Program investments and initiatives
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In this section
Removals Strategy for fiscal year 2018 to 2019
- In the fall of 2018, to complement key performance indicators for the program, the CBSA set an internal goal of accomplishing 10,000 removals for the 2018-2019 fiscal year in order to demonstrate the Government of Canada’s commitment to timely removals by increasing the number of removals from previous fiscal years.
- A National Removals Strategy Taskforce, including both CBSA headquarters and the regions, was established in the 2018-19 fiscal year and implemented a number of measures to mitigate challenges as well as increase efficiencies to support timely removals.
- As a result of enhanced removal efforts initiated in the 2018-19 fiscal year, the CBSA:
- removed 79% of its serious inadmissibility and criminality cases from the actionable inventory
- examined 100% of the 2,368 removal orders for those persons that fell within the failed irregular migrant category
- enforced just under 9,700 removals, which represented a five-year high in total removals, and a 18% increase in total removals from the 2017-2018 fiscal year
- As a result of the 2018-2019 Removals Strategy, the CBSA identified and implemented efficiencies and best practices that continue to influence our removals program including the use of Enforcement Case Officers across the country, and maintaining weekly calls between HQ and the regions to facilitate improved cooperation and communication.
Questions and answers:
Q: You mention that the National Removals Strategy Taskforce implemented a number of measures to mitigate challenges and increase efficiencies to support timely removals. Can you give examples of such measures?
A wide range of initiatives, including surge capacity staffing, increased hours of operation and blitzes, contributed to the Agency’s strategic efforts.
From October 2018 to March 2019, the CBSA’s removal program significantly increased the number of officers dedicated to removal activities. Additional resources were allocated to the highest volume regions, allowing the Agency to increase hours of operation, introduce blitzes and provide the opportunity to examine data integrity issues.
With the increased hours of operation, the regions were able to intensify their removal outputs through pre-removal risk assessment (PRRA) blitzes, removal scheduling blitzes, road team investigations and data integrity reviews.
The regions also increased the number of unarmed Enforcement Case Officers. These officers conducted various interviews with low risk foreign nationals, allowing our Inland Enforcement Officers to focus on road investigations, which created significant efficiencies in the removals process.
Q: What did you do to address data integrity issues in 2018-2019?
Data integrity and inventory management were a priority for the National Removals Strategy Taskforce. The regions were asked to conduct monthly reviews of their actionable and working inventories to ensure cases were being properly identified and triaged.
These reviews increased the Agency’s ability to action and report on removals. In addition, as data integrity issues were identified, focused training aids were developed to ensure national consistency and sustainability in data input.
Q: Can you explain further some of the best practices and efficiencies that were identified and how they have helped the Agency thus far?
One of the goals of the National Removals Strategy Taskforce was to increase engagement at the Director and Assistant Director levels, which continues today through weekly national teleconferences as well as in-person meetings. This engagement has contributed to successful collaboration and support between the regions.
In addition, the regions continue to conduct overtime blitzes as well as use the Enforcement Case Officer.
Data integrity / inventory management continues to be a priority. This fiscal year, the Agency created a new Data Integrity Officer classification and job description so that regions may now specifically dedicate regional resources to conducting this function.
Lastly, the Agency continues to use available exit data collected on persons leaving Canada to triage cases so that regional resources are not expended on interviewing and investigating persons who are no longer in Canada.
In the fall of 2018, the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) announced an ambitious performance objective of 10,000 removals in order to meet the Government of Canada’s commitment to timely removals. As such, a National Removals Strategy Taskforce was created in October 2018 that worked in collaboration with the CBSA regions on the implementation of a number of measure to mitigate challenges and increase efficiencies to support timely removals.
From October 2018 to March 2019, the removals program significantly increased the number of officers dedicated to removal activities. Over 100 resources were allocated to the regions with high volume removal-related activities. This allowed the Agency to increase hours of operation, introduce blitzes and provide the regions with the opportunity to examine data integrity-related issues.
With the increased hours of operation, the regions were able to intensify their removal outputs through pre-removal risk assessment (PRRA) initiation and delivery blitzes, removal scheduling blitzes, road team investigation blitzes and data integrity reviews. Due to the increased efforts by our officers during these blitzes, the CBSA increased the number of arrests as part of our increased investigations, conducted more removal interviews and prioritized PRRA cases. In order to optimize the level of success in these endeavours, the CBSA also worked with Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada to coordination PRRA processing as well as the Immigration and Refugee Board in prioritizing the hearings of cases where, for example, the person was detained, or their travel document for removal was close to expiry.
