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What is an ‘irregular arrival’?

In some situations, the Minister of Public Safety can designate a group of people who arrive together in Canada as an ‘irregular arrival’. This makes members of that group ’designated foreign nationals’ unless they fall into one of the exceptions set out below. Designated foreign nationals who make refugee claims have fewer rights than other refugee claimants.

The Minister can designate a group as an 'irregular arrival' for one of these reasons:

  • The Minister has reasonable grounds to suspect that there is human smuggling or trafficking and that a criminal organization or terrorist group is involved.
  • The border authorities are not able to interview the group members about their identity or admissibility to Canada or to investigate them in a timely way.

The Minister can make this designation when the group arrives or after the group arrives in Canada.

Exceptions: People who arrived as part of the group will not be designated foreign nationals if:

  • they are Canadian citizens or
  • they have either permanent resident status or a document that they need for entry to Canada, such as a visa, and they are allowed to enter Canada.


Last updated: Nov 19, 2013

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