Archived - Evaluation of the Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration Pilot Program - Final Report

December 2014

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Executive Summary

Background

The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) is responsible for providing integrated border services that support national security and public safety priorities. As part of its enforcement of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA), the CBSA may remove from Canada any person who has been issued a removal order for breaching the Act. The changes under the Refugee Reform Initiative that came into effect December 15, 2012 focused on making the removal of failed refugee claimants timelier and more cost-efficient.

The Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration (AVRR) pilot program was introduced by the CBSA to facilitate the timely removal of low-risk, failed refugee claimants through voluntary returns and thereby allow CBSA’s Inland Enforcement Operations to focus on higher-risk removals. With a budget of $31.9 million over four years, the CBSA identifies eligible failed refugee claimants and the International Organization for Migration (IOM), as the third party service provider, arranges their departure (e.g. plane tickets and travel documents).

Evaluation Purpose

The evaluation of the CBSA’s pilot program was identified in the CBSA Five-Year Evaluation Plan (2013-2018), approved by the Executive Evaluation Committee in July 2013. The purpose of the evaluation was to assess the relevance and performance of the pilot program, in accordance with the Treasury Board Secretariat Policy on Evaluation and to inform a decision on whether the pilot should become a permanent program. The data collected from various methodologies, using both quantitative and qualitative methods, was triangulated to develop the findings. The recommendation presented is based on these findings. The CBSA’s Program Evaluation Division carried out the evaluation research between October 2013 and March 2014. The research methodology is detailed in Appendix D.

Citizenship and Immigration Canada will use this evaluation as part of their overall evaluation of the Refugee Reform Initiative which is scheduled to be completed by December 2015.

Summary of Findings

Relevance

Is the pilot program aligned with the federal government’s and the CBSA’s responsibilities and priorities?

The pilot program supports the priorities of the Government of Canada and is aligned with the mandate of the CBSA to remove failed refugee claimants.

Is there a need for assisted voluntary returns in Canada?

There is a questionable need for voluntary returns as currently designed and implemented by the pilot program. For refugee claims that were submitted and decided after the refugee reform came into effect, the removals under the pilot program are less timely and cost more compared to other removals. The pilot program allowed for the removal of failed refugee claimants from the backlog and transition inventories faster than non-AVRR processes. Based on current refugee claimant volumes and AVRR uptake since the beginning of the pilot program, there may be lower enrolment in the future which will increase the per-removal cost.

Performance

To what extent was the pilot program designed and implemented to meet its objectives?

Overall, the pilot program was designed to meet its objectives and was implemented according to plan. Like many aspects of the refugee reform, the pilot program was designed based on a set of assumptions that could not be validated prior to launch, some of which proved not to be accurate. The design included targets for removals that did not consider all of the factors that could make a failed refugee claimant ineligible. As such, removal targets were over-estimated. The walk-in option for enrolment was not considered in the design. Participants who enrolled via the walk- in option were more likely to depart and left faster.

The pilot program was mostly implemented well, and adapted as issues arose. While the communication strategy was identified as a key success factor, it was not implemented consistently.

Did the pilot program encourage failed refugee claimants to voluntarily leave Canada in a timely manner?

The pilot program processed departures for failed refugee claims with older Immigration and Refugee Board decision dates faster than low-risk, non-AVRR removals. However, failed refugee claims that were filed and decided after the refugee reform came into effect were processed slower. For AVRR and non-AVRR departures alike, those from Designated Countries of Origin (DCOs)Footnote 1 were processed faster (AVRR: 110 days: non-AVRR: 131 days) than non-DCOs (AVRR: 149 days; non-AVRR: 131 days).

The reintegration assistance was designed to promote a sustainable return and encourage failed refugee claimants to leave sooner. Since the assistance received decreases with each additional appeal made, it was expected that more failed refugee claimants would choose to leave instead of filing an appeal. The assistance paid so far shows this was not the case as more participants made two appeals in 2013-2014 than in 2012-2013.

As of December 2013, three AVRR participants have tried to return to Canada. Two applied for authorization to return and were denied. A third tried to enter the country with false documents and was stopped at the border. Considering that 2,736 pilot program participants were eligible to apply by December 2013, these early results suggest that the pilot program returns are sustainable.

Efficiency and Economy

Did the pilot program result in the cost-effective removal of failed refugee claimants?

The pilot program per-removal cost, including reintegration assistance, was almost double the cost of a low-risk removal which is not eligible for reintegration assistance. The pilot program requires about half the level of effort (10.5 hours) compared to a low-risk removal (20.9 hours). The reintegration assistance ($1,594) doubles the per-removal cost ($1,376) and thereby makes AVRR removals more expensive.

Canada’s cost per removal excluding reintegration assistance is comparable to other countries. Other countries with voluntary removal programs compare their per-return costs to high-risk removals. They report that their voluntary removals cost about one third the cost of a high-risk removal. This is similar to the pilot program removal costs which are about one third (29%) of a high-risk removal in Canada.

There were unexpected costs associated with the implementation of the DCO. Failed refugee claimants from DCOs receive a maximum of $500 upon departure, while those from a non-DCO receive a maximum $2,000 of in-kind assistance. However, the Immigration and Refugee Board databases did not initially include a marker to indicate which failed refugee claimants were from a DCO. As a result, about 142 pilot program participants received an estimated $234,000 in reintegration assistance to which they would not have been entitled if their DCO status had been correctly identified.

The number of eligible failed refugee claimants who were screened as eligible and interested but either did not enrol or withdrew after enrolling was not anticipated. As staff completed the administrative tasks that did not result in a departure, these individuals added an estimated $540,000 to the pilot program’s administrative costs.

Can the pilot program be replicated in other parts of the country?

The primary needs identified in the regions were for assistance with hard to remove individuals and a fast track option for failed refugee claimants who were still on departure orders. Given the trends and volume in refugee claims, it is not clear if AVRR could be replicated in other parts of the country.

Recommendations, Management Response and Action Plan

Overall Management Response

The Programs Branch accepts the recommendation. The findings of the evaluation show that the AVRR Pilot Program was implemented well, even if it did not achieve its core objectives to remove failed refugee claimants in a more timely and cost-effective manner. Programs Branch is encouraged by the positive results thus far: client uptake is solid, surpassing the anticipated projection of 30%; the service provider (International Organization for Migration) is delivering on its part of the project; walk-in clients leave faster than those referred by the CBSA; the pilot’s cost per removal (without reintegration assistance) is comparable to AVRs in other countries; and only three AVRR participants have tried to return to Canada (from June 2012 to December 2013), which suggests that returns are sustainable.

The recommendation was drafted to maximize the benefit of the pilot program for the remainder of the pilot program.

In light of these findings, it is recommended that:

Recommendation 1:

The Vice-President of the Programs Branch, in cooperation with the Vice-President of the Operations Branch, produce and implement lessons learned strategies that address short-term adjustments for the remainder of the pilot program.

Management Response

The Programs Branch accepts the recommendation. It will implement enhancements to the pilot to improve its effectiveness in the short term and present options for decision over its long term future.

Management Action Plan Completion date
The Programs Branch, in cooperation with the Operations Branch and other stakeholders will provide senior management with options to implement changes for managing the remainder of the AVRR pilot that ensures both fiscal accountability and the maximization of results. September 2014

1. Introduction and Context

The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) is responsible for providing integrated border services that support national security and public safety priorities. As part of its enforcement of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA), the CBSA may remove from Canada any person who has been issued a removal order for breaching the Act.