The CBSA regions also increased the number of unarmed FB01 Enforcement Case Officers. These officers conducted various interviews with low risk foreign nationals, allowing FB03 Enforcement Officers to focus on road investigations and actual removal, which created significant efficiencies in the removals process.
Data integrity and inventory management issues were prioritized by the National Removals Strategy Taskforce in collaboration with regional subject matter experts. The regions were asked to conduct monthly reviews of their actionable and working inventories to ensure cases were being properly identified and triaged.
In addition, regular quality assurance / inventory management reviews were performed at the national level. The Agency conducted reviews on various inventories, including cases that were under an Administrative Deferral of Removal or a Temporary Suspension of Removal, or failed irregular migrants, and utilized entry-exit data for cases believed to be outside of Canada. The results of these reviews were then provided to the CBSA regions for further prioritization.
These data integrity exercises increased the Agency’s ability to action and accurately report on removals. In addition, as data integrity issues were identified, focused training aids were developed to ensure national consistency and sustainability in data input.
As a result of these increased efforts, the CBSA conducted just under 9,700 removals by the end of fiscal year 2018 to 2019. The CBSA accomplished 97% of its 2018 to 2019 removal performance objective, which was the highest number of removals in a fiscal year since 2014 to 2015, when the CBSA carried out just under 12,000 removals.
The CBSA’s removal priorities remained focused on the removal of criminals; however, the Agency added failed irregular migrants to the Tier 1 removal priority. In fiscal year 2018 to 2019, the CBSA removed 92% of the serious inadmissibility and criminality cases in the actionable inventory. In addition, the Agency examined 100% of the failed irregular migrant inventory.
Relevant data / statistics:
CBSA prioritizes removals using a risk based approach:
- Priority 1: Cases involving security, organized crime, human rights violations and criminality; failed irregular migrant refugee claimants (due to their impact on program integrity and Canada’s asylum system)
- Priority 2: Failed refugee claimants
- Priority 3: All other inadmissible persons
|Period||Total||Priority 1||Priority 2||Priority 3|
|Serious inadmissibility||Irregular migrant failed refugee||Refugee claimants||Other inadmissibilities|
|2014/2015||11,932||1,200||Information not available||6,703||4,029|
The breakdown of additional resources for the larger regions included:
- Quebec Region @ 31 FTEs
- Greater Toronto Area Region @ 69 FTEs (including short term actings)
- Prairie Region @ 9 FTEs
Within the 2018 to 2019 failed irregular migrant category, 100% of the just under 2,400 cases were individually screened and coded. By the end of the fiscal year, this resulted in:
- 525 actionable inventory cases
- 1,118 working inventory cases
- 278 stay inventory cases
- 147 wanted cases
- 436 cases being removed
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada rendered 600 pre-removal risk assessment decisions between January 1 and March 1, 2019. This included 165 priority cases identified by the CBSA. All of the cases were noted as having the travel document on file in Global Case Management System and were removal ready.
The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), has a legal obligation to remove, as soon as possible, any foreign national who is inadmissible to Canada and has an enforceable removal order.
During the 2018 to 2019 fiscal year (FY), the Agency achieved its highest number of removals in four years with 9,695. This achievement represented an 18% increase from the 8,211 removals in the 2017 to 2018 fiscal year.
By the end of March 31,2020, the Agency has surpassed this total with 11,527 enforced removals in fiscal year 2019 to 2020. This accomplishment was driven by enhanced cooperation between national headquarters and regional operations, with a focus on removal priorities.
The CBSA continues to prioritize removals of persons inadmissible to Canada on national security, organized crime, human rights violations and criminality concerns.
The CBSA committed to removing 80% of its actionable inventory of those inadmissible on safety and security grounds and surpassed this objective by reaching 93%. This performance objective can be found in the Agency’s Departmental Plan Report.
Building on this momentum, the CBSA will continue to refine its strategy to increase timely removals, while continued focus will be placed on serious inadmissibility cases.
Questions and answers:
Q: Will CBSA achieve its overall target this Fiscal Year.
For fiscal year 2019-2020, the CBSA set an internal performance objective of 12,552
removals. The Agency achieved 92% by enforcing 11,527 removals.
