OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Feb. 15, 2012) - The CBSA announced today that it is expanding its Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration (AVRR) pilot program to encourage even more failed refugee claimants to voluntarily leave Canada. The program, which will be launched in the summer of 2012 in the Greater Toronto Area, will now be open to those in the current asylum system and to people wishing to return to any country.

With the pilot's expansion, the CBSA has the potential to achieve up to 6,955 voluntary returns by providing reintegration assistance to those willing to return to their home countries. These voluntary returns will be managed by a trusted third party service provider. As a result, CBSA enforcement officers will be freed up to concentrate on more complex, higher priority removal cases, including those involving serious criminality and crimes against humanity.

Assisted voluntary return and reintegration programs have been successfully adopted in countries throughout Europe, including the United Kingdom, as well as in Australia. Voluntary returns have proven to be more humane, timely and cost-effective than traditional enforced removals.

Under the AVRR pilot program, the CBSA will work with a service partner, who will administer the program on its behalf. The service partner will provide eligible participants with travel arrangements and counselling to facilitate their departure, in addition to in-kind reintegration assistance of up to a maximum of CAN$2,000.

Reintegration assistance will be made available to participants upon arrival in their home country to help them re-establish themselves, and can be used to help start a small business, or to access services such as education, vocational training or job placement. The aim of reintegration assistance is to help participants achieve sustainable, secure lives in their home countries, ensuring they would be less likely to attempt a return to Canada.

Potential participants will be required to meet a stringent set of eligibility criteria in order to benefit from the program. It is not open to criminals, individuals who have been determined by the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada to have made an unfounded (fraudulent or non-credible) claim, or to those who have not cooperated with the removals process. For more information, consult the AVRR Fact Sheet.

This pilot program, a key component of the Balanced Refugee Reform initiative, is another example of how the Government of Canada is strengthening the integrity of our border and Canada's immigration and refugee system while ensuring the safety and security of Canadians.

For more information on the pilot, consult the CBSA's Web site.

Contact Information:

CBSA Media line