Last Updated on April 25, 2018 by Steven Meurrens

Anyone who presents themselves at a Canadian port of entry is making an application to enter Canada.  As such, that person is subject to an examination by an officer.  The purpose of such an examination is to determine whether or not the person can enter Canada as a visitor, student or foreign worker, and also to determine whether the individual is inadmissible to Canada.

Canadian immigration legislation requires that a person who is under examination must answer truthfully all questions put to them and also produce all relevant documents and information that an officer requires.

An officer during an examination can also compel a person to appear at a later date for further questioning.

When an Examination Ends

The examination of a person who seeks to enter Canada ends only when:

  • a determination is made that the person has a right to enter Canada, or is authorized to enter Canada as a temporary resident or permanent resident, the person is authorized to leave the port of entry at which the examination takes place and the person actually leaves the port of entry;
  • if the person is an in-transit passenger, the person departs from Canada;
  • the person is authorized to withdraw their application to enter Canada and an officer verifies their departure from Canada; or
  • an officer determines that someone is inadmissible to Canada and the person leaves the port of entry.

Refugee Claimants

There are special rules for when examination ends for refugee claimants.  In order to understand these rules, it is important to understand the process that a refugee claimant goes through when they file their initial claim.

When an individual makes a refugee claim when they are entering Canada, the Canada Border Services Agency will examine them.  The CBSA will determine whether the person is admissible to Canada and whether the refugee claim can be referred to the Refugee Protection Division.  A similar process occurs for inside-Canada refugee claimants.

A claim will be ineligible to be referred to the Refugee Protection Division for a refugee hearing if any of the following applies:

  • the person has already received protection as a refugee;
  • the Refugee Protection Division has already rejected claim by the person;
  • a prior claim by the person was determined to be ineligible to be referred to the Refugee Protection Division or if a previous claim had been withdrawn or abandoned;
  • the claimant has been recognized as a refugee by a country other than Canada and the claimant can be returned to that country;
  • the Safe Third Country Agreement with the United States applies; or
  • or the claimant has been determined to be inadmissible on grounds of security, violating human or international rights, serious criminality or organized criminality.

When a refugee makes a refugee claim to a border officer, a decision on whether the claimant meets specific eligibility criteria must be made within three working days. If a determination of eligibility is not made within three working days of the claim being made to an officer, the claim is deemed referred to the Refugee Protection Division for a refugee protection hearing. However, the officer can suspend and terminate the refugee protection hearing before the Refugee Protection Division where information comes to an officer’s attention that a claim is ineligible to be referred after the claim has been referred but before a decision has been rendered on the claim.

When an Examination Ends for Refugee Claimants

As of March 27, 2018 Canadian immigration legislation provides that an officer’s examination of an individual who is making a refugee claim ends when the later of the following occurs:

  • an officer determines that their claim is ineligible to proceed to the Refugee Protection Division or the Refugee Protection Division accepts or rejects their claim;
  • a decision in respect of the person is made that they are inadmissible to Canada and, in the case of a claim made at a port of entry, the person leaves the port of entry.

Prior to March 27, 2018 Canadian immigration legislation was silent as to when the examination of a refugee claimant ended. As a result of these amendments, it is now clear that an officer can continue to examine a refugee claimant well after they file their claim and leave the port of entry.

During the period of examination, CBSA officers will be able to question refugee claimants and require the claimant to produce all relevant evidence and documents that the officer reasonably requires.  This includes documents that validate a person’s identity; criminal history; or involvement in organized crime, groups that pose a security risk, or government regimes involved in crimes against humanity.