Q: The overall target is not specific to criminal cases. Does CBSA prioritize
criminal cases over other inadmissibilities?
Yes. To support the Government of Canada’s safety and security priorities, the CBSA
places the highest priority on cases involving national security, organized crime, crimes
against humanity and criminals.
Q: Does CBSA have performance objectives specific to criminals?
Yes. The performance objective related to cases inadmissible on safety and security
grounds can be found in the Agency’s Departmental Plan Report (DPR).
Q: What are the targets for criminal cases?
For fiscal year 2019 to 2020, the Agency committed to removing 80% of its actionable
inventory of those cases inadmissible on safety and security grounds. The CBSA
surpassed this objective enforcing 93% of its actionable inventory.
The CBSA is mandated to remove individuals subject to an enforceable removal order as soon as possible. In order to evaluate the Removal Program’s performance and to ensure that cases are processed based on defined priorities, the agency employs performance objectives to monitor activities against expected outcomes.
By quantifying program expectations, the Agency is able to monitor progress being made towards accomplishing program objectives and adjust operational delivery, if required, to improve program results. The program delivery is closely monitored through performance objectives outlined in the Agency’s Departmental Plan report, and through defined internal expected outcomes developed to achieve results.
Departmental Plan Report
To support the Government of Canada priorities, the Removals Program performance objectives outlined in the Agency’s Departmental Plan Report (DPR) have maintained the same focus over the past several years, with an emphasis on removing cases inadmissible on safety and security grounds. The main objective has been to remove 100% of safety or security cases in the removal working inventory. This performance is measured by the number of serious inadmissibility cases removed against the remaining actionable cases in the removal working inventory at the end of the fiscal year. The CBSA’s results over the past several years averages approximately 80% as the remaining cohort includes cases where the removal order had just become enforceable and/or cases where impediments to removal were recently resolved, thus not allowing sufficient time to enforce removal prior to fiscal year end.
From fiscal year 2014 to 2015 to 2017 to 2018, CBSA’s DPR also included an objective of removing 80% of failed refugee claimants within 12 months of their last refugee determination to evaluate CBSA’s commitment under the new Asylum reforms. CBSA’s results fell short with an average of 48% during this three year period. Impediments to removal such as a lack travel documents, uncooperative individuals, and longer than expected federal court timelines that, prevented the CBSA from achieving its expected outcome.
In fiscal year 2019 to 2020, the DPR outlined the CBSA objective of removing 80% of its actionable inventory of those inadmissible on safety and security grounds. The CBSA surpassed this objective enforcing 93% of its actionable inventory. Other objectives are outlined in the table below.
Internal expected outcomes
To complement the performance objectives outlined in the DPR, Internal performance objectives were introduced for the first time in fiscal year 2013 to 2014. The Agency achieved 82% of the 17,075 overall fiscal expected outcome, with 14,076 enforced removals, and surpassed its criminal objective of 1,944 by undertaking 2,035 criminal removals (100%). The Assisted Voluntary Returns and Repatriation pilot (AVRR) target of 2,719 removals was missed with a total of 1,541 (57%) removals.
Taking into consideration the complexity level of cases entering the removal inventory, the program adopted an expected outcome range for fiscal year 2014 to 2015 to accommodate challenges that require the assistance of other agencies and governments, such as the lack of travel documents. The CBSA aimed to enforce between 11,280 to 13,035 removals, which included 1,542 to 2,004 criminal removals. The AVRR objective was set at 1,039. This approach helped shape more accurate and more helpful projections as the Agency achieved its expected outcome with 11,932 total removals and 1,813 criminal removals. The CBSA removed 807 individuals under the AVRR program.
In fiscal year 2015 to 2016, the Agency aimed to remove 10,272 foreign nationals, which included a 1,809 objective for removals related to criminality. The Agency achieved 8,671 (84%) of its overall expected outcome and 1,377 (76%) criminal removals. In fiscal year 2016 to 2017, removal projections were deferred to allow the CBSA to implement a wide range of initiatives including moving to a more strategic approach to increase enforcement productivity. In fiscal year 2018 to 2019, internal removal projection resumed with expected outcome of 10,000 removals. The Agency enforced 9,695 (97%) removals last fiscal year.
