Canada's Immigration and Refugee System

Canada's immigration and refugee system has three main parts:

All three are part of the Government of Canada.

Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) has overall responsibility for immigration and refugee matters. For example, CIC:

  • decides who should be referred to the IRB to apply for refugee protection in Canada
  • selects those who can immigrate to Canada
  • issues visitor, worker and student visas
  • issues travel documents
  • determines residency obligations
  • grants Canadian citizenship
  • administers resettlement programs

The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) provides integrated border services, such as managing, controlling and securing Canada's borders, in support of national security priorities. For example, the CBSA:

  • admits people to Canada
  • refers refugee claims made at ports of entry to the IRB
  • detains people who are a security risk or a danger to the public
  • removes people who are inadmissible to Canada

The CBSA is part of the Government of Canada's public safety portfolio. It is an agency of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Canada (PSEP).

The Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB) makes decisions on immigration and refugee matters in Canada. The IRB:

The IRB is Canada's largest administrative tribunal. Although it reports to Parliament through the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, the IRB is independent of both Citizenship and Immigration Canada and the Canada Border Services Agency.

The IRB makes decisions that affect the lives and liberty of the people appearing before it. These decisions contribute to the security of Canadians and the integrity of our immigration and refugee system.

About the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada

The Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada is made up of three divisions:

The Refugee Protection Division (RPD) decides claims for refugee protection made by people already in Canada.

The Immigration Division (ID) hears two types of cases:

The Immigration Appeal Division (IAD) hears appeals on immigration matters. These include:

This publication provides an overview of the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada and what it does. It is not a legal document. For precise, legal information, please consult the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, Regulations, and Rules of the Refugee Protection Division, the Immigration Division and the Immigration Appeal Division. You can find them on the IRB Web site at:

Refugee Protection Division (RPD)
  • Hears refugee protection claim
  • Hears applications for vacation of refugee protection
  • Hears applications for cessation of refugee protection
Immigration Division (ID)
  • Conducts admissibility hearings for foreign nationals or permanent residents who seek entry into Canada, or who are already in Canada and are alleged to be inadmissible
  • Conducts detention reviews for foreign nationals or permanent residents who are detained for immigration reasons
Immigration Appeal Division (IAD)
  • Hears appeals of family sponsorship applications refused by Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC)
  • Hears appeals from certain removal orders made against permanent residents, Convention refugees and other protected persons, and holders of permanent resident visas
  • Hears appeals by permanent residents against whom a CIC officer outside of Canada has decided that they have not fulfilled their residency obligation
  • Hears appeals by the Minister from ID decisions at admissibility hearings 

Through each division, the IRB generally strives to deliver a simpler and faster form of justice than that provided by the courts, but with no less attentiveness to the rigour of the law  and  its  application  to  the  particular  facts  of  each  case. 

The  IRB  is  a  human  rights tribunal, and the women and men who work at the IRB respect the human dignity of all those who come before it. The decision-makers in the RPD and the IAD are Governor-in-Council  (GIC)  appointees  while  the  decision-makers  in  the  ID  are  public  service employees.

The  IRB  carries  out  its  work  in  three  regional  offices  in  Toronto,  Montréal  and Vancouver:

the Central Region, responsible for Ontario, except for the Ottawa area;
the Eastern Region, responsible for Quebec, the Ottawa area and the Atlantic provinces; and
the Western  Region,  responsible  for  the  Western  provinces.

All  three  divisions  hold hearings in these regions, supported by operational and adjudicative support. Internal and support services are managed at IRB Headquarters, located in Ottawa. 

Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada 
Library Square, 1600 - 300 West Georgia Street,
Vancouver, B.C. V6B 6C9
Telephone: (604) 666-5946

Documentation Centre (Immigration and Refugee Board)
Library Square, 17th Floor, 300 West Georgia Street, 
Vancouver, B.C. V6B 1T4
Telephone: (604) 666-1285 or (604) 666-5945
"Authorized Representative" Information
Your counsel must complete a Counsel Contact Information Form and return it to the nearest IRB Registry office.