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.

Index

Refugee 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.

Due to privacy considerations, some values in these tables have been suppressed and replaced with the notation "--". As a result, components may not be a sum of the total indicated. In general, the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada suppresses values​ less than 20. Learn more about how the Board approaches small value suppression.

Statistics on refugee claims made by Irregular Border Crossers, by Calendar Year and Quarter

NationalIntakeFinalizedPending
AcceptedRejectedAbandonedWithdrawn & OtherTotal Finalized
Total 58,939 17,709 14,017 944 1,541 34,211 24,728
February to March 2017Footnote 1433----------433
April to June 20172,15913124​--
--
1732,419
July to September 20178,559409139228865810,320
October to December 20176,913
600493170114
1,377
15,856
January to March 20185,587519620109711,31920,124
April to June 20186,18368658470791,41924,888
July to September 20185,0347975751091261,60728,315
October to December 20183,7991,3051,319
541052,783
29,331
January to March 20192,918
2,4361,895
801094,520
27,729
April to June 20193,951
2,1802,14086904,49627,184
July to September 20195,141
1,5091,563
70170
3,31229,013
October to December 20194,148
1,6671,28889194
3,238
29,923
January to March 20203,493
2,208
1,310
721683,758
29,658
April to June 2020356491
​​66
----
574
29,440
July to September 2020124
1,090
1,182
--
​--
2,392
27,172
October to December 2020141
1,681
819
--
​--
2,585
24,728​
Note 1

Partial data for February and March 2017.

Return to note 1 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 of 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.

Statistics on refugee appeals by irregular border crossers, by Calendar Year and Quarter

Calendar Year and Quarter Filed Non-Merit Merit Total Finalizations Pending at end of period
Dismissed - Lack of RAD Jurisdiction Dismissed - Appeal not Perfected Dismissed - Withdrawn, Abandoned & Other Dismissed - Confirmed RPD Allowed - Referred Back Allowed - Substituted Determination
Total 12,323 78 307 141 6,770 649 1,150 9,095 3,228
April to June 2017--
 --------------
July to September 201797 ------
--------
106
October to December 2017361 --
--
--
--
--
--​​30
437
January to March 2018564 --
--
--​62
--
--
93 908
April to June 2018509 --
--
--
127 32 --
185 1,232
July to September 2018473 --
25 --
175 --
--
233 1,472
October to December 20181,063 --
​28 --
271 --
23 359 2,176
January to March 20191,630 --
28 --
420 38 42 543 3,263
April to June 20191,908
--
25 --
509 35 58 646 4,525
July to September 20191,481
--
33 --
651 64 70 855 5,151
October to December 20191,199 --
31 --
1,443 119 207 1,822
4,528
January to March 20201,135
--
22 --
1,702 139 347 2,233 3,430
April to June 202079
----------46 46 3,463
July to September 20201,075
--
43
​--
915
75
180
1,240
3,298
October to December 2020739
--
52
​--
483
98
158
809
3,228​
​​

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.

Statistics on irregular border crossers subject to a detention review

National Total Persons
Total ​1,179
February to March 20171--
April to June 201756
July to September 2017129
October to December 2017100
January to March 201877
April to June 2018163
July to September 2018171
October to December 2018154
January to March 2019120
April to June 2019172
July to September 2019160
October to December 2019128
January to March 2020135
April to June 202021
July to September 2020--
October to December 202027​
 
*

Partial data for February and March 2017.​​

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Statistics on total detention reviews concluded for irregular border crossers

National 48-hour reviews 7-day reviews 30-day reviews Total Concluded
Total 1,217 1,108 1,999 4,324
February to March 20171--
--
--
--
April to June 2017544632132
July to September 201711994121334
October to December 20176974117260
January to March 20185252100204
April to June 2018127107196430
July to September 2018129114209452
October to December 201810492210406
January to March 20198782160329
April to June 2019141131195467
July to September 2019110112256478
October to December 20199489175358
January to March 2020106
97
144347
April to June 2020​--
--
34
40
July to September 2020--
--
20
34
October to December 2020--
--
27
​41​
*

Partial data for February and March 2017.​

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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)

Statistics on admissibility hearings for irregular border crossers

 ReceivedFinalizedPending at
end of period
Departure OrderDeportation OrderExclusion OrderFavourableFailed to AppearWithdrawn
& Other
Total
Total 433 150 140 -- 35-- 36 380 53
February to March 20171--
----------------
April to June 2017--
--
--
----------
--
July to September 201736--
--
--
--
----
25--
October to December 201744--
--
--
--
--
--
3527
January to March 201836--
--
--
--
--
--
4023
April to June 201835--
--
--
--
--
--
2632
July to September 20184625--
----
--
--
4929
October to December 20183621--
--
--
--
--3827
January to March 201926--
--
----
----
3221
April to June 201941--
--
----
----
2240
July to September 201934--
--
----
--
--
2450
October to December 201921--
--
----
----
--
52
January to March 202038--
--
----
----
3060
April to June 2020--
--
--
----
------
57
July to September 2020--
--
--
----
----
​--
52
October to December 2020--
--
--
----
----
​--
53​
*

Partial data for February and March 2017.​​

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