What are my rights if I’m stopped by immigration officers?

Whether you’re a citizen, permanent resident, or refugee, you should know you rights if you're ever stopped by an immigration officer.

Who is responsible for immigration enforcement? 

The Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) is responsible for enforcing the law as it relates to immigration and refugees. 

CBSA carries out:

  • Detentions
  • Removals
  • Investigations
  • Intelligence and immigration control functions overseas

What powers do CBSA officers have?

CBSA officers CANNOT arrest citizens

CBSA officers can arrest protected persons and permanent residents ONLY if they have a signed warrant with your name on it.

CBSA officers can detain and/or arrest people without status without a warrant if they:

  • Are unsure of your identity;
  • Believe that you’re a danger to the public; or 
  • Think it’s possible that you won’t show up for your hearings, appointments, or removal

What should I do if I’m stopped by a CBSA officer?

  • Be polite and calm, but exercise your rights. 
  • Ask why you’re being stopped.
  • If their reason does not fall into one of the situations listed above, you have the right to leave. 
  • You do not have to answer questions asked by CBSA officers outside of an immigration examination or hearing. 

What should I do if a CBSA officer arrests me?

  • CBSA officers MUST tell you why you’re being arrested.
  • CBSA officers MUST inform you of your right to a lawyer. 
  • DO NOT answer their questions or sign their documents before consulting with your lawyer, immigration consultant, or a community member (e.g., someone from a mosque, church, etc.).