Irregular border crosser statistics

Canada has been experiencing an influx of individuals crossing the Canada-United States border between ports of entry (“irregular border crossings”). The Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB), Canada’s largest independent administrative tribunal, plays a crucial role in Canada’s immigration system. The IRB, comprised of four distinct divisions, makes well-reasoned decisions on refugee and immigration matters, efficiently, fairly, and in accordance with the law. Below you can find IRB statistics in relation to these individuals.

Important notes about statistics on irregular border crossers

  • For the purposes of this report, irregular border crossers are defined as individuals who entered Canada between official ports of entry. Like other refugee protection claimants, irregular border crossers are referred to the IRB’s Refugee Protection Division (RPD) after Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) or the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) makes a determination of their eligibility.
  • The IRB is unable to report on irregular border crossers prior to February 2017, when system changes gave us the capacity to capture data on this population. However, due to some early inconsistencies in data entry it is possible that not all irregular border crossers are reflected in the statistics. In addition, only partial data is available for the months of February and March 2017.
  • The national level statistics in this report are generated by using data entered at referral by IRCC and the CBSA, as well as data from the IRB’s electronic case tracking system.
  • Figures are updated on a monthly basis, and are subject to change.

Index

Refugee protection claims by irregular border crossers

The Refugee Protection Division (RPD) of the IRB hears and decides claims for refugee protection made in Canada. Refugee protection can be conferred in Canada if the RPD determines that the claimant meets the United Nations definition of a Convention refugee, which has been incorporated into Canadian law, or that the claimant is a person in need of protection. Convention refugees are people who have a well-founded fear of persecution because of their race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular social group. Membership in a particular social group can include sexual orientation, gender identity, being a woman, and HIV status. Persons in need of protection must show that if they return to their country of nationality, they will face a danger of torture, a risk to their life or a risk of cruel and unusual treatment or punishment.

A claim for refugee protection can be made by speaking to an officer from the CBSA at any port of entry upon arrival in Canada, or to an officer from IRCC or CBSA at an inland office. The officer decides whether the claim is eligible to be referred to the IRB. If the claim is eligible, it is sent (“referred”) to the RPD to start the claim for refugee protection process.

Understanding statistics on refugee claims by irregular border crossers

Only individuals who entered Canada between official ports of entry, who made a claim for refugee protection and whose claim was deemed eligible and referred to the RPD for determination, are included in these statistics. The national level statistics below include claims heard by the RPD’s Irregular Border Crossing Response Team as well as claims heard by other RPD members. It is premature to draw conclusions based on this very small sample size. The following are useful definitions for the statistics.

  • Referred: Claims received by the RPD.
  • Finalized: Claims finalized by the RPD. Claims finalized in a given time period may have been referred to the RPD in a previous time period.
    • Accepted: The RPD has determined that the claimant is either a Convention refugee or a person in need of protection.
    • Rejected: The RPD has determined that the claimant is not a Convention refugee or a person in need of protection.
    • Abandoned: The RPD has declared that the claim has been abandoned because, for example, the completed Basis of Claim Form was not provided on time, the claimant’s current and correct contact information was not provided, or the claimant did not attend their refugee protection claim hearing or the special hearing on the abandonment of the claim (if required).
    • Withdrawn & Other: “Withdrawn” describes cases in which the claimant does not continue with their claim. The claimant can decide to withdraw their claim before the hearing upon written notice to the RPD. Once substantive evidence has been accepted at a hearing, the claimant must make an application to the RPD to be able to withdraw their claim. “Other” describes cases in which the proceeding is terminated upon notice from a CBSA officer because the claimant is not eligible to claim refugee protection (e.g., determined inadmissible to Canada on grounds of serious criminality or organized criminality) or other situations such as when the claimant has passed away.
    • Total: Total of all claims accepted, rejected, abandoned, withdrawn & other. Claims finalized in the time period indicated may have been referred to the RPD in a previous time period.
  • Pending: All claims that have not been finalized by the end of the identified time period.

Statistics on refugee claims by irregular border crossers

National Referred Finalized Pending
Accepted Rejected Abandoned Withdrawn & Other Total Finalized
Total 14,467 941 373 115 143 1,572Footnote 2
February 2017Footnote 1 38 0 0 0 0 0 38
March 2017Footnote 1 401 0 0 0 0 0 439
April 2017 667 17 0 3 1 21 1,085
May 2017 738 56 11 3 3 73 1,750
June 2017 758 159 28 1 7 195 2,313
July 2017 877 155 38 1 6 200 2,990
August 2017 2,331 135 61 4 40 240 5,081
September 2017 5,400 169 80 32 52 333 10,148
October 2017 3,257 250 155 71 34 510 12,895
Note 1

Partial data for February and March 2017.

