and any other health issues, regardless of how they enter Canada (i.e. at ports of entry or between ports of entry).

The CBSA continues to screen asylum claimants for potential signs of illness as per standard process.

If an individual is symptomatic, they are referred to the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) for further examination.
Budget 2019 invested $1.18 billion to nearly double the capacity of Canada’s asylum system over the next five years, including additional resources to manage effectively the influx of irregular migrants across Canada’s border. Of this amount, the CBSA received $382 million over 5 years and $7.3 million ongoing.

These funds have been used by several federal partners, notably: CBSA, RCMP, IRCC, IRB and the Department of Justice, to ensure the safety and security of Canadians and respects the Government of Canada’s legal and international obligations regarding the processing of asylum claimants.

The CBSA has utilized the funding to increase refugee claim processing, security screening, detention and removals efforts in order to manage the influx experienced between ports of entry and at the ports of entry.

If pressed:

If an individual is asymptomatic and requires accommodations for the 14 day isolation or quarantine period, they will be transferred to the care of Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) or PHAC.

If pressed on the obligation to monitor conditions in the U.S.:

The Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) requires Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) to continually monitor prescribed factors with respect to the designation of the U.S. as a safe third country.

Canada monitors circumstances in the U.S. on a continuing basis according to these factors. A robust framework is used to monitor developments in the U.S. and the impact that changes in policies and practices may carry with respect to the integrity of the country’s refugee protection system.

IRCC draws from a variety of sources in conducting its review, including U.S. Government reporting, the outcomes of U.S. court decisions, and input from the UN Refugee Agency and civil society stakeholders and other experts.

Questions and answers

Q1: How does the CBSA determine an individual’s admissibility to Canada?

The CBSA’s role is to determine an individual’s admissibility to Canada (that is, whether or not there are health, safety or security concerns) and the eligibility of the claim under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. When an individual makes a claim for refugee protection, the CBSA conducts its own preliminary risk assessment. The process includes conducting an interview; taking fingerprints and photos; and performing security, criminal record and health checks. The individual’s records are examined against Canadian, international and other partner databases for immigration, criminal or national security concerns. No one leaves the port of entry without completing this initial security screening.

Q2: When conducting an eligibility assessment, how does the CBSA deal with an influx of asylum claimants?

Mobile response teams from various agencies can be deployed to an influx of refugees anywhere in Canada. In the past, teams have been deployed to Manitoba and Quebec.

Q3: Is the CBSA the only agency able to make eligibility decisions?

Both the CBSA and Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada make eligibility decisions.

Background information

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) is responsible for enforcement between the ports of entry (POEs) along the border. The CBSA is responsible for enforcing Canadian legislation at POEs. Persons entering Canada between the POEs are arrested by the RCMP or by a local law enforcement officer. Those who indicate that their intention is to make an asylum claim are brought to a CBSA officer at a POE. Once the police have conducted an assessment for national security or other criminal activity, a CBSA officer will then determine the admissibility of the person and the eligibility of the claim under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA).

During the initial admissibility determination, a CBSA officer will verify the identity of asylum seekers using both biographic and biometric information; and conduct an assessment for security, criminality and health purposes. This assessment includes a review of international and other partner databases for any immigration, criminal or national security concerns, as well as an interview.

People who are known criminals or security threats and people who have already had an asylum claim rejected in Canada are not eligible to make a claim, and are subject to removal. If an officer believes that a person is inadmissible under the IRPA, an inadmissibility report may be written and referred to the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) for an admissibility hearing. If grounds for detention exist, the person may be detained under the IRPA. Detention is a last resort and detention decisions are reviewed by the IRB on a regular basis, with the first review occurring within 48 hours of detention (or as soon as possible afterwards).

