Immigration Referral

Immigration Referral

“Take a deep breath and don’t panic.”

  Officer duties.
Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) works closely with law enforcement agencies and related departments. Airport Border Services Officers (BSO) are equipped with tactical apparel and equipment including a firearm, handcuffs, baton, and pepper spray. Officers conduct examinations, execute baggage and body searches, issue or renew work and study permits, validate documents for new immigrants, and process new refugee claimants. Officers have the power to enforce outstanding warrants and can arrest or detain those suspected to have contravened or violated the law.

Are you who you say you are?
There are a number of reasons why you could be referred to immigration. Unless you are certain, do not make any assumptions. An officer will not rush or cut corners in order to accommodate passengers who claim they are in a hurry. Time consuming measures used to determine passenger veracity include cross-examination, background checks, and fingerprint verification.

Remain calm and avoid confrontation.
Your travel history is downloaded from a shared database and includes any enforcement actions that may have been taken against you. The answers to questions posed to you by a BSO may already be known, so be truthful. Your words and actions will be carefully scrutinized, and depending on the circumstances, can be transcribed into notes that are added to a database for future use.

Your actions are monitored.
Think twice before engaging in conversations with strangers or sharing personal and potentially incriminating information. You do not know who is watching or listening, and your information could be surreptitiously forwarded to the authorities or shady characters. Intoxication or aggressive behaviour can lead to detention or arrest after landing. Immigration detention cells (similar to jail cells) are used to temporarily hold unruly or inadmissible passengers until notification and arrival of the appropriate authorities.

Things to Cosider:
• Truthful and factual responses are easier to remember than fabricated stories.
• Crew members and passengers can be asked to collaborate with BSO inquiries.

Next up:
Secondary referral (last in this series)
“Remember what you packed in your bags.”

Eleitha Haynes

Retired Federal Government employee with years of experience as a Border Services Officer.
“The author assumes no responsibility or liability for errors or omissions in the content of this column.”