Return to note 1 referrer

Note 2

It is premature to draw conclusions based on this very small sample size.

Return to note 2 referrer

 

Refugee Protection Claims Made by Irregular Border Crossers, Top 10 Countries of Alleged Persecution

Refugee appeals by irregular border crossers

The Refugee Appeal Division (RAD) of the IRB decides appeals from decisions of the Refugee Protection Division (RPD) to allow or reject claims for refugee protection. A person whose claim was rejected by the RPD can ask the RAD to review this decision in order to assess whether the RPD was wrong. An error by the RPD can be about the law, the facts, or both. The RAD decides whether to confirm or to change the RPD’s decision. It may also decide to send the case back to the RPD to hear it again, giving the directions to the RPD that it considers appropriate. The Minister can also appeal to the RAD a decision by the RPD allowing a claim.

Understanding statistics on refugee appeals by irregular border crossers

Only individuals who entered Canada between official ports of entry, who received a decision from the RPD, and who filed an appeal with the RAD are included in these national level statistics. Appeals finalized in a given time period may have been filed with the RAD in a previous time period. The following are useful definitions for the statistics.

  • Filed: New appeals filed to the RAD.
  • Non-Merit: Appeals dismissed and finalized without an analysis of the substance of the RPD decision:
    • Dismissed – Lack of RAD Jurisdiction: Certain types of RPD decisions cannot be appealed to the RAD—for example, claims of designated foreign nationals, rejected claims where the RPD stated that the claim had no credible basis, and claims that were determined by the RPD to be abandoned.
    • Dismissed – Appeal not Perfected: After the filing of a notice of appeal, a proper record was not submitted by the appellant to the RAD, or not within the proper time limit.
    • Dismissed – Withdrawn, Abandoned & Other: Other reasons or default in the proceedings that led the RAD to dismiss the appeal without an analysis of the merits.
  • Merit: Appeals finalized where there has been an analysis of the substance of the RPD decision:
    • Dismissed – Confirmed RPD: The RAD has confirmed the determination of the RPD, meaning that the appeal is dismissed.
    • Allowed – Referred Back: The RAD has allowed the appeal and referred the matter to the RPD for re-determination, giving the directions to the RPD that it considers appropriate.
    • Allowed – Substituted Determination: The RAD has allowed the appeal, set aside the RPD determination and substituted a determination that, in its opinion, should have been made.
  • Total Finalizations: All appeals finalized on merit or non-merit during the time period indicated. Appeals may have been filed in a previous time period.
  • Pending: All appeals that have not been finalized by the end of the identified time period.

Statistics on refugee appeals by irregular border crossers

National Filed Non-Merit Merit Total Finalizations Pending
Dismissed - Lack of RAD Jurisdiction Dismissed - Appeal not Perfected Dismissed - Withdrawn, Abandoned & Other Dismissed - Confirmed RPD Allowed - Referred Back Allowed - Substituted Determination
Total 172 0 0 1 3 4 0 8
June 2017 10 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 10
July 2017 21 0 0 1 0 0 0 1 30
August 2017 41 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 71
September 2017 35 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 106
October 2017 65 0 0 0 3 4 0 7 164

Detention reviews for irregular border crossers

The Immigration Division (ID) of the IRB reviews, at intervals established in the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA), the grounds for detention of foreign nationals or permanent residents detained under the IRPA. The grounds for detention are:

  • Danger to the public;
  • Flight Risk (unlikely to appear for examination, an admissibility hearing, removal, or at a proceeding that could lead to the Minister issuing a removal order under subsection 44(2) of the IRPA);
  • The Minister is taking necessary steps to inquire into a reasonable suspicion that the person concerned is inadmissible on grounds of security, violating human or international rights, serious criminality, criminality or organized criminality;
  • Identity of the person concerned has not been established; and
  • Identity of the designated foreign national has not been established.

When the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) detains a person and that person is not released, the ID must review the grounds for detention and decide whether there is reason under the IRPA to continue detention. The ID carries out a review:

  • within 48 hours of the start of detention or without delay afterwards;
  • then within 7 days of that first review; and
  • after that, the ID reviews the grounds for detention at least once every 30 days.

Based on the evidence and the testimony of both parties (the CBSA and the person concerned) and any other witnesses, the ID may order the release of the person, with or without conditions, or order continued detention.

Understanding statistics on detention reviews for irregular border crossers

Only individuals who entered Canada between official ports of entry, and who were detained by the CBSA and referred to the IRB for a detention review, are included in these national level statistics. These individuals may, or may not have also made a claim for refugee protection. Detention reviews finalized in a given time period may have been referred to the Immigration Division (ID) in a previous time period. The following are useful definitions for the statistics.