The Refugee Reform Initiative, which came into effect December 15, 2012, is underpinned by the Balanced Refugee Reform Act (BRRA) and the Protecting Canada’s Immigration System Act (PCISA).Footnote 2 Under the BRRA,Footnote 3 the CBSA was allocated resources to hire more officers to reduce the backlog of failed refugee claimants and announced that a voluntary return pilot would be put in place to streamline the removal of low-risk, failed refugee claimants. The PCISAFootnote 4 established the target for the CBSA to remove 80% of failed refugee claimants within one year of a negative refugee determination by the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB). The PCISA also introduced the authority for the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Canada to designate some countries as safe to facilitate the removal of failed refugee claimants to these countries. In addition, the appeals available to recent unsuccessful refugee claimants were changed which increased the number of failed refugee claimants who were deemed ready for removal.Footnote 5

The Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration (AVRR) pilot program was introduced by the CBSA to facilitate the timely removal of low-risk, failed refugee claimants through voluntary returns and thereby enable CBSA’s Inland Enforcement Division to focus on higher-risk removals. The pilot program was implemented exclusively within the Greater Toronto Area (GTA)Footnote 6 on June 29, 2012 and is planned to run until March 31, 2015. The CBSA engaged the International Organization for Migration (IOM) as the third-party service provider. The CBSA is responsible for determining participant eligibility and referring them to the IOM to plan and implement the departure. (See Appendix B for details.)

A budget of $31.9 million was allocated over four years. This includes funding for the CBSA and IOM personnel who process the departures as well as the reintegration assistance, plane tickets, and travel documents for those who return under the pilot program. The reintegration assistance offers participants from non-Designated Countries of Origin (DCO) between $1,000 and $2,000 per person of in-kind support in their home country,Footnote 7 while participants from countries designated as safe receive a maximum of $500 in cash upon departure.Footnote 8

Evaluation Purpose and Scope

The evaluation of the CBSA’s pilot program was identified as a priority for FY 2014-2015 in the FY 2013-2018 CBSA Five-Year Program Evaluation Plan which wasapproved by the Executive Evaluation Committee in July 2013.

The purpose of this evaluation was to examine the relevance and performance of the pilot program in accordance with the Treasury Board Secretariat Policy on EvaluationFootnote 9 and to inform a decision on whether the pilot should become a permanent program. Specifically, the evaluation examined the alignment of the pilot program with the ongoing needs and priorities of the Government of Canada and the CBSA as well as the extent to which the expected results were achieved. The evaluation, to the extent possible, shows the difference between the processing of failed refugee claimants under the system before and after the refugee reform as well as before and after the pilot program was implemented, to determine the extent to which it has contributed to removing failed refugee claimants in a timely and cost-efficient manner.

Citizenship and Immigration Canada will use this evaluation as part of their overall evaluation of the Refugee Reform Initiative, which is scheduled to be completed by December 2015. The IOM will conduct an evaluation focused on the impact of the reintegration assistance component of the pilot program on participants, to be completed in fall 2014.

Exhibit 1 below outlines the scope of the evaluation.

Exhibit 1: Evaluation Questions

  • Evaluation Issue: Relevance (Is there a continued and on-going need for the program?)
    • Is the pilot program aligned with the federal government’s and the CBSA’s responsibilities and priorities?
    • Is there a need for assisted voluntary returns in Canada?
  • Evaluation Issue: Performance - Achievement of Expected Outcomes (Are the activities achieving the expected results?)
    • To what extent was the pilot program designed and implemented to meet its objectives?
    • Did the pilot program encourage failed refugee claimants to voluntarily leave Canada in a timely manner?
  • Evaluation Issue: Efficiency and Economy (Demonstration of Efficiency and Economy)
    • Did the pilot program result in the cost-effective removal of failed refugee claimants?
    • Can the pilot program be replicated in other parts of the country?

The CBSA Program Evaluation Division carried out the evaluation research between October 2013 and March 2014. Details of the research methodologies are provided in Appendix D.

Evaluation Research Limitations

The pilot program has only been in operation since June 2012. Consequently, there was limited time series data available to assess the outcomes.

2. Key Findings – Relevance

Is the pilot program aligned with the federal government’s and the CBSA’s responsibilities and priorities?

The pilot program is aligned with the Government of Canada and CBSA priorities to reform the refugee system, including voluntary returns as a mechanism to return failed refugee claimants to their home country.

Government of Canada

The Government of Canada has emphasized the importance of reforming the refugee system.Footnote 10 As demonstrated by the laws passed in recent years (e.g. BRRA and PCISA), streamlining the refugee system and removing failed refugees faster and in a more cost-effective manner is a Federal Government priority. Voluntary returns were identified as a way to achieve this objective.

Canada Border Services Agency

Under the Canada Border Services Agency Act, the CBSA administers some 90 Acts, including the IRPAFootnote 11which delegates the authority to enforce removal orders to the CBSA.Footnote 12 In response to the BRRA and PCISA,Footnote 13 the CBSA developed the following measures to manage removals: 1) Refugee Reform Backlog Reduction Strategy, 2) timely removals, and 3) the AVRR pilot program.Footnote 14

Is there a need for assisted voluntary returns in Canada?

Based on the pilot program’s expected results of the timely and cost-effective departure of low-risk, failed refugee claimants, the need for the AVRR as currently designed is questionable in that removals take longer and cost more compared to other low-risk removals since the refugee reform came into effect.

Compared to removals conducted by Inland Enforcement, the pilot program processed departures faster for older cases, but not for those filed and decided under the new refugee reform rules. (See Exhibit 4 for details on the processing times.) In addition, the cost of an AVRR removal, including reintegration assistance, is more expensive than a low-risk removal processed by Inland Enforcement. (See Exhibit 7 for details on the cost per type of removal.) However, an AVRR removal requires one half the level of effort (10.5 hours) per departure compared to a low-risk removal (20.9 hours). (See Exhibit 7 for an estimate of the level of effort per removal type.) As a result, the pilot program saved 32,687 hoursFootnote 15 which supports the stated objective of allowing Inland Enforcement to focus on higher-risk removals.

Based on AVRR uptake statistics since the beginning of the pilot program, there may be lower enrolment in the future which will increase the per-removal cost. The pilot program has also had strong uptake among failed refugees from a limited number of countries.

The number of AVRR removals exceeded expectations in the first year but fell short in the second year. This was due in part to a combination of the refugee reform and the introduction of visa requirements for some countries, which led to a decrease in the total number of refugee claims from 33,250 in 2009 to 10,380 in 2013.Footnote 16 In the first year, more failed refugee claimants departed as a result of the refugee reform. In the second year, there were fewer refugee claims overall, fewer resources in Inland Enforcement and enrolment via the walk-in option declined. (See the Performance section for details on targets and the walk-in enrolment.) Similarly, Inland Enforcement removals in the GTA reached 52.4% of their non-criminal removals targets in 2013-2014.

Pilot program participants have been returned to 94 countries with about half (48.0%) of them going to Hungary and another 9.2% going to Colombia. Thirty-eight (40.4%) of the countries each received three returns or less. The top five AVRR countries of return accounted for 70.2% of all returns. The source countries of failed refugees before and after the refugee reform was implemented have changed. Only one, China, remains among the top five source countries for refugees. Considering those that have taken advantage of the pilot program to date only Colombia remains a top source country. As a result, the uptake of the pilot program may decrease. (Exhibit 2)

Exhibit 2: Comparison of Countries of Return and Source Countries for Refugees after the Refugee Reform

Top 5 AVRR countries of return / % of total returns Top 5 source countries for refugees before refugee reform / % of total inventory Top 5 source countries for refugees after refugee reform / % of total inventory Top 5 countries in the CBSA working inventory Footnote 17/ % of total working inventory
Name # Name # Name # Name #
Hungary*/ 48.0% 1,510 Hungary*/ 9.3% 1,965 China/ 7.3% 739 China/ 12.1% 2,118
Colombia/ 9.2% 290 China/ 8.1% 1,710 Pakistan/ 6.0% 607 Mexico* / 10.3% 1,806
Croatia*/ 5.2% 164 Croatia*/ 4.3% 913 Colombia/ 5.6% 574 United States of America* / 6.8% 1,187
Czech Republic* / 4.0% 125 Pakistan/ 4.2% 887 Nigeria/ 4.6% 466 Hungary* / 6.6% 1,153
Slovak Republic*/ 3.7% 117 People’s Democratic Republic of Korea/ 3.5% 744 Syria**/ 4.5% 461 India/ 6.6% 1,148

Source: AVRR: Monthly Progress Reports, March 2014. CBSA Working inventory: CBSA administrative data, January 2014. The total CBSA working inventory (January 2014) was 17,522. The total source country working inventory before the reform was 21,059 and after the reform it was 10,182. Top 5 source countries before and after Immigration reform: CIC administrative data, December 2013; Period Before Reforms: December 15, 2011 to December 14, 2012; Period After the Reforms: December 15, 2012 to December 14, 2013.