Prior to a hearing at the IRB, a front end security screening (FESS) is completed on all adult asylum claimants. The purpose of FESS is to identify any serious inadmissibility concerns relating to national security, war crimes and/or crimes against humanity, and organized crime. The FESS is conducted by the CBSA with information from other partner agencies, including; the RCMP, Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) and Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). The time required to conduct FESS screening varies based on multiple factors, such as complexity, level of detail, availability of information and research required for higher complexity cases which require more evidence to substantiate the case. Under the current regulatory framework, these individuals remain under examination up until the time of their hearing, and may be asked to subsequently report to a CBSA officer during this period, including once the FESS process has been completed, in the event potential serious inadmissibility concerns are identified.

To respond to the unprecedented number of persons arriving between the POEs, the CBSA implemented the following measures, including:

The CBSA continues to review and revise its national and regional operational response plans with partners to incorporate best practices from Quebec to ensure we are prepared in the event increased volumes occur in another location(s). 

Asylum seekers whose claims are not eligible to be referred to the IRB, or are refused protection at the IRB, are subject to removal from Canada. Once all avenues of appeal have been exhausted, the conditional removal order that was issued at the time the asylum claim was initially made becomes enforceable and the individual has 30 days to depart on their own. Failure to depart within those 30 days results in a deemed deportation order and removal can be undertaken provided there are no impediments to removal. Individuals who fail to appear for a removal interview or for removal may become the subject of a Canada-wide arrest warrant and may be detained prior to removal.

COVID-19 measures

Since the appearance of COVID-19, additional procedures have been implemented by the CBSA, including screening questions and the distribution of a Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) COVID-19 awareness handout.

The new Order in Council (OIC) entitled “Minimizing the Risk of Exposure to COVID-19 in Canada Order (Prohibition of Entry into Canada from the United States)”, commonly referred to as OIC 32, came into force on October 30, 2020 with an expiry date of November 30, 2020. This order replaces a previous order (OIC 28).

The OIC supports Canada’s continued focus on reducing the introduction and further spread of COVID-19 by decreasing the risk of importing cases from outside the country. In consideration of Canada’s international obligations with respect to non-refoulement, the OIC also supports the continued application of the Safe Third Country Agreement (STCA) and thereby allows the resumption of asylum claim processing at designated land ports of entry in accordance with applicable provisions of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. This means that those that meet an exception will be permitted to enter and make an application for refugee protection. The OIC does not lift the prohibition on entry for the purpose of making a refugee claim at any other location, including airports, marine ports, and between official ports of entry. Moreover, the OIC contains a new authority whereby the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness or the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, may exempt an individual from the prohibition on entry for the purpose of making an asylum claim where it is determined to be in the national or public interest “while recognizing the paramount public health interests of Canada and Canadians.”

Foreign nationals, including refugee claimants, are issued direct-backs by an officer that are valid for the duration of the period outlined in the emergency order or regulation. Once the emergency order is lifted, all foreign nationals who initiated a refugee claim and were directed back will be permitted to return to Canada for the continuation of their processing.

The CBSA has established an external website to provide information to any asylum seeker who has been directed back to the U.S.

Detentions

The Government of Canada is committed to creating a better, fairer immigration detention system, including reducing the use of provincial jails for immigration detention.

Immigration detention is a measure of last resort and used only in limited circumstances, and only after Alternatives to Detention (ATDs) are first considered.

Alternatives to Detention may include, among other tools, releasing individuals on reporting conditions or upon acceptance into a community supervision program.

To reduce the reliance on the use of provincial jails, the CBSA has expanded ATDs, improved risk assessments and is investing in Immigration Holding Centres.

Overall, the number of immigration detainees is declining in large part as a result of lower traveller volumes, a reduced number of removals due to travel restrictions and an expanded use of ATDs.

Minors in Canada’s immigration detention system 

The detention or housing of minors is an issue of paramount importance and a measure of last resort. The best interest of the child is always a primary consideration.

The CBSA actively and continuously seeks alternatives to detention, such as placement with family members, when the release of a parent/legal guardian is not appropriate.

In November 2017, a Ministerial Direction was issued to the CBSA with the key objective of keeping families together and minors out of detention centres to the greatest extent possible.