For fiscal year 2019 to 2020 the CBSA has an overall performance objective of 12,552 removals. This internal expected outcome was a 26% increase from the 10,000 objective last fiscal year. The CBSA achieved 92% with 11,527 enforced removals. The CBSA also committed to removing 4,692 failed refugee claimants and has surpassed this total with 6,860 (100%) enforced failed refugee removals. This sub objective is reported in the Asylum Performance Management Framework.
The CBSA will continue to concentrate its efforts to remove individuals as quickly as possible with a primary focus on criminals, including cases involving national security, organized crime, human rights violations and failed refugees claimants. Future performance objectives will continue to support these priorities.
Relevant data / statistics:
|Fiscal Years||Performance objectives||Reported document||Target||Results|
|2013-2014||Average number of days to facilitate a removal from Canada||DPR||850||832|
|- Criminal removals||Internal||1,940||2,024|
|2014-2015||Percentage of high-priority foreign nationals removed from Canada compared to the high-priority population in the removals inventory||DPR||100||111|
|Percentage of failed refugee claimants removed from Canada within 12 months of a negative decision from the Refugee Protection Division or Refugee Appeal Division||DPR||80%||51%|
|2015-2016||Percentage of high priority foreign nationals removed from Canada compared to the high priority population in the removals inventory (based on annual average)||DPR||100%||83%|
|Percentage of failed refugee claimants removed from Canada within 12 months of a negative decision under the new system from the Refugee Protection Division or Refugee Appeal Division||DPR||80%||47%|
|- Criminal removals||Internal||1,809||1,378|
|2016-2017||Percentage of high priority foreign nationals removed from Canada compared to the high priority population in the removals inventory Based on annual average||DPR||100%||79%|
|2017-2018||Percentage of high priority foreign nationals removed from Canada compared to the high priority population in the removals inventory (based on annual average).||DPR||100%||69%|
|Percentage of failed refugee claimants removed from Canada within 12 months of a negative decision under the new system from the Refugee Protection Division or Refugee Appeal Division).||DPR||80%||47%|
|2018-2019||Percentage of high-priority foreign nationals removed (i.e., on grounds of serious inadmissibility such as criminality, war crimes, security)||DPR||100%||79%|
|Number of persons subject to removal who voluntarily comply with their departure order||DPR||1,000||2,023|
|Median number of days to enforce a removal order from Canada||DPR||365||146|
|2019-2020||Number of persons subject to removal who voluntarily comply with their departure order||DPR||1,000||1,995|
|Percentage of high priority foreign nationals removed (i.e., on grounds of serious inadmissibility such as criminality, war crimes, security)||DPR||80%||93%|
|Median number of days to enforce a removal order from Canada||DPR||365||336|
|- Asylum seekers||Internal||4,692||6,860|
The lack of cooperation by foreign governments in issuing the travel documents required in a timely manner is one of the greatest impediments to the CBSA’s ability to remove foreign nationals who are no longer eligible to stay in Canada.
In addition, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and its related travel restrictions and border measures have negatively impacted the government of Canada’s ability to conduct the majority of removals and to pursue bilateral engagements with its countries of interest.
Through Budget 2019 the Agency received $382 million over five years to enhance the integrity of Canada’s Borders and Asylum System. We allocated 36.11 million over five years, with $6.9 million of ongoing funding, to implement the International Engagement Strategy.
The pan-governmental Strategy aims to collaborate with countries that have been deemed uncooperative or recalcitrant in facilitating removals of its citizens through the improvement of bilateral relations. The end goal is to secure needed travel documents to support removal efforts.
The Strategy operates under a whole-of-government approach, supported by Global Affairs, Public Safety, and Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), working to develop customized and flexible engagements with uncooperative countries to enhance the timely issuance of travel documents.
The CBSA also works with likeminded partners such as the B5 to identify, share and implement best practices to address challenges to overcome systemic barriers to removals.
Questions and answers:
Q: What is the objective of the International Engagement Strategy for countries that are uncooperative / recalcitrant on removals?
CBSA is leading a whole-of-government approach, in collaboration with GAC, IRCC and PS, to encourage countries that are uncooperative, or recalcitrant in removals, to support the timely removal and return of their nationals from Canada, reduce the strain on Canada’s asylum system, and contribute to the Government of Canada’s security and public safety priorities.
Q: What makes a country uncooperative / recalcitrant on removals?
