What is a Detention Review?

A detention review is a formal hearing conducted by the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) of Canada to assess whether an individual detained by the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) should continue to be held or can be released. This process ensures that the rights of the detained individual are upheld and that their detention is justified under Canadian immigration law. Here’s a closer look at what happens during a detention review:

What Happens During a Detention Review?

Presentation of Reasons for Detention

At the start of the hearing, a representative of the CBSA presents the reasons why the individual is being detained. These reasons could include the detainee not properly establishing their identity, being considered a flight risk (i.e., likely to not appear for immigration proceedings), posing a danger to the public, or being unlikely to comply with immigration law.

Presentation of Detainee’s Case

The detained individual, or their legal representative, then has the opportunity to counter these claims or provide reasons why they should be released. They might present evidence to refute CBSA’s concerns, prove their identity, or demonstrate they’re not a flight risk or a danger to the public. They may also propose a plan for release, such as having a guarantor or following specific conditions.


Both the CBSA representative and the detainee or their legal counsel can ask each other questions. The member of the IRB conducting the hearing can also ask questions to both parties to clarify any points or gather more information.

Deliberation and Decision

Once both sides have presented their case, the IRB member deliberates. They assess whether the reasons for detention are still valid or whether there’s an appropriate plan for release that addresses CBSA’s concerns. The decision can result in continued detention or release, often with certain conditions.

Communication of Decision

The IRB member communicates their decision and the reasons for it to both the detainee and the CBSA representative. If the detainee is ordered to remain in detention, another review will take place in the future (first within 48 hours, then in 7 days, and thereafter every 30 days).

Detention reviews are a critical aspect of Canada’s immigration system. They help balance the enforcement of immigration laws with the respect for individual rights and freedoms. As such, these hearings can significantly influence the detainee’s immigration process, making competent legal representation crucial.

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