To effect its implementation, the CBSA issued simultaneously its National Directive for the Detention or Housing of Minors to guide its officers in making detention case decisions that achieve better and consistent outcomes for minors.

When a minor is housed or detained, the CBSA ensures that they have the proper access to programs and services, including access to health care services, outdoor and indoor recreation, and proper nutrition that caters to special dietary needs. Minors that are in Immigration Holding Centres for periods in excess of seven days are provided with educational programming.

Families have separate living and sleeping quarters, washroom and laundry facilities and Immigration Holding Centres readily provides other necessities as required.

The CBSA continues to take measures to ensure decision-making is transparent in all cases through management oversight and systematic public reporting.

If pressed on Immigration Holding Centres (IHC) and Covid-19:

A number of measures have been put in place to reduce the risk of COVID-19 being introduced into CBSA IHCs.

IHCs have suspended visits from the public with the exception of counsel, Government of Canada designated representatives and interpreters. Alternative options are available to the detained population to communicate with family and friends.

Furthermore, in conjunction with measures put in place by the Immigration and Refugee Board, detention reviews are being held via telephone or videoconference, where practicable.

To minimize detention numbers, the CBSA completed a review of all detention cases and identified those that may be suitable for release. Mindful of public safety and security concerns, officers have been directed to continuously look at options for release in partnership with our network of community case managers.

This has caused the immigration detention population to decrease to a historic low. By leveraging Alternatives to Detention available to our officers and by working with the Immigration and Refugee Board, the detention population has significantly declined from 353 persons on   March 17, 2020, to 132 persons on November 12, 2020.

Questions and answers

Q1: How does the CBSA determine which individuals are to be held in immigration detention?

A1: The Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations set out factors to consider when determining whether to detain an individual, including:

Q2: Under what grounds is a minor held in detention?

A2: 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.

Q3: What criteria’s determine if an individual can be released from detention?

A3: Individuals may be released from detention with or without conditions. Some of the conditions may include the following, amongst others as needed:

Q4: How is detention managed in provinces with no Immigration Holding Centres?

A4: 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:

The CBSA works closely with its provincial partners to minimize the comingling of immigration detainees with those being held for criminal purposes.

Background information

A CBSA officer’s decision to detain a person under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) is subject to a review by the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB), an independent quasi-judicial tribunal. Detainees must appear before the IRB within the first 48 hours of being detained. At a detention review, the IRB may release the person or identify conditions for release or determine that detention should continue. If the IRB determines that detention should be continued, the individual must appear in the next seven days and every 30 days thereafter. The Immigration Division of the IRB always provides reasons for its decisions, and its decisions are subject to judicial review with leave from the Federal Court.

The CBSA works to ensure that it is exercising responsibility for detentions to the highest possible standards, with the physical and mental health and well-being of detainees as well as the safety and security of Canadians as primary considerations. Detainee rights are guaranteed by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms; individuals who are detained for immigration purposes are protected from arbitrary arrest and detention and have access to effective remedies. Canada does not detain asylum seekers simply because they make a claim.

CBSA officers detain foreign nationals and permanent residents when there are reasonable grounds to believe the person is inadmissible to Canada and is:

The CBSA has Immigration Holding Centres (IHC) in British Colombia, Ontario and Quebec. In provinces where there are no IHC and/or the person presents a higher risk profile or is a public security risk, the CBSA relies on the use of provincial facilities.

On average, prior to the onset of COVID-19, there were approximately 350 individuals detained under the IRPA at any given time. These make up less than 0.02% of foreign travellers, permanent residents and refugees entering Canada per year.

Minors in detention

The CBSA actively and continuously seeks alternatives to detention (ATDs) when unconditional release of parent/legal guardian is not appropriate and it is not the CBSA’s practice to separate children from their parent(s) or legal guardian(s). Alternative arrangements for minors may be sought, such as placement under the care of child welfare authorities or family members. Where detention may be considered, the best interest of the child is always a primary consideration.

The vast majority of minors in IHC are not detained, but are housed. A housed minor is free to remain with their parents and can stay or leave the IHC (subject to consent). When a minor is housed or detained, the CBSA ensures that they have the proper access to programs and services. In accordance with international obligations, minors have access to health care services (e.g. nurse, doctor, psychology and psychiatric supports); outdoor and indoor recreation, which includes a play/game room with toys, books, board games, and proper nutrition (which aligns with Canada’s Food Guide) that also caters to special dietary needs (food allergies, halal diet, etc.). Families have separate living and sleeping quarters, washroom and laundry facilities and the IHC readily provides cribs, diapers and other products as needed. Minors that are in IHC facilities for periods in excess of seven days are provided with educational programming.

ATDs may include, among other options, release on reporting conditions (in-person or voice reporting), imposition of a performance bond; cash deposit; establishment of a bondsperson; or acceptance into a community supervision program.

Detention and COVID-19

The CBSA is working closely with the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) to prevent the spread of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19). PHAC is responsible for advising the CBSA of any enhanced measures that must be implemented at the border to help prevent the introduction and spread of serious infectious diseases into Canada.

The situation has evolved rapidly and remains fluid. Currently, all international travellers arriving at Canadian ports of entry are subject to enhanced screening measures either through the electronic kiosks (Primary Inspection Kiosks, Automated Border Clearance or NEXUS kiosks), by a Border Services Officer (BSO) directly, or both.

BSOs are permitted, within their roles as screening officers under Quarantine Act, to ask a traveller any relevant question(s) and/or to request that the traveller present them with any information or record in the traveller's possession that would assist the BSO in making a determination on whether a traveller has, or might have, a communicable disease. BSOs are trained to observe and assess for signs of illness. If a traveller presents signs of a communicable disease, the Quarantine Act authorizes BSOs as screening officers to isolate the traveller and refer the individual to a PHAC Quarantine Officer for further assessment.

The above process applies to all individuals entering Canada who are admitted to one of our Immigration Holding Centres (IHCs) as well. In addition to this, all individuals who have an IRPA detention initiated at a POE are being instructed to wear a surgical mask during transport to a detention facility. CBSA has three IHCs located in Surrey, British Columbia, Laval, Quebec and Toronto, ON, and relies on provincial correctional facilities in other regions.

Upon arrival at an IHC, a COVID-19 medical screening form is completed for all new admissions, regardless of where detention was initiated (Inland or at a POE). Upon admission all detainees are subject to self-isolation prior to admission to general living units. Where an individual is determined to be symptomatic, the CBSA follows direction from local public health authorities and on-site medical staff. All new intakes are being seen by our medical staff who then outline other preventative measures to the detainee.

In the interest of health and safety of the detained population, employees and the general public,  IHCs have suspended visits from the public with the exception of counsel, government designated representatives and interpreters until further notice. These specific individuals will be permitted to conduct non-contact visits where available and are expected to exercise safe distancing practices for contact visits. Other options are available to communicate with family and friends such as via telephone.

As always, should a detainee in CBSA care be seriously ill and in need of immediate medical attention, they would be referred to the appropriate local or emergency health authority for medical assessment without delay. This also applies to cases of persons arrested at inland locations within Canada.

In situations where the Immigration and Refugee Board determines the release of a detainee before the 14-day self-isolation period is complete, a Medical team will meet with the individual and provide them with directives for continuing their self-isolation, along with the same handout that is being provided in airports.

The CBSA will continue to engage with PHAC on any cases of suspected exposure to COVID-19. The CBSA is constantly reviewing its processes and procedures as events unfold.

Immigration detention is a measure of last resort and used only in limited circumstances, such as where there are serious concerns about a danger to the public, where an individual is considered to be a flight risk or where their identity is under question. Officers must always consider alternatives to detention first.