* Designated countries of origin are deemed by the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration to be safe.

** Removals to Syria are currently on hold until the situation stabilizes. Source: Citizenship and Immigration, (2013), Notice - Update on the situation in Syria. (http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/department/media/notices/2013-04-17.asp) (Accessed April 11, 2014).

Since the 1970s, voluntary return programs have been used in Europe to encourage individuals to return to their home countries Footnote 18 and international bodies such as the United National High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) support voluntary return programs.Footnote 19

One of the primary drivers for adopting voluntary return programs is to return people to their home countries in a manner that protects their human rights and dignity.Footnote 20 Part of the UNHCR’s ten-point plan is to encourage voluntary, sustainable returns to focus on the identification and protection of bone fide refugees who are in need of protection instead of economic migrants.Footnote 21The search for better economic conditions is the primary driver for the majority of migrants.Footnote 22 The top five destination countries for pilot program participants reported a lower gross domestic product in 2008 and growth has remained low since then.Footnote 23

3. Key Findings – Performance

To what extent was the pilot program designed and implemented to meet its objectives?

Overall, the pilot program was designed to meet its objectives and was implemented according to plan. Some of the underlying assumptions proved not to be accurate.

The AVRR Pilot Program FrameworkFootnote 24 outlined the pilot’s design and implementation. As a new program for the CBSA, the design was based on assumptions that could not be validated prior to the launch (e.g. whether target levels were realistic, whether everyone who enrolled would depart via the pilot program).

The implementation was adapted as unexpected issues arose (e.g. enrolment via the walk-in option was not expected, consequently procedures were developed and implemented later). Once PCISA was passed, the CBSA and the IOM set up their operations quickly to launch the AVRR on June 29, 2012. The CBSA finalized standard operating procedures and delivered training. The IOM set up and staffed its first office in Canada in three months, half the time they usually require.

The assumptions used to estimate removal targets did not consider all of the factors that could make a failed refugee claimant ineligible for the pilot program. The level of removals was over-estimated.

The target in the AVRR Framework was for 30% of eligible failed refugee claimants to participate in the pilot program. This target was exceeded as 42.6% of those who were eligible departed under the pilot program.Footnote 25 This measure increased from 37.2% of eligible participants in 2012-2013 to 50.1% in 2013-2014.

Removals targets were also estimated based on the inventory of removal ready failed refugee claimants in the GTA, less an estimate (15%) for those with criminal records. However, other factors, such as outstanding litigation, sponsorships and custody battles, also make a candidate ineligible for the pilot program but were not included in calculating the target.Footnote 26 The pilot program exceeded its first year target (nine months from June 2012 to March 2013) (Target: 1,517, Actual: 1,602) reflecting temporary higher staff levels in Inland Enforcement which screens and refers failed refugee claimants to the pilot program and the unexpected number of walk-in participants. The second year target which was higher to reflect a full year of operations was not met (Target: 2,700; Actual: 1,541) due to declining staff levels in Inland Enforcement, and the fall in walk-in traffic. (See Appendix E for a map of Inland Enforcement and the AVRR walk-in processes.)

The IOM coordinated the returns for about two thirds of the participants who were referred to them by the CBSA AVRR Unit, and acquired travel documents for almost 20% of participants.

According to the AVRR Framework, the IOM was to coordinate departures for 80% of the participants that the CBSA referred to them. While this target was not met, the assumptions used to establish the target did not anticipate that almost a third (1,384 or 29.4%) of those screened as eligible and interested would not leave under the pilot program. Some potential participants (716 or 51.7%) did not enrol in the pilot program after the CBSA had referred them to the IOM while others (642 or 46.4%) withdrew after enrolling. A small number (26 or 1.9%) were removed from the program for breach of conditions. The reasons for withdrawal after enrolment included applications for a Pre-Removal Risk Assessment (159 or 3.4%),Footnote 27 inability to obtain travel documents (10 or 0.2%), requested a delay in their removal (72 or 1.5 %) or failed to show at the airport (90 or 1.9%).Footnote 28

The IOM acquired travel documents for 18.6% of AVRR departures.Footnote 29 Hungary and CanadaFootnote 30 accounted for 42.6% (217) of the travel documents acquired, though documents were acquired from 67 countries in total, including Nigeria (9), Sri Lanka (6) and China (4). Maintaining good relations with the receiving countries to facilitate the returns and acquire travel documents was identified as a best practice for voluntary return programs.Footnote 31

The AVRR Framework included communication activities to promote the pilot program that were generally implemented. However, there were gaps.

The AVRR Framework identified communication with prospective participants as a critical success factor. Key communications tools such as Inland Enforcement interviews, information on AVRR provided to refugee claimants at the time they make their claim, brochures, posters and postcards, and public outreach sessions have been conducted during the pilot (e.g. the AVRR Unit and the IOM staff conducted outreach sessions with community organizations that work with refugee groups, though with little analysis to determine if the sessions correlated with enrolment patterns.Footnote 32)

For external communications, neither the IRB nor CIC websites direct failed refugee claimants to the pilot program or to CBSA Inland Enforcement if they choose to leave Canada rather than submit an appeal.Footnote 33 They also do not explain that if failed refugee claimants leave within 30 days, they do not require written permission to return to Canada. However, if they leave after 30 days they require written permission to return.Footnote 34 The letter the IRB sends to failed refugee claimants that their claim has been refused outlines only the available appeal options. The provision for the IRB to also provide an AVRR information kit with the decision letter as specified in foundational documents was not done.

A multi-country study of voluntary return programs identified the following communications best practices:Footnote 35

  • present clear and consistent policy measures to build trust among failed refugee claimants;
  • use outreach to raise awareness of the voluntary return program and what it offers;
  • ensure that government policies among departments do not contradict each other;
  • present policies clearly and avoid miscommunications and misunderstandings, and;
  • disseminate pilot program information well.

Did the pilot program encourage failed refugee claimants to voluntarily leave Canada in a timely manner?

The average number of days between the IRB decision date and the departure date was used to estimate the amount of time required to remove a failed refugee claimant under AVRR and the Inland Enforcement stream, by DCO and non-DCO. Considering the impact of the refugee reform on removals, departures were analyzed by when the refugee claim was filed and decided in relation to these reforms.Footnote 36 (Exhibit 3)

Exhibit 3: Refugee Claim Inventory in Relation to Refugee Reform

The diagram shows a time line divided by three boxes in a row from left to right with descriptions. The centre of the line is marked by the date December 15, 2012 Refugee Reform Initiative came into force.

The box on the left represents refugee claims that were filed and decided before December 15, 2012. This is the refugee claim Backlog inventory.

The middle box represents those refugee claims that were filed before December 15, 2012 but were decided after that date. This is the Transition inventory of refugee claims.

The box on the right represents refugee claims that were filed and decided after December 15, 2012. This is the New System refugee claim inventory.

The pilot program processed departures faster for failed refugee claims from the backlog and transition inventories, but not for failed refugee claims from the new system inventory. For AVRR and non-AVRR departures alike, failed refugees from DCOs were processed faster than non-DCOs.

As shown in Exhibit 4, the pilot program resulted in faster removal of failed refugee claimants from the backlog and transition inventories and, as expected, claimants from DCOs departed faster than those from non-DCOs. Departures for failed refugee claimants from the new system inventory took on average less than the average number of days to depart compared to the two older inventories. However, the pilot program processed departures from the new system inventory more slowly than Inland Enforcement. It is not uncommon that voluntary returns take longer (e.g. voluntary returns in the United Kingdom take 55 days longer to processFootnote 37).

Exhibit 4: Average Processing Time from IRB Decision to Departure, June 2012 to December 2013, in Days

  Designated Countries of Origin Non- Designated Countries of Origin Total
  Non AVRR AVRR Difference Non AVRR AVRR Difference Non AVRR AVRR Difference
Backlog - - - 582.9 322.0 260.9 - - -
Transition 130.9 110.1 20.8 163.9 149.4 14.5 154.4 120.4 34.0
New System 32.0 52.0 -20.0 68.9 83.8 -14.9 65.2 75.0 -9.8

Source: Calculated from administrative data. A negative difference indicates that the pilot program process is slower. Of the AVRR departures, 12.7% were DCOs and 87.3% were non-DCOs while 1.7% of non-AVRR departures were DCOs and 98.3% were non-DCOs.