Despite international obligations to accept the return of nationals from foreign countries, a number of countries have laws, policies or practices that prevent the CBSA from completing removals in a timely manner. The intent of the whole-of-government strategy is to improve relationships and support the more timely removal of those no longer eligible to stay in Canada.
Q: Have you disclosed to uncooperative / removal-recalcitrant countries that they are a country that the Government of Canada is seeking greater cooperation on removals? Would you do so publically?
Canada has expressed concerns regarding the timely issuance of travel documents and interest for cooperation with regards to removals as part of normal operations. Due to the lack of diplomatic benefit and to protect the bilateral relationship, the countries will not be named publicly, except in cases of extreme uncooperativeness and unresponsiveness to Canada’s efforts to resolve the issue in a more collaborative manner.
Q: How are countries selected for engagement under the International Engagement Strategy?
A methodology has been developed to determine with which counties to engage. Parameters such as asylum claims, removal inventory statistics, travel document impediments, geopolitical considerations as well as an assessment of Canada’s bilateral relationship are all considered by an interdepartmental ADM committee.
Q: What is the funding allocated to Recalcitrant Countries, and how much has been spent?
CBSA received $382 million over five years through Budget 2019, of which International Engagement Strategy, of which recalcitrant countries comprise a significant component, was allocated $36.11 million over five years, with $6.9 million of ongoing funding. It must be noted that this amount is only a small fraction of the overall funding allocated across the federal government, as Government of Canada takes a government-wide approach to tackle this issue.
CBSA is unable to provide a figure on how much has been spent by the Government of Canada as a whole on the recalcitrant countries file. GAC, IRCC, PS and CBSA each manage their own respective budgets, and funding for initiatives implemented by the Working Group are provided by whichever department is leading that particular project.
Q: What has been the engagement to date with the targeted countries?
Ongoing senior level and working level engagement with High Commissions and embassies in Canada and with key officials in-country is essential in obtaining travel documents to secure removals. More than 300 engagements at various levels have been conducted with officials from various foreign affairs, border management and immigration departments and agencies from these specific countries from July 2019 to the present.
Scoping missions have also been conducted with the objective to identify potential capacity building activities that Canada could undertake in support of migration and border management and Liaison Officers are scheduled to be deployed to key regions to support the strategy.
Q: What are the objectives of the CBSA when engaging with countries that are uncooperative / recalcitrant on removals?
The objectives of this whole-of-government engagement strategies are to:
- Coordinate efforts to encourage the uncooperative country to issue travel documents, thereby supporting their commitment to the timely removal and return of their nationals from Canada
- Enhance uncooperative country’s consular and in-country officials’ awareness of Canada’s removals process
- Establish time standards to receive travel documents for foreign nations awaiting removal
- Issuance of travel documents in a timely manner (within 30 days) for foreign nationals who are subject to enforceable removal orders
Q: What progress has been achieved thus? What specific countries are involved?
CBSA cannot share the details of progress achieved as doing so would identify the countries the Working Group is targeting as being recalcitrant in removals. Releasing this information would have significant negative impacts on Canada’s bilateral relations with these countries, thereby reducing the possibility of obtaining positive engagement outcomes moving forward. This information could be shared only in-camera.
What we can share is that as of March 2020, prior to the travel restrictions and border shutdowns as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, all of the Working Group’s engagement plans were on track and had met the targets established by the timeline of the plans’ implementation. This included over 300 distinct engagements at various levels, from working level to senior/executive level and Ministerial, since July 2019.
Q: How has the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic affected the CBSA’s work with countries that are uncooperative / recalcitrant on removals?
Due to pandemic-related travel restrictions and border measures, the majority of removals of foreign nationals was paused as of March 2020, with the exception of criminal and voluntary removals. Any in-person collaboration with countries of interest were cancelled or postponed, including additional scoping missions and high-level visits.
CBSA continues to pursue objectives established under the International Engagement Strategy by conducting virtual diplomatic outreaches, engaging senior representatives of target countries in Canada, and leveraging its staff at Missions. Additionally, two pilot projects have been developed to target countries that demonstrate possibility of engaging on border management and removals-related issues with Canada in spite of COVID-19.
Budget 2019 mandated the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness to lead the new Border Enforcement Strategy (BES) with the support of the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship (IRCC) to develop a flexible set of strategies for dealing with the changing dynamics of irregular migration.
As part of the BES, Budget 2019 provided funding for the Agency of $382 million over five year to enhance the integrity of Canada’s Borders and Asylum System. The CBSA allocated 36.11 million over five years, with $6.9 million of ongoing funding, to implement the International Engagement Strategy. This strategy operates under a whole-of-government approach supported by Global Affairs (GAC), Public Safety (PS) and IRCC to support the timely removal of foreign nationals who are inadmissible to remain in Canada. CBSA also strives to work with likeminded partners such as the Five Eyes network to identify, share and implement best practices to address challenges created by countries deemed uncooperative, or recalcitrant on removals.
Using methodology including qualitative and quantitative criteria, a number of uncooperative / removals-recalcitrant countries have been evaluated for customized and flexible engagement initiated in 2019-20. [Redacted]
- More than 300 engagements have been conducted with officials from various foreign affairs, border management and immigration departments and agencies from these specific countries.
The CBSA continues to work with partners and monitor progress on the issuance of travel documents for the purpose of removals to uncooperative / removals-recalcitrant countries. The BES component will be monitored to track progress of engagement with each uncooperative country identified, and enforce escalation measures if needed.
As part of the Beyond the Border Action Plan, Canada and the United States (U.S.) committed to establishing a coordinated entry and exit system through an exchange of information at the shared land border so that one country’s entry records could serve as the other country’s record of exit.
Biographic entry information is routinely collected directly from all travellers entering Canada upon presentation to a Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) officer at a port of entry as part of the primary inspection process.
Canada also receives biographic entry information from the U.S. on all travellers who enter the U.S. through a land border crossing from Canada.
The exchange of data with the U.S. was implemented in phases:
- Phase 1: 2013. Systematic exchange of information from all automated land border ports, limited to on third-country foreign nationals and permanent residents
- Phase 2: August 2016. Canada shares information with the U.S. on U.S. citizens
- Phase 3: July 2019. Full Exchange including (Canadian and U.S. Citizens )
Canada has also established an air exit system, which was implemented in June 2020, that collects basic exit information directly from air carriers through passenger manifests.
It is important to note that only entry information collected in the land mode is shared with the U.S. - information collected in the air mode is not shared.
The collection of exit information enhances the CBSA’s ability to manage border security by closing the loop on an individual's travel history, which includes confirming departure for individuals under enforceable removal order that have left Canada without informing the CBSA. This allows the CBSA to focus efforts and resources towards unknown or higher risk travellers.
Questions and answers:
Q: You mention that the collection of exit information will help the CBSA to enhance its ability to manage border security. What results have you seen to date to confirm that the system is actually working?
Since 2013, there have been nearly 130 million records exchanged between Canada and the US under the Entry/Exit initiative, of which 98% have been successfully reconciled with a previous traveller record.
Acknowledging when an individual has entered or left the country is a crucial aspect of border management. Without reliable exit information, the Government of Canada cannot, with authority, identify when: someone has overstayed their visa/permit; a wanted criminal has left the country; and/or someone has failed to declare their absence from Canada and continues to collect benefits to which they are no longer entitled.
In addition, exit information provides the CBSA with the opportunity to respond to the outbound movement of known high-risk travellers and goods prior to their actual departure from Canada (e.g. fugitives from justice, child sex offenders, human / drug smugglers, export of illicit goods, etc.), as well as better interdict the illegal export of controlled, regulated or prohibited goods from Canada.
Q: Given that this audit is on removals, how does the use of exit data help to strengthen that program?
The information collected through the Entry/Exit initiative is used to verify information presented by the claimant whose application for asylum is completed inland. For example, Entry/Exit data may provide a more thorough travel history for claimants, and contradictions between their statements and the data may give rise to concerns which may negatively impact their claim for refugee protection. Furthermore, these contradictions may lead to investigations that can result in the loss of refugee status for those claimants that were initially successful.
In addition, the removal program can use exit information to confirm if a foreign national has departed Canada without confirming their departure with the CBSA. Once foreign nationals are confirmed to be outside of Canada, the CBSA can cancel immigration warrants, re-prioritize removal orders and increase the level of data integrity in our immigration case tracking systems.
Q: How does the CBSA enforce a removal order for someone that has already left without confirming their departure with the CBSA?
Occasionally, individuals depart Canada when they are under removal order without confirming their departure with the CBSA. When this happens, the removal case is left open and can result in warrants being issued and work being done on a file for which the individual is no longer in Canada.
The CBSA recently implemented regulatory amendments to allow officers within Canada the authority to enforce removal orders for individuals that have left Canada without confirming their departure with CBSA.
Under Regulation 240(3), officers can now evaluate evidence that demonstrates an individual under removal order has left Canada, and can conclude their removal cases within our systems, and close their files.
In 2011, Canada and the U.S. committed to establishing a coordinated entry and exit system through an exchange of information at the shared land border so that one country’s entry records could serve as the other country’s record of exit. Canada also committed to establishing an air exit system, which came into force in June 2020.
Its purpose is to establish a coordinated Entry/Exit Information System to facilitate the exchange of travellers’ biographic information (such as their name and date of birth) collected upon entry at the common land border, so a record of entry into one country can be considered a record of exit from the other.
Prior to the Entry/Exit Initiative, the systematic collection of routine biographic information (such as name, date of birth, and nationality / citizenship) on all persons was primarily limited to persons entering Canada. Although the CBSA collected some limited exit information from persons in the air mode via the Customs Declaration Form (i.e. E311 form), this information could not be easily verified.
Acknowledging when an individual has entered or left the country is a crucial aspect of border management. Without reliable exit information, the Government cannot, with authority, identify when:
- someone has overstayed their visa / permit
- a wanted criminal has left the country, and/or
- someone has failed to declare their absence from Canada and continues to collect benefits to which they are no longer entitled
The implementation of the Entry/Exit Initiative further improved border management by enabling the CBSA and its other government department partners, such as Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada; Canada Revenue Agency, Employment and Social Development Canada; the Royal Canadian Mounted Police; and the Canadian Security Intelligence Services to better:
- respond to the outbound movement of known high-risk travellers and goods prior to their actual departure from Canada (e.g. fugitives of justice, child sex offenders, human / drug smugglers, export of illicit goods, etc.)
- interdict the illegal export of controlled, regulated or prohibited goods from Canada
- verify travel dates to determine applicable duty and tax exemptions, rather than depending on the self-declaration of persons upon entry
- identify individuals who do not leave Canada at the end of their authorized period of stay (i.e. overstays)
- focus and prioritize immigration enforcement activities, such as ongoing criminal and immigration investigations, on persons still in Canada
- cancel immigration warrants and re-prioritize removal orders for persons confirmed to have left the country
- support admissibility decisions by providing decision-makers with a more complete and accurate picture of an individual’s travel history
- verify whether permanent residents have complied with their established residency requirements
- support active investigations related to national security, law enforcement, immigration, citizenship, or travel document fraud
- prevent fraud and abuse of Canada’s social benefit programs to better protect taxpayers’ money
Relevant data / statistics:
What information is collected for entry/exit in land mode?
- Biographical entry information:
- First name
- Middle name
- Last name
- Date of birth
- Document type
- Document number
- Name of the country that issued the travel document.
- In addition to the biographic information that Canada and the US currently collect on travellers at ports of entry, the date and time of entry, as well as the port through which the traveller entered, are collected by each country and exchanged to create exit record
- Exit information includes biographical elements, such as:
- First name
- Middle name(s)
- Last name
- Date of birth
- Citizenship or nationality
- Travel document type
- Document number
- Name of the country that issued the travel document.
- In the land mode, information collected includes the date and time of exit, as well as the port through which the traveller exited the country
- Data collected in the air mode includes the date, time and location of departure as well as flight information from the air carriers for passengers leaving Canada on outbound international flights
Assisted voluntary returns pilot program
- We accept the recommendation from the Auditor General and are working on options to encourage voluntary returns for foreign nationals with removal orders.
- Budget 2019 provided the CBSA with $21M to design an Assisted Voluntary Return pilot, intended to further expand CBSA strategies to incentivize returns, secure compliance with removal orders and reduce removal costs.
- Options have been developed, in consultation with internal and external partners to create an Assisted Voluntary Returns Pilot Program (AVRPP) to be implemented in fall 2021.
- The pilot Program will follow engagement of international like minded partners who currently administer voluntary removal programs, best practices and lessoned learned from the review of the legacy CBSA Assisted Voluntary Returns and Reintegration pilot in 2012-2015.
Questions and answers:
Q: How is the Assisted Voluntary Returns Pilot Program different from the Assisted Voluntary Return and Repatriation (AVRR) pilot program that previously ran from 2012-2015?
Best practices and lessons learned from the previous pilot are being taken into consideration with the development of the new program. For example, the 2012-2015 pilot program was only open to failed refugee claimants and, of those foreign nationals who did participate, the majority were from a limited number of countries. Despite the engagement of a third party service provider, the program did not result in an increase in the number of travel documents to facilitate removals and did not result in a sustained reintegration of removed foreign nationals over the long term. Overall, the previous pilot program did facilitate the ability of inland officers to focus on higher-risk removals, however, removals of the average low-risk case took longer and cost more when new refugee system reforms took effect. The new program will be designed to avoid these challenges.
Q: Are international partners using similar programs? How is the Assisted Voluntary Returns Pilot Program different?
The majority of European Union (EU) countries administer Assisted Voluntary Return (AVR) programs that mirror CBSA’s legacy pilot. Overall these programs share similar approaches in that they provide both cash and in-kind reintegration assistance to failed asylum seekers, although they do not monitor sustained long term reintegration. Best practices and lessons learned from these programs are being considered during the development of the new pilot Program.
Q: How will the Assisted Voluntary Returns Pilot Program increase removals of inadmissible foreign nationals?
The Assisted Voluntary Returns Pilot Program will encourage voluntary compliance by foreign nationals with enforceable removal orders by providing them with monetary incentives to depart Canada as a means of assisting with relocation.
Q: How will the Assisted Voluntary Returns Pilot Program reduce removal costs?
Incentivizing voluntary compliance with enforceable removal orders will reduce the use of Agency resources and provide a cost savings to both the CBSA and the Government of Canada. For example, increased voluntary compliance will reduce the number of individuals in the removals stream of the asylum system and will allow CBSA officers to focus on removing individuals with more difficult cases that have higher associated administration costs. An increased number of individuals departing Canada after their initial negative decision from the Refugee Protection Division might reduce the number of foreign nationals accessing available recourse mechanisms that have low chances of success, thus reducing legal costs. Provincial and Federal social programs will also see a reduction in the number of people using social assistance, schooling, housing and health care as they wait for their subsequent claims to be heard.
Q: When will the new program start?
Delivery is expected in fall 2021.
Through Budget 2019, the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) secured $21M initial funding to design an Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration (AVRR) pilot. The purpose of this funding is to allow the CBSA to develop strategies to incentivize returns, secure compliance with removal orders and subsequently reduce removal costs.
The CBSA legacy AVRR program pilot was introduced from June 29, 2012 to March 31, 2015, to facilitate the timely removal of low-risk, failed refugee claimants through voluntary returns, thereby allowing CBSA’s Inland Enforcement Operations to focus on higher-risk removals. A budget of $31.9 million was allocated over three years to deliver AVRR. This included funding for CBSA and its partner, the International Organization for Migration(IOM) personnel to process the departures, as well as the reintegration assistance, plane tickets, and travel documents for those who returned under the pilot. The pilot was focused operationally within the Greater Toronto Area Region. The pilot design was mirrored on existing international partner administered AVRR programs.
To financially manage the program, the CBSA and the IOM entered into a non-binding Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). As there was no clear provision under the Financial Administration Act to make payments under non-binding arrangements, the Agency sought an Order in Council, approved by the Governor General, in order to initiate ex-gratia payments to the IOM.
Ex-gratia payments were stringently monitored and a financial framework was developed in partnership with the IOM to assure fiscal integrity. A mandatory audit of IOM business practices was undertaken, as articulated within the ratified MOU in the third year of the pilot, and the audit identified no concerns.
The CBSA was responsible for determining program eligibility, and referred interested individuals to the IOM to finalize AVRR enrollment, including planning and implementation of their departure from Canada that involved in-kind reintegration assistance. In-kind reintegration assistance via goods, services, and transactions not involving money or not measured in monetary terms, was disbursed by the IOM overseas (in the country of return), to an amount not exceeding 2K, and was offered to each participant from non-Designated Countries of Origin (non-DCO)Footnote (1).
Additionally, AVRR participants were eligible for differing amounts of reintegration assistance contingent on the recourse processes they partook in (e.g., application for Judicial Review at Federal Court), thereby allowing AVRR participants to avail themselves of a specific amount when electing to enroll in the AVRR program pilot.. The projected target was 6,955 removals; over the lifespan of the pilot, however, the end result was 3,950 removals (57% of the original projection).
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