Amid COVID-19, scheduled removals have been reduced with a focus on all those who want to leave voluntarily, as well as serious inadmissibility cases. The CBSA is continually reviewing the detainee population to determine if suitable alternatives are available. This includes in cases of those detained in provincial facilities.

Key statistics (that are pertinent to this topic)

In fiscal year 2019 to 2020, the number of persons detained increased by 0.5% compared to the previous fiscal year. The slight increase in the number of persons detained is largely attributable to the constant surge of Mexican travelers since the visa requirement for that country was lifted in November 2016, as well as the increase of 1% in the influx of irregular arrivals when compared to last fiscal year. Of the 8,825 persons detained in IHCs and provincial facilities in fiscal year 2019 to 2020, 46% (4,031) were Mexican nationals and 7% had entered Canada between ports of entry. Consistent with the previous year, the largest proportion of persons detained (46%) were held for 24 hours or less. The proportion of persons detained compared to the number of entries by foreign nationals also remains consistent, representing 0.2%.

In year 2019 to 2020, there was an overall increase of 17% in the number of minors housed or detained when compared to the previous fiscal year (118 minors in 2018 to 2019 and 138 in 2019 to 2020). The CBSA also noted an increase of 32% in the number of housed minors (103 minors housed in fiscal year 2018 to 2019 compared to 136 in 2019 to 2020). This increase is attributable to an increased number of travellers, with families of 3 or more children, who entered Canada irregularly between ports of entry. Most of these minors (75%) were accompanying a parent/guardian detained on grounds of identity. The average length of time a minor was housed spent in a facility decreased by nearly 4 days compared to fiscal year 2018 to 2019 (average days for minors housed was 16.9 days). The average for minors detained was 2.5 days.

Of the detention population on November 12, 43 were in an IHC, 86 were in a provincial facility, and 3 were in another type of facility. For reference, although there were 43 individuals in IHCs, the CBSA’s three IHCs have a combined total of almost 400 beds.

As of November 12, 2020, there are no minors in detention. The CBSA is actively and continuously seeking alternatives to detention when unconditional release of the parent is inappropriate. In addition, other arrangements for the unaccompanied minors are sought, such as their placement under the care and protection of child welfare authorities or family members.

Inventory overview

The CBSA monitors all foreign nationals, subject to a removal order that has not yet been enforced or voided through the granting of permanent resident status. In order to facilitate monitoring, these files are categorized into four inventories. The four main inventories are the Monitoring Inventory, the Wanted Inventory, the Stay Inventory and the Working Inventory. These inventories are fluid and cases can move between inventories repeatedly during the life of a case.

The Monitoring Inventory (148,595 as of November 12, 2020) includes foreign nationals that are awaiting refugee determination decisions; pending permanent resident status; or subject to an unenforceable removal order.

The Wanted Inventory (33,480 as of November 12, 2020) includes foreign nationals that have failed to appear for removal proceedings (removal interview, reporting requirements, or removal from Canada). This inventory includes cases where a warrant has been issued as well as cases under review to determine if a warrant is required. 

The Stay Inventory (16,039 as of November 12, 2020) includes foreign nationals who benefit from a stay of removal under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA), such as through the imposition of an Administrative Deferral of Removal (ADR) or Temporary Suspension of Removal (TSR), the first submission of a pre-removal risk assessment, or litigation at the Federal Court.

The Working Inventory (18,431 as of November 12, 2020) includes foreign nationals under an enforceable removal order, where there still are impediments to removal that the CBSA actively works to resolve (e.g., lack of travel document, and cases that are actionable that the CBSA is working towards scheduling removal).

Questions and answers

Q1: What are impediments to removal?

Impediments to removal are case-specific factors that prevent the CBSA from moving forward with removal. The most common impediment to removal is the lack of a travel document. Without a travel document, such as a passport, the CBSA is unable to return the individual to their home country. Other impediments can include being a family member of a convention refugee, having a family member with a stay of removal, or having medical issues that prevent removal at this time. 

Q2: How does the CBSA attempt to locate individuals within the Wanted Inventory?

The CBSA makes use of a number of resources to locate individuals that are currently wanted by the CBSA. Firstly, our Immigration Investigations units across the country conduct investigations on these individuals, which can include, speaking to family and friends of the individual and conducting online investigations. Additionally, CBSA officers will issue warrants for these individuals, which engages law enforcement partners across Canada so that, if the individual is encountered anywhere in Canada by law enforcement, they can detain the individual until we can take custody and arrest them. 

Q3: Are cases within the Actionable Sub-inventory ready to be removed?

The cases within the Actionable Sub-inventory are at a stage in the immigration continuum where there are no stays or impediments to removal at this time. There are still a number of steps required to remove these individuals, such as conducting removal interviews, conducting risk assessments and coordinating itineraries. As mentioned, there are always a number recourses available to individuals that can delay and prevent removal even when the case has reached this inventory. These can include the imposition of an ADR / TSR, stays as a result of litigation, deferral requests and Ministerial intervention.

Background information

When a foreign national is found inadmissible to Canada, they are issued a removal order, but are not necessarily removed from Canada immediately. The Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) provides a number of legal recourse options to individuals who are subject to a removal order, and prohibits removal for many of these options.

There are currently in excess of 215,000 foreign nationals in Canada that are subject to a removal order that has not been enforced, and has not been voided by the granting of permanent resident status. The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) employs an inventory management system to facilitate resource allocation to, monitoring of, and reporting on the various files concerning these foreign nationals.

The total National Removal Inventory is broken down into four main inventories with various sub-inventories. These four main inventories are the Monitoring Inventory, the Wanted Inventory, the Stay Inventory, and the Working Inventory. The number of cases included within each inventory remains fluid as cases can move between inventories quickly, easily and repeatedly.

The largest inventory is the Monitoring Inventory at 148,595 cases (as of November 2020). These cases are not removable. Approximately 61% of this inventory are foreign nationals that are still pending their refugee determination by the Refugee Protection Division, or appeal at the Refugee Appeal Division, of the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB). Approximately 35% of cases are those where the removal order is currently unenforceable which is usually as a result of being granted refugee status. Those pending permanent resident status comprise approximately 2% of this inventory, and represents those individuals that have applied for this status and have received stage 1 approval. The final 2% are cases still within various appeal timelines.

The Wanted Inventory is the second largest at 33,480 cases (as of November 2020). These are cases for which a warrant has been issued, or for which a warrant is being considered as a result of a failure to appear for an immigration process, including removal.

The Stay Inventory at 16,039 cases (as of November 2020) includes files that cannot proceed to removal due to legislative stays imposed under the IRPA. Roughly 38% of these cases are included in this inventory due to the imposition of an administrative deferral of removal (ADR) or a temporary suspension of removal (TSR). Almost 13% of these cases are pending decisions for pre-removal risk assessment (PRRA). Rounding out the top three are cases that are stayed as a result of litigation at the Federal Court, and represent approximately 22% of this inventory. Other cases included are those serving criminal sentences or have outstanding criminal charges, those that have a stay imposed by the Immigration Appeal Division of the IRB, and those with positive PRRA stays. 

The Working Inventory at 18,431 cases (as of November 2020) are those in the final stages of the removal continuum. The largest cohort within this inventory at approximately 47%, are cases with impediments to removal, such as lacking a travel document, for which the CBSA is working at resolving. This inventory also includes a sub-inventory called the Actionable Inventory, which represents those cases for which the CBSA is working to schedule removal. There are approximately 4,106 cases within this sub-inventory.

Relevant data and statistics

Table 7: National removal inventory (as of November 2020)
Type of case Number of cases Percentage of cases
Monitoring inventory 148,595 68.6%
Wanted inventory 33,480 15.4%
Stay inventory 16,039 7.5%
Working inventory 18,431 8.5%
      Actionable cases (included in working inventory cases) (4,106) (1.8%)
Total 216,545 100%

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