The pilot program contributed to reducing the backlog inventory of failed refugee claimants.

After the pilot program was launched, the average number of days from IRB decision to departure for a non-AVRR removal increased by 88.0 days. The straight forward removals were processed by the pilot program leaving the more complex cases for Inland Enforcement. Almost all (4,327 or 95.8%) of the non-AVRR departures were from the backlog inventory compared to the pilot program departures which were a mix of the backlog inventory (2,240 or 82.1%) and the transition inventory (458 or 16.8%). As such, the non-AVRR departures were more likely to have older IRB decision dates which resulted in longer average processing times. Overall, 83.2% (2,268) of pilot program participants departed within one year of their last negative decision from the IRB compared to 53.6% (2,420) for non-AVRR low-risk removals.

Pilot program participants who enrol via the walk-in option are more likely to leave and leave faster than those who enrol via a screening interview conducted by Inland Enforcement officers.

The majority (6,659 or 81.1%) of AVRR screening interviews are conducted by Inland Enforcement. They enrol one participant for every 2.6 interviews they conduct and about one quarter (1,815 or 27.3%) of those screened as eligible and interested depart via the pilot program. By comparison, walk-in participants represent 19% of screening interviews (conducted by the CBSA AVRR Unit), and most (1,328 or 85.8%) depart. They account for 42% of all departures under the pilot program. The number of walk-ins was unexpected and the design assumed that the primary vehicle for enrolment would be the Inland Enforcement interview. Pilot program participants who enrol via the walk-in option are motivated to leave.

Enrolment in the pilot program was analyzed by interview and walk-in options and further broken down by when the claim was filed and decided in relation to the refugee reform and if the country of return had been designated as safe or not.Footnote 38 Exhibit 5 shows the average processing time for pilot program participants who enrolled via an Inland Enforcement interview and those who enrolled via the walk-in option. Almost all (410 or 96.7%) of the pilot program participants who departed within 90 days had enrolled via the walk-in option. The latter is consistently faster than the interview route both for those returning to a DCO and a non-DCO.

Exhibit 5: Average Number of Days from IRB Decision to Departure for Pilot Program Participants Who Enrolled via Interview and Walk-in Options, June 2012 to December 2013

The diagram shows a graph of the number of days for an AVRR participant to depart Canada. The data is divided into the backlog and transition inventories and further divided by whether the AVRR participant enrolled after an interview or via the walk-in process. The transition inventory is also by DCO and non-DCO.

The first two data columns are for the non-DCO removals from the backlog inventory. There were 367 AVRR participants who enrolled after an interview and 245 who enrolled via the walk-in process.

The data for the DCO removals from the transition inventory is shown next. There were 251 AVRR participants who enrolled after an interview and 81 who enrolled via the walk-in process.

On the far right, the data for the non-DCO removals from the transition inventory is shown. There were 294 AVRR participants who enrolled after an interview and 115 who enrolled via the walk-in process.

Source: Calculated from Administrative data.Footnote 39

Over a third (826 or 36.9%) of the pilot program participants in the backlog inventory and 82.8% (280) of pilot program participants in the transition inventory enrolled via the walk-in option.

The amount of reintegration assistance was not a significant factor for whether or not pilot program participants appealed the negative decision of their refugee claim.

The reintegration assistance was designed to promote a sustainable return and encourage participants to leave sooner. The amount of assistance provided is tied to the number of appeals participants made to overturn the IRB’s decision.Footnote 40,Footnote 41 In the two years the pilot program has been operating, about 40% of those departing under the pilot program either had not appealed or withdrew their appeal before a decision was rendered (39.3% in 2012-2013 and 38.7% in 2013-2014), those with one appeal decision fell slightly (50.8% in 2012-2013, 47.3% in 2013-2014), and those with two appeal decisions rose slightly (9.9% in 2012-2013 and 13.9% in 2013-2014). The average reintegration assistance between June 29, 2012 and December 2013 was $1,594 per person.Footnote 42 This includes 427 AVRR participants with DCO status who received a maximum of $500 each.

As of December 2013, three pilot program participants have tried to return to Canada. Two applied for permission to return and were denied and a third tried to re-enter using false documents and was stopped at the border. Considering that 2,736 pilot program participants were eligible to apply by December 2013, these early results suggest that the pilot program returns are sustainable.

Almost half (47.2%) of the pilot program participants used their reintegration assistance for temporary housing, almost a third (29.4%) used it for household goods, and 12.8% used it for training or to start a business.Footnote 43 The returnees’ personal circumstances (e.g. single, family) were primary drivers in how they spent their assistance.Footnote 44 The pilot program offers participants the same amount of reintegration assistance regardless of their country of return.

4. Demonstration of Efficiency and Economy

Did the pilot program result in the cost-effective removal of failed refugee claimants?

Potential cost savings were one of the drivers behind the pilot program. The costs were analyzed as follows:

  • total budget;
  • costs and level of effort according to the Resource Allocation Model, and;
  • international cost comparison.

Budget amounts were mostly adequate to cover costs. The shortfall in 2012-2013 reflected the higher than anticipated pilot program participation rate which resulted in more departures and more reintegration assistance to disperse.

The pilot program funding combines the CBSA salary and non-salary costsFootnote 45 and the IOM operating and direct pilot program costs (e.g. reintegration assistance, plane tickets, and travel documents). (Exhibit 6) In FY 2012-2013, there were more pilot program departures (1,602) than expected creating a shortfall in the non-salary budget. Since there were fewer departures (1,541) in FY 2013-2014, fewer resources were required.

Exhibit 6: Pilot Program Budget, 2012-2013 to 2013-2014, in $000s

  2012-2013* 2013-2014 Total
Salary Budget Actual Variance Budget Actual Variance Budget Actual Variance
NHQ $734 $608 $126 $804 $664 $140 $1,538 $1,273 $265
Non-salary
IOM $5,263 $5,283 -$20 $10,232 $8,725 $1,507 $15,496 $14,007 $1,489
NHQ $43 $109 -$66 $48 $196 -$148 $92 $305 -$213
Non salary sub-total $5,306 $5,392 -$86 $10,280 $8,921 $1,359 $15,588 $14,312 $1,276
Grand Total $6,040 $6,000 $40 $11,084 $9,585 $1,499 $17,126 $15,585 $1,541

Source: Administrative data. 2013-2014 data is until February 19, 2014 * The pilot program launched on June 29, 2012 so 2012-2013 represents nine months of operations. Salary does not include employee benefit plan. IOM amount includes all IOM operating costs and direct pilot program participant costs (e.g. reintegration assistance, plane tickets, and travel documents). A negative value indicates a shortfall.

As the number of pilot program departures fell, the total cost per departure rose.

Using the overall pilot program budget as per Exhibit 6, in FY 2012-2013, the total cost per departure was $3,745. With the drop in the number of participants in FY 2013-2014, the total cost per departure rose to $6,220. This change reflects the falling number of participants and departures in the pilot program. Since the pilot program launch, the total cost per departure was $4,959.Footnote 46

Pilot program removals cost about one third of high-risk removals, but a little over double that of low-risk removals.

The cost of a pilot program departure was compared to both a high-risk removal and low-risk removal.Footnote 47 Since pilot program eligibility excludes applicants with a criminal record,Footnote 48 the costs for low-risk removals represent those that are most similar to the pilot program participants. As shown in Exhibit 8, since other countries with voluntary removal programs compare their costs to high-risk removals, the evaluation included both measures. Based on the CBSA’s Resource Allocation Model, the level of effort (in hours) and costs (e.g. salary, plane tickets, and reintegration assistance) were compared for each type of removal. (Exhibit 7)

Exhibit 7: Summary of Costs and Level of Effort per Departure as Estimated by the Resource Allocation Model, 2012-2013

  Number of Returns Costs (Salary & Non-Salary) Level of Effort (hours)
Pilot Program Departure 3,143 $2,969 10.5
Low-risk removal (Unescorted) 12,320 $1,435 20.9
High-risk removal (Escorted) 1,085 $10,250 60.0

Source: Number of pilot program returns as of March 2014. Figures were calculated using the CBSA’s Resource Allocation Model data. The model for the pilot program includes Inland Enforcement, the AVRR Unit and the IOM contributions. The Resource Allocation Model identifies two types of low-risk removals and three types of high-risk removals. The corresponding costs and level of effort are the weighted averages (by the number of departures for each removal type) to facilitate the comparison.

Estimates show that the direct cost for each pilot program departure was $2,969 of which the reintegration assistance and IOM local office costs account for about half ($1,594) and the balance is the pilot program’s cost to process the removal ($1,376). As such, a pilot program removal is about 29.0% of the average cost of a high-risk removal ($10,250), though just over double (206.8%) the average cost of a low-risk removal ($1,435).

The IOM completes about half of the removal process for pilot program participants thereby enabling CBSA officers to redirect their efforts to higher risk removals. Using the level of effort in Exhibit 7, Inland Enforcement completes a removal in an estimated 20.9 hours compared to an estimated 10.5 hours for the same removals via the pilot program. The IOM completes 5.2 hours of this work.

The Canadian pilot program cost per removal without reintegration assistance is similar to voluntary return programs in other countries.

To benchmark against voluntary return programs offered by other countries, the evaluation undertook an international comparison. International voluntary return programs compare pilot program removal costs to high-risk removal costs and report that their voluntary returns cost is about one third of their high-risk removals.Footnote 49 In the United Kingdom, an estimated 40% of pilot program participants apply from detention which makes high-risk removals the better comparison.Footnote 50 As shown in Exhibit 8, the reintegration allowances offered abroad are higher than those offered by the Canadian program which increases their total cost. The European Return Fund pays part of the cost of voluntary returns in European countries which eases the financial burden on individual states.Footnote 51

Exhibit 8: Per Departure International Cost Comparison, Various Years in Canadian Dollars

Country Average cost per high-risk return Base cost assisted return Reintegration assistance amounts Total cost assisted return Total cost of assisted return as % of average cost of high-risk
  Low end
(A)
High end
(B)
Low end High end Low end
(C)
High end (D) Low end
(C/A)
High end (D/B)
Belgium - - $2,175 $609 $1,914 $2,784 $4,089 - -
Canada $1,830 $16,727 $1,376 $500 $2,000 $1,876 $3,376 102.5% 20.2%
Germany - - $1,789 $424 $1,059 $2,213 $2,848 - -
Norway $15,113 $17,284 $2,258 $2,084 $7,643 $4,342 $9,901 28.7% 57.3%
Sweden $28,405 $1,175 $3,233 $6,367 $4,408 $7,542 15.5% 26.6%
United Kingdom $20,946 $24,169 $2,437 $2,417 $3,223 $4,854 $5,660 23.2% 23.4%

Source: Richard Black, Michael Collyer, Will Sommerville (2011), Pay-to-go Schemes and other Noncoercive returns programs: Is Scale Possible? p. 5. Only one cost for the high-risk return was found for Sweden. The data from the United Kingdom is from 2013. Source for reintegration amounts: United Kingdom Immigration Enforcement data. Source for UK returns: (https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/253981/28426_UK_average_costs_involved_in_detaining_each_illegal_immigrant.pdf) (Accessed May 7, 2014).

Note: 1. The average cost for the Pay to go plan does not include reintegration assistance. All costs have been adjusted for inflation to reflect 2013 costs. The European Commission Eurostat, Harmonized Indices of Consumer Prices was used for the calculations. (http://appsso.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/nui/show.do?dataset=prc_hicp_aind&lang=en) (Accessed April 28, 2014)

2. The costs were converted from Euros to Canadian dollars using the annual average of the exchange rate for the corresponding year from the Bank of Canada. (http://www.bankofcanada.ca/rates/exchange/10-year-converter/) (Accessed March 6, 2014)

3. The Canadian costs for escorted returns are based on the CBSA direct costs for escorted removals by land and air as estimated in 2012-2013.

Some figures were not available. They are denoted by a -.

The pilot program pays for more airfares compared to removals completed by Inland Enforcement.

The CBSA buys the plane tickets for 40% of the people being removed from Canada. The pilot program pays for almost all (92.0%) of the return tickets, just over half of which (51.0%) are airline liability cases. At an average cost of $950 per plane ticket, this represents about $1.3 million in extra costs.Footnote 52 The pilot program bears this cost because 1) the return is voluntary so the airline is not liable for the cost,Footnote 53 and 2) the CBSA respects the IOM's desire to have anonymous returns. The AVRR Framework expected that these costs would be recovered from the airlines but this has not occurred.Footnote 54

The application of the designated country of origin was not well understood when it came into effect which resulted in additional expenses and mixed messages.

When the DCO came into effect on December 15, 2012, it was not clear if it applied to refugee claims that were filed before December 15, 2012 but were decided after that date. The DCO status was not initially flagged in the immigration databases that the IRB manages. As a result, approximately 142 participants received an estimated $234,000 more than they would have been entitled to if their DCO status had been correctly identified.Footnote 55 The launch of the DCO was a significant policy change that was not clearly communicated to the potential pilot program participants and supporting community groups alike.

Almost a third of pilot program participants withdrew from the program before their departure from Canada which added to the pilot program’s administrative expenses.

The cost of participants who are referred to the pilot program and either do not enrol, or do not depart after enrolling was estimated using the Resource Allocation Models for the Inland Enforcement, CBSA AVRR Unit and IOM tasks that were completed.(Exhibit 9)

Exhibit 9: Estimated Administrative Cost of Withdrawals, June 2012 to March 2014

  Cost per case
Reason for withdrawal Number of cases Inland Enforcement interview CBSA AVRR Unit IOM Inland Enforcement re-interview Total cost per case Total cost for all cases
Failed to enrol 716 $97 $139 - $97 $332 $237,561
Withdrew after enrolling 642 $97 $139 $126 $97 $458 $294,162
Removed from pilot program for breach of conditions 26 $97 $139 $126 $97 $458 $11,913
Total 1,384 - - - - - $543,637

Source: Calculated using data from the March 2014 AVRR Monthly Progress Report and the Resource Allocation Model. A total of 4,701 failed refugee claimants were screened as eligible and interested as of March 2014. [(1,384/4,701)x100=29.4%].

Failed refugee claimants who are screened as eligible and interested but do not enrol, and those who enrol but later withdraw from the pilot program add an estimated half million dollars ($543,637) to operating costs.

Can the pilot program be replicated in other parts of the country?

From a regional perspective, the options of having one stream to focus on acquiring travel documents for difficult or criminal failed refugee claimants and another stream to focus on claimants who were still under a departure order were suggested.

Failed refugee inventories by region indicate that the GTA, Quebec and the Prairie regions were comprised of nationalities that have used the pilot program to date. Three regions (Pacific, Northern Ontario, Southern Ontario) have inventories that are difficult to remove and one (Atlantic) has very low numbers.Footnote 56 Of the working inventory, about half (50.1%) are in the GTA and about a third (30.1%) are in Quebec. Each region has a different mix of nationalities among the failed refugee claimants although each has some nationalities that have shown strong uptake in the GTA. Thus it is not clear that AVRR could be replicated in other parts of the country given the trends and volume in regards to refugee claims.

In light of these findings, and findings related to design and implementation of the pilot program, it is recommended that:

Recommendation 1: The Vice-President of the Programs Branch, in cooperation with the Vice-President of the Operations Branch, produce and implement lessons learned strategies that address short-term adjustments for the remainder of the pilot program.

5. Conclusion

The findings of this evaluation show that the pilot was implemented well even if it did not achieve its core objectives to remove failed refugee claimants in a more timely and cost-effective manner. Some of the planning assumptions that underpinned the pilot program proved not to be accurate. An unexpected success was the walk-in enrolment option. Although representing 19% of the screening interviews, participants who enrol via the walk-in option accounted for 42% of all departures. Moving forward, the pilot program needs to continue to collect data to support ongoing operations as well as the decision about whether to make AVRR a permanent program. This data is also important to support the horizontal evaluation to be conducted by Citizenship and Immigration Canada.

A more detailed discussion of the key findings, the recommendation, and management response and action plan resulting from this evaluation can be found in the Executive Summary.


Appendix A – Acronyms and Abbreviations

AVRR
Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration
BRRA
Balanced Refugee Reformed Act
CBSA
Canada Border Services Agency
CIC
Citizenship and Immigration
GTA
Greater Toronto Area
DCO
Designated Countries of Origin
IOM
International Organization for Migration
IRB
Immigration and Refugee Board
IRPA
Immigration and Refugee Protection Act
NHQ
National Headquarters
PCISA
Protecting Canada’s Immigration System Act
UNHCR
United Nations High Commission for Refugees

Appendix B – Program Overview

Under the refugee reform introduced by Balanced Refugee Reformed Act (BRRA) and Protecting Canada’s Immigration System Act (PCISA), the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) committed to facilitate the timely removal of failed refugee claimants within one year of a final negative refugee determination by the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB). The pilot program aimed to enrol 30% of eligible applicants in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) where the pilot operates.

The pilot program streamlined how the Agency handles low-risk removals, redirecting them towards a voluntary compliance model handled by a service partner. This model was expected to allow the Agency to focus its resources on higher-risk removals and provide the CBSA with additional resources to reduce its current inventory.

Pilot Program Summary

The pilot program was implemented exclusively in the GTA Footnote 57 starting in summer 2012 to March 31, 2015. The CBSA is responsible for determining participant eligibility and referring them to the International Organization for Migration (IOM) for processing. To deliver the pilot, the CBSA contracted the IOM as an independent service provider to expedite the removal of low-risk, failed refugee claimants. The IOM’s tasks are:

  • Facilitating removal travel arrangements, including securing flight tickets and travel documents;
  • Providing counselling to failed refugee claimants on their responsibilities and options for their removal – not to be confused with legal counselling, and;
  • Providing in-kind reintegration assistance in the country of return (e.g. help setting up a small business, job placement) to promote sustainable returns.

Program Benefits

The pilot program is expected to contribute to making removals more cost-effective and timely under the PCISA, as follows:

  • Reduced CBSA low-risk removals case load;
  • Increased compliance with removal orders;
  • Reduced number of Pre Removal Risk Assessments (PRRA) for low-risk, failed refugee claimants;
  • Reduced number of claimants appealing decisions;
  • Greater success obtaining travel documents;
  • Reduced cost of social benefits to failed refugee claimants;
  • Contribution to reduction of the CBSA’s removals backlog; and
  • Reduction of Federal Court, PRRA and/or Humanitarian and Compassionate Applications in the removals backlog.

While the number of individuals who waive their right to these recourse mechanisms or withdraw their applications as a result of AVRR participation is anticipated to be low, the cost savings for Citizenship and Immigration (CIC) in terms of processing is significant.

CBSA Stakeholders

Programs Branch
The CBSA’s National Headquarters (NHQ) maintains functional authority for the program while the pilot program operations are administered primarily through a dedicated AVRR Unit located at the Enforcement and Intelligence Operations Division in the Greater Toronto Area Region (EIOD- GTAR). The AVRR Unit reports to NHQ. The AVRR Unit at EIOD works closely with the IOM’s Canadian AVRR office, located close to EIOD office.

Operations Branch
The pilot program is delivered through the Operations Branch in the GTA.

Comptrollership Branch
The Comptrollership Branch provides corporate and operational leadership for the stewardship of the resources for the pilot program budget and Treasury Board requirements for sun-setting programs in relation to overall refugee reform. In addition, Corporate Accounting provides guidance on the payments made to the IOM.

Information, Science and Technology Branch
The Information, Science and Technology Branch provides support in developing and implementing key information management tools to collect and monitor key data elements.

Corporate Affairs Branch
The Corporate Affairs Branch provides ongoing communications advice for the AVRR file as well as advice on Access to Information and Privacy as needed.

Other Government Department Stakeholders

Citizenship and Immigration Canada is the policy lead on refugee reform as a whole, of which AVRR is one element. They were also responsible for providing a brochure starting June 29, 2012 (available in multiple languages) to all refugee claimants at the point of refugee claim intake via the Border Services Officer, Inland Enforcement Officer, or CIC Inland Officer.

Bi-lateral Partner

International Organization for Migration
The implementing partner for the AVRR is the IOM. Its responsibilities are divided between its Canadian office which assists participants before they leave Canada and its Mission offices which assist participants in their respective countries of return.

The IOM Toronto office is responsible for helping participants to develop a reintegration plan, schedule a date for their return, and purchase airline tickets. They ensure that participants make their flight and confirm they have boarded, and provide an escort at any flight transfer points to ensure that clients arrive at their final destination in the country of return. They also work with the CBSA AVRR Unit to ensure the smooth transfer of information, including notifying the CBSA about those clients who withdraw from the program or who do not maintain the program requirements, as well as provide monitoring data on IOM operations.

Appendix C – Program Logic Model

In consultation with key CBSA stakeholders, a logic model was developed, around which a project plan for the AVRR pilot program was drafted. The logic model presented is a visual representation that links what the Program does (activities) with what the Program produces (outputs) and what the Program intends to achieve (outcomes) (Exhibit C-1). It also was the basis for developing the evaluation framework, which provided a roadmap for conducting this evaluation.

Exhibit C-1: Assisted Voluntary Removal and Reintegration Pilot Program Logic Model

  • 1. Program mandate: Contributes to the reduction in the enforced removal of failed refugee claimants.
  • 2. Activities:
    • 2.1. Pilot Development
      • 2.1.1. Develop, monitor and oversee pilot program
      • 2.1.2. Develop and maintain relationship with the IOM
        • Outputs: AVRR pilot program launch (leads to activity 2.2)
    • 2.2. Project Delivery
      • 2.2.1. CBSA: Communicate with potential AVRR participants (leads to immediate outcomes 3.1, 3.2 and activities 2.2.3 and 2.3.1)
        • Outputs: AVRR Applicants (leads to activity 2.1.3)
      • 2.2.2. CBSA Assess & monitor eligibility
        • Outputs: Referrals to IOM (leads to activity 2.2.4 IOM: and immediate outcome 3.1)
      • 2.2.3. IOM Receive and process applications
        • Outputs: Pre-departure counselling
      • 2.2.4. IOM Plan reintegration assistance with AVRR participants
        • Outputs: Reintegration assistance plans
      • 2.2.5. IOM Make travel arrangements
        • Outputs: Travel itineraries, plane tickets, removal
      • 2.2.6. IOM Develop reports for CBSA
        • Outputs: Financial, statistical and monitoring reports
  • 3. Immediate outcomes:
    • 3.1. Timely departure of low-risk failed refugee claimants
    • 3.2. Cost-effective departure of failed refugee claimants
  • 4. Intermediate outcomes:
    • 4.1. AVRR removals are sustainable
  • 5. Ultimate outcome:
    • 5.1. Canada’s asylum determination system is fast, fair and free from abuse.
  • 6. Strategic Outcome:
    • 6.1. International trade and travel is facilitated across Canada’s border and Canada’s population is protected from border-related risks.

Appendix D – Evaluation Methodology

The evaluation collected both qualitative and quantitative data to address the evaluation issues using the multiple research methodologies that are described below.

Review of Documents

A review of documents was undertaken to confirm the relevance of the pilot program and to determine if the pilot is achieving the expected outcomes. Reviews also determined the extent to which program activities are aligned with and support priorities. This methodology, in conjunction with others, helped measure the extent to which the pilot program has been successful in achieving its stated outcomes which include: Provide incentives in support of the voluntary return of failed refugee claimants; contribute to an expedited removals strategy by reducing the need for escorted removals; contribute to backlog reduction efforts and that AVRR removals are sustainable. Documents included:

  • CBSA planning documents/reports, organizational charts, documents outlining roles and responsibilities, and relevant internal correspondence pertaining to the implementation and management of AVRR;
  • Documentation defining the CBSA priorities in relation to AVRR;
  • Legislation and other documents related to the legal/regulatory framework of removing failed refugee claimants;
  • Documented processes, procedures such as Standard Operating Procedures as well as service standards;
  • Correspondence, files, reports and data relating to AVRR outcomes;
  • Documents defining the Government of Canada and the CBSA priorities and requirements; and
  • Any other relevant documentation.

Literature Review

A literature review regarding the design, delivery and performance of similar programs in other countries was conducted for comparison purposes. United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) guidelines, frameworks and other relevant documents concerning refugees were also reviewed in order to provide a better understanding of the international context of these programs.

Analysis of Performance and Financial Data

An analysis of statistical and financial data was conducted to determine trends in the pilot program in order to assess the effectiveness and efficiency of program activities and identify possible areas for improvements.

  • The CBSA and IOM budget amounts (which includes the reintegration assistance, plane tickets) and expenditure data for AVRR activities (Salary and Operations & Maintenance);
  • CBSA Resource Allocation Model for Removals;
  • CBSA and IOM performance data to calculate the processing time from IRB decision date to departure date for AVRR and non-AVRR removals. The processing time was also analyzed by DCO and non-DCO status and by whether the refugee claim had been filed and decided before the refugee reform (December 15, 2012) (backlog), if it was filed before that date but decided after (transition) or filed and decided after (new system).

Key Stakeholder Interviews

Twelve individual and/or group interviews were conducted with key internal and external stakeholders to gather qualitative information on the relevance and performance of the pilot program. In addition, interviews were used to solicit views and explanations of data and results obtained through other methodologies. Interviewees included relevant stakeholders from the following areas:

  • Directors in HQ in the Programs Branch, Operations Branch and Corporate Affairs;
  • CBSA GTA management and staff involved in the delivery of the AVRR pilot;
  • Representatives from the IOM involved in delivering the AVRR; and
  • Representatives from non-governmental organizations that work with refugees.

Site Visits

Three site visits were completed for this evaluation. Two visits were conducted in the EIOD and the IOM Toronto office. The visits provided the opportunity to gain a solid understanding of how the AVRR pilot program is managed and delivered in the field and how regional personnel coordinate with key partners and headquarters. In addition, the site visits served to conduct interviews, validate data, enhance the understanding of the screening process, and how the CBSA and IOM roles and responsibilities are implemented. They also provided the regional staff and key stakeholders with the opportunity to identify and provide examples of what works well and what could be improved.

The evaluation team joined the CBSA AVRR Unit on a scheduled performance monitoring visit to Budapest, Hungary in October-November 2013. The visit included a review of financial and performance documents, group and individual interviews, and site visits.

Appendix E – AVRR Process Map

The flowchart shows two columns of three boxes next to each other. For both columns, the first box has an arrow pointing to the second box. The second box has an arrow pointing to the third box.

The three boxes on the left are titled ‘Inland Enforcement Screening’

First box: Conduct file review and background check

Second box: Conduct screening interview. Offer AVRR, if eligible. If interested refer to AVRR Unit.

Third box: AVRR Unit reviews the file. If eligible and interested, refer to IOM

The three boxes on the right are titled ‘Walk-ins via the AVRR Unit’

First box: Conduct screening interview.

Second box: Create file. Conduct background check (e.g. to verify non-criminality).

Third box: If eligible and interested, refer to IOM.

Footnotes

Footnote 1

The Designated Country of Origin status is applied to countries that do not normally produce refugees and the state respects human rights. The DCO status came into force December 15, 2012. All countries that are not on the DCO list are considered non-DCO countries. Source: Citizenship and Immigration Canada, (2013), Backgrounder — Summary of Changes to Canada’s Asylum System, (http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/department/media/backgrounders/2012/2012-11-30c.asp) (Accessed April 10, 2014).

Return to footnote 1 referrer

Footnote 2

Source: Canada Border Services Agency, (2013), Audit of the Refugee Reform Initiative, (http://www.cbsa-asfc.gc.ca/agency-agence/reports-rapports/ae-ve/2013/rri-irsoa-eng.html#a1) (Accessed April 10, 2014).

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Footnote 3

Source: Government of Canada, (2010), Balanced Refugee Reform Act, (http://laws.justice.gc.ca/eng/annualstatutes/2010_8/fulltext.html) (Accessed April 4, 2014).

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Footnote 4

Source: Government of Canada, (2012), Protecting Canada’s Immigration System Act, (http://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/annualstatutes/2012_17/page-1.html) (Accessed April 4, 2014).

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Footnote 5

Source: Citizenship and Immigration, (2013),Pre-removal risk assessment – Refugee claims in Canada
(http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/refugees/inside/prra.asp) (Accessed April 10, 2014).

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Footnote 6

Source: Canada Border Services Agency, (2012), Detailed list of AVRR eligible locations in the GTA. (Accessed December 10, 2013).

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Footnote 7

The support is provided by the local IOM office Where the IOM does not have an office, it makes an arrangement with a local non-governmental organization to disperse the funds.

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Footnote 8

Source: Canada Border Services Agency, (2013), About the AVRR pilot program, (http://www.cbsa-asfc.gc.ca/prog/avrr-arvr/menu-eng.html) (Accessed April 11, 2014).

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Footnote 9

Source: Treasury Board Secretariat, Treasury Board Policy Suite (http://www.tbs-sct.gc.ca/pol/doc-eng.aspx?id=15024) (Accessed April 11, 2014).

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Footnote 10

Source: Government of Canada, (2013), Speech from the Throne to open the Second Session Forty First Parliament of Canada, (http://www.parl.gc.ca/Parlinfo/Documents/ThroneSpeech/41-2-e.html) (Accessed April 2, 2014).

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Footnote 11

Source: Canada Border Services Agency, (2013), Acts, Regulations and Other Regulatory Information, (http://www.cbsa-asfc.gc.ca/agency-agence/actreg-loireg/legislation-eng.html) (Accessed April 2, 2014).

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Footnote 12

Source: Canada Border Services Agency, (2011), Delegation: Designation and Delegation by the minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations

(http://www.cbsa-asfc.gc.ca/agency-agence/actreg-loireg/delegation/irpa-lipr-2011-03-eng.html#a6) (Accessed March 24, 2014).

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Footnote 13

Source: Citizenship and Immigration, (2013) Backgrounder — Summary of Changes to Canada’s Refugee System in the Protecting Canada’s Immigration System Act, (http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/department/media/backgrounders/2012/2012-02-16f.asp) (Accessed March 10, 2014).

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Footnote 14

Source: Canada Border Services Agency, (2013), Refugee Reform Initiative Improving Canada’s asylum system, (Accessed March 10, 2014).

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Footnote 15

Calculated as follows: [(Inland Enforcement hours (20.9) less AVRR hours (10.5)) x (number of AVRR departures as of March 2014 (3,143))].

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Footnote 16

Data from Citizenship and Immigration as reported internationally. Source: United Nations High Commission for Refugees, (2013), UNHCR Asylum Trends 2012. p. 22.

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Footnote 17

Historically, about half of the refugees in the CBSA Removal Working Inventory reside in the Greater Toronto Area.

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Footnote 18

Source: Richard Black, Michael Collyer, Will Sommerville (2011), Pay-to-go Schemes and other Non-coercive returns programs: Is Scale Possible? p. 5. Only one cost for the high-risk return was found for Sweden and the UK. p. 1.

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Footnote 19

Source: United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Policy Development and Evaluation Service (PDES), (2013), Difficult decisions A review of UNHCR’s engagement with Assisted Voluntary Return programmes. p. 12. (http://www.unhcr.org/51f924209.html) (Accessed March 31, 2014).

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Footnote 20

Source: United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Policy Development and Evaluation Service (PDES), (2013), Difficult decisions A review of UNHCR’s engagement with Assisted Voluntary Return programmes. (http://www.unhcr.org/51f924209.html) (Accessed March 31, 2014).

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Footnote 21

Source: United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, (2007), Refugee Protection and Mixed Migration:
A 10-Point Plan of Action, (http://www.unhcr.org/4742a30b4.html) (Accessed March 31, 2014).

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Footnote 22

Source: United Nations Population Fund, Linking Population, Poverty and Development, (http://www.unfpa.org/pds/migration.html) (Accessed April 11, 2014).

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Footnote 23

Source: World Bank, (2014), World Bank, (2014), World Data Bank, World Development Indicators, (http://databank.worldbank.org/data/views/reports/tableview.aspx) (Accessed April 11. 2014).

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Footnote 24

Source: Canada Border Services Agency, (2012), Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration Pilot Program Framework.

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Footnote 25

Calculated as follows: [(Total AVRR Departures (3,143))/(Total Eligible and Interested (4,876)) + (Total Eligible and Not Interested (2,499))] Source: AVRR Monthly Progress Reports, March 2014.

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Footnote 26

Source: Canada Border Services Agency, (2013), Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration Pilot Program, (http://www.cbsa-asfc.gc.ca/prog/avrr-arvr/menu-eng.html) (Accessed March 14, 2014).

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Footnote 27

In actuality, 257 clients applied for Pre-removal Risk Assessment while in the program and 102 have re-entered after a negative decision. The calculations are based on the number of failed refugee claimants referred to the IOM as of March 2014 (4,701).

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Footnote 28

In comparison, the Belgium voluntary return program reported that 22% of the participants in their program failed to show at the airport. Source: IOM, (2011), 2011 Annual Report, REAB, (http://avrr.belgium.iom.int/images/stories/REAB_AnnualReport_2011_FINAL_low%20resolution.pdf) p. 38 (Accessed March 27, 2014).

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Footnote 29

A total of 509 travel documents were obtained as of December 2013. There were a total of 2,736 departures.

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Footnote 30

A total of 194 Canadian-born children of failed refugee claimants were returned with their parents.

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Footnote 31

Source: European Migration Network, (2011), Programmes and Strategies in the EU Member States fostering Assisted Return to and Reintegration in Third Countries. p. 85.

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Footnote 32

The International Organization for Migration conducted 91 outreach sessions (35 individual meetings and 56 group meetings) with over 90 organizations. Source: International Organization for Migration, (2014), Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration Pilot Programme, Greater Toronto Area, Canada Mid-term review, 29-31 January 2014 Toronto, Canada, p. 38-40.

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Footnote 33

The CIC website has information on the pilot program under refugee reform (http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/refugees/reform-avr.asp) (Accessed May 9, 2014). However, information about the pilot program is not included under Options for refused refugee claimants. (http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/refugees/inside/refusals.asp) (Accessed May 14, 2014)

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Footnote 34

A departure order automatically becomes a deportation order 30 days after the order becomes enforceable. A higher percentage of pilot program participants (198 or 7.8%) left on a departure order than non-AVRR departures (202 or 4.7%). Source: Canada Border Services Agency, (2013), Fact Sheet – Removals, (Accessed April 1, 2014).

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Footnote 35

Source: European Migration Network, (2011), Programmes and Strategies in the EU Member States fostering Assisted Return to and Reintegration in Third Countries. p. 85.

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Footnote 36

The refugee reform also included service standards designed to shorten the claim to decision time. Source: Canada Border Services Agency, (2013) Refugee Reform Initiative, (Accessed April 10, 2014).

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Footnote 37

Source: Susan Banki, Ilan Katz, (2009), Resolving Immigration Status, Part 2: Comparative Case Studies, Australian Department of Immigration and Citizenship, November, 2009 (http://www.immi.gov.au/media/publications/pdf/unsw-report-2.pdf) (Accessed March 31, 2014).

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Footnote 38

The Designated Country of Origin status is applied to countries that do not normally produce refugees and the state respects human rights. The DCO status came into force December 15, 2012. All countries that are not on the DCO list are considered non-DCO countries. Source: Citizenship and Immigration Canada, (2013), Backgrounder — Summary of Changes to Canada’s Asylum System, (http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/department/media/backgrounders/2012/2012-11-30c.asp) (Accessed April 10, 2014).

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Footnote 39

There were only walk-ins for new system cases because the IRB decisions on claims filed after December 15, 2012 are only being made now and there is a delay between the IRB decision and when the case enters the CBSA removals inventory.

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Footnote 40

Depending on the specific case, failed refugees may have access to one or more of the following appeal options: Pre-removal risk assessment (PRRA), Refugee Appeal Division, Federal Court, Humanitarian and Compassionate Grounds (H&C). Source: Citizenship and Immigration Canada, (2012), Refugee Claims in Canada – Options for refused applicants. (http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/refugees/inside/refusals.asp) (Accessed April 7, 2014).

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Footnote 41

Non-DCO AVRR participants receive $2,000 (no appeal), $1,500 (one appeal) or $1,000 (2 appeals) in reintegration assistance. DCO nationals receive up to $500 and additional members of the family receive $200 per person to a maximum of $1,500 per family immediately prior to departure from Canada. Source: Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration Pilot Program, http://www.cbsa-asfc.gc.ca/prog/avrr-arvr/menu-eng.html (Accessed February 10, 2014).

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Footnote 42

Average reintegration assistance was $1,426 plus $168 per departure in service fees to International Organization for Migration local offices.

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Footnote 43

Source: IOM, (2014), Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration Pilot Programme , Greater Toronto Area, Canada Mid-term review, 29-31 January 2014 Toronto, Canada, p. 25. All of these options are allowed in the AVRR Framework.

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Footnote 44

Source: International Organization for Migration , (2013), Interim Report to Canada Border Service Agency Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration Pilot Programme, Greater Toronto Area, September-December. p. 12.

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Footnote 45

The NHQ salary and non-salary costs include both the AVRR teams in Toronto and Ottawa. It does not include the Inland Enforcement costs for screening failed refugee claimants for AVRR eligibility.

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Footnote 46

The total cost per departure was calculated as follows: FY 2012-2013: $6,000,000/1,602=$3,745. FY 2013-2014: $9,585,000/1,541=$6,220. FY 2012-2014: $15,585,000/2,981=$4,959.

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Footnote 47

Source: Canada Border Services Agency, (2012), AVRR Pilot Program Framework, p. 31.

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Footnote 48

Source: Canada Border Services Agency, (2013), Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration Pilot Program, (http://www.cbsa-asfc.gc.ca/prog/avrr-arvr/menu-eng.html) (Accessed March 14, 2014).

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Footnote 49

Source: Canada Border Services Agency (2012) Fact Sheet: Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration Pilot Program, (Accessed March 14, 2014).

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Footnote 50

One of the United Kingdom’s three voluntary return programs is open to those who have been detained for immigration reasons. Source: United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Policy Development and Evaluation Service (PDES), (2013), Difficult decisions A review of UNHCR’s engagement with Assisted Voluntary Return programmes. p. 7.

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Footnote 51

Source: European Commission: (2013), Return Fund. (http://ec.europa.eu/dgs/home-affairs/financing/fundings/migration-asylum-borders/return-fund/index_en.htm) (Accessed March 27, 2014).

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Footnote 52

There were 1,397 AVRR departures flagged as airline liability in the dataset. The estimates were calculated as follows: For the percentage of airline liability as of December 2013: (Airline liability cases (1,397)/ Total departures (2,736)x100=51.0%). For the estimated airfare cost: $950x1,397=$1,327,150.

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Footnote 53

Some countries have suggested that voluntary return programs need a different name to reflect the mandatory nature of the removal order, for example ‘Assisted Return and Reintegration’. Source: Intergovernmental Consultations on Migration, Asylum and Refugees, (2013), Request for Information: Terminology Used for Assisted Return. p. 2.

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Footnote 54

Source: Canada Border Services Agency, (2012), Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration Pilot Program Framework. p. 23.

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Footnote 55

Estimated calculation as follows: [(Sum of reintegration assistance based on recourse levels used: $278,000) less (Sum of DCO reintegration assistance: $43,700) = $234,000].

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Footnote 56

Source: Canada Border Services Agency, (2013), Removal Inventories and projected Inventories by Region and Citizenship.

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Footnote 57

Source: Canada Border Services Agency, (2012), Detailed list of AVRR eligible locations in the GTA. (Accessed December 10, 2013).

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