  • Total Persons: Total number of detained individuals who were the subject of a detention review (48-hour, 7-day, 30-day, or multiple detention reviews) in the identified time period.
  • 48 hour reviews: The number of 48 hour detention reviews, referred by the CBSA, that were concluded in the identified time period.
  • 7-day reviews: The number of 7 day detention reviews that were concluded in the identified time period.
  • 30-day reviews: The number of 30 day detention reviews that were concluded in the identified time period.
  • Total Concluded: The total number of detention reviews (48 hour, 7 day, and 30 day detention reviews) that were concluded in the identified time period.

Statistics on irregular border crossers subject to a detention review

National Total Persons
Total 206

March 20171

2

April 2017

22

May 2017

31

June 2017

36

July 2017

38

August 2017

67

September 2017

59

October 2017

60
*

Partial data for March 2017.

Return to note 1 referrer

Statistics on total detention reviews concluded for irregular border crossers

National 48-hour reviews 7-day reviews 30-day reviews Total Concluded
Total 210 176 201 587
March 20171 2 1 1 4
April 2017 22 14 2 38
May 2017 25 18 6 49
June 2017 15 17 22 54
July 2017 25 9 18 52
August 2017 50 51 45 146
September 2017 40 32 57 129
October 2017 31 34 50 115
*

Partial data for March 2017.

Return to note 1 referrer

Admissibility hearings for irregular border crossers

The Immigration Division (ID) of the IRB conducts admissibility hearings for certain categories of people believed to be inadmissible to Canada under the law.

At the request of the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), foreign nationals or permanent residents who are believed to have contravened the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) appear before the ID for admissibility hearings. In a limited number of cases, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) may also request an admissibility hearing. A person may not be able to enter or remain in Canada for one of the following reasons:

  • Security (s. 34)
  • Human or international rights violations (s. 35)
  • Serious criminality (s. 36)
  • Organized criminality (s. 37)
  • Health grounds (s. 38)
  • Financial reasons (s. 39)
  • Misrepresentation (s. 40)
  • Non-compliance with the IRPA (s. 41)
  • Inadmissible family member (s. 42)

Understanding statistics on admissibility hearings for irregular border crossers

Only individuals who entered Canada between official ports of entry, and for whom the CBSA requested an admissibility hearing are included in these national level statistics. These individuals may, or may nothave also made a claim for refugee protection. Admissibility hearings finalized in a given time period may have been referred to the ID in a previous time period. Following are useful definitions for the statistics.

  • Received: Requests for admissibility hearings received from the CBSA
  • Finalized:
    • Departure Order: The person concerned must leave Canada within 30 days after the order becomes enforceable. Before leaving, the person concerned must present themselves at a port of entry to get a certificate of departure from the CBSA as proof that they are leaving Canada. If the person concerned does not leave Canada within 30 days and/or does not obtain a certificate of departure, the departure order automatically becomes a deportation order.
    • Deportation Order: The person concerned must leave Canada and may not return unless they obtain written permission from the Government of Canada. This order is usually issued for serious matters, such as a security threat, serious criminality, or a serious violation of Canada's immigration laws.
    • Exclusion Order: The person concerned must leave Canada and may not return for one year or five years as set out in the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations unless they obtain written permission from the Government of Canada.
    • Allowed to Enter: The person concerned is allowed to enter Canada.
    • Allowed to Remain: The person concerned maintains their status and is allowed to stay in Canada.
    • Failed to Appear: The person concerned did not attend the hearing.
    • Withdrawn & Other: The ID may allow the application by the CBSA to withdraw the request for an admissibility hearing, and other situations such as when the person concerned has passed away.
    • Total: Total of admissibility hearings finalized, including departure, deportation and exclusion orders, allowed to enter and remain, failed to appear, withdrawn and other. Admissibility hearings finalized in the identified time period may have been referred in a previous time period.
  • Pending: Admissibility hearings that have not been finalized by the end of the identified time period.

Statistics on admissibility hearings for irregular border crossers

  Received Finalized Pending
Departure Order Deportation Order Exclusion Order Allowed to Enter Allowed to Remain Failed to Appear Withdrawn & Other Total
Total 79 17 31 3 1 2 1 8 64
April 2017 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 0
May 2017 10 1 2 0 0 0 1 0 4 6
June 2017 9 3 7 0 0 0 0 0 10 5
July 2017 8 3 1 0 1 0 0 4 10 3
August 2017 19 1 8 1 0 1 0 2 13 9
September 2017 14 2 5 0 0 1 0 1 9 15
October 2017 18 7 7 2 0 0 0 1 17 16