Irregular border crossers

​​​​Key Messages

  • Approximately 60,000 claims by irregular border crossers have been referred to the Refugee Protection Division since 2017.
  • That represents about one third of total intake during that time period.
  • Approximately half of those claims have been finalized across the asylum continuum (including recourse at the RAD).
  • 32,500 irregular claims have been processed at the RPD, which represents 55% of the total irregular claims referred to the RPD
    • 20,700 are considered finalized across the asylum continuum (17k positives and 4k negatives not appealing to the RAD)
    • 8,600 have had their appeals processed at the RAD, which is 72% of total irregular appeals to RAD
    • 3,200 are pending a decision at the RAD
  • The approximately 30,000 remaining cases comprise less than one third of all pending cases (92,000 across both Divisions).
  • Of irregular claims processed to date, 54% have been accepted across the asylum continuum:
    • 51% at first determination; and
    • 3% after seeking recourse at the RAD.
  • To date, approximately 11,000 claims have been rejected across the continuum and are subject to the removal process
    • 4,000 did not seek recourse (average of 14 months to final decision); and
    • 7,000 following recourse to RAD (average of 24 months to final decision).

The Board will continue to finalize claims and appeals made by irregular border crossers in proportion to their percentage of the pending inventory: approximately 32% of claims, and 41% of appeals in 2020-21.


What are the trends in terms of irregulars in the last few years?

  • At the RPD, the proportion of Irregular Border Crossers has dropped to 23% of new intake in the past 12 months, down from a high of 45% of intake in FY 2017-18.​
  • As cases make their way to the RAD, the proportion of IBC cases has increased to 45% of new RAD intake over the past 12 months.
  • By finalizing IBCs in proportion with the their numbers in the pending inventory, the percentage of IBCs in RPD and RAD inventories have been held in check:
Text format

Percentage IBCs in inventory

 2019 Oct. 2019 Nov. 2019 Dec. 2020 Jan. 2020 Feb. 2020 Mar. 2020 Apr. 2020 May 2020 June 2020 July 2020 Aug. 2020 Sept. 2020 Oct.
RPD 35% