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.


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.

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

AcceptedRejectedAbandonedWithdrawn & OtherTotal Finalized
Total​63,291 27,297 18,919 1,134 4,763​52,113 11,178​
February to March 2017Footnote 1433--
April to June 20172,15913124--
July to September 20178,558409139228865810,319
October to December 20176,9126024931681161,37915,852
January to March 20185,581519620109711,31920,114
April to June 20186,18368658470831,42324,874
July to September 20185,0387955751091261,60528,307
October to December 20183,7981,3051,319541072,78529,320
January to March 20192,9182,4321,895801094,51627,722
April to June 20193,9572,1772,14186894,49327,186
July to September 20195,1491,5091,563701713,31329,022
October to December 20194,1391,6651,288891973,23929,922
January to March 20203,5002,2071,309721673,75529,667
April to June 202036049066--
July to September 20201291,0921,184
October to December 20201631,680816--
January to March 20212162,8731,142661484,22920,752
April to June 20212332,011993--
July to September 20213141,694916--
October to December​ 20217871,517948241,1713,66011,524
January to March 20222,7641,503904756283,11011,178
Note 1

Partial data for February and March 2017.

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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

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 15,900 94 447 615 10,053 1,174 2,349 14,732 1,168
April to June 2017--
July to September 201797--
October to December 2017361--
January to March 2018564--
April to June 2018509--
July to September 2018474--
October to December 20181,063--
January to March 20191,632--
April to June 20191,908--
July to September 20191,481--
October to December 20191,202--
January to March 20201,136--
April to June 202079--
July to September 20201,076--
October to December 2020745--
January to March 2021754--
April to June ​2021819--
July to September ​2021707--
October to December ​2021666--
January to March 2022617--
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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

Total Persons
Total                1,241
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
January to March 2021 -- 
April to June​ 2021 -- 
July to September​​ 2021 -- 
October to December 2021
January to March 2022


​Partial data for February and March 2017.​​

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Statistics on total detention reviews concluded for irregular border crossers

48-hour reviews 7-day reviews 30-day reviews Total Concluded
Total 1,296 1,181 ​2,109        4,58​6
February to March 20171--
April to June 201754
July to September 2017119
October to December 201769
January to March 201853
April to June 2018127
July to September 2018129
October to December 2018104
January to March 201987
April to June 2019141
July to September 2019110
October to December 201993
January to March 2020106
April to June 2020--
July to September 2020--
October to December 2020--
January to March 2021--
April to June 2021--
July to September 2021--
October to December 2021
January to March 2022

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)
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Statistics on admissibility hearings for irregular border crossers
 ReceivedFinalizedPending at
end of period
Departure OrderDeportation OrderExclusion OrderFavourableFailed to AppearWithdrawn
& Other
Total 530 169 154 -- 52 -- 46 448 74
February to March 20171------------------
April to June 2017--
July to September 201736--
October to December 201744--
January to March 201836--
April to June 201835------------2632
July to September 20184625----------
October to December 20183621----------3827
January to March 201927------------
April to June 201941------------2341
July to September 201936------------2453
October to December 201925--------------59
January to March 202045------------3074
April to June 2020----------------72
July to September 2020----------------69
October to December 2020----------------71
January to March 202125------------2373
April to June 202124--------------83
July to September 202129------------3082
October to December 2021
January to March 2022

Partial data for February and March 2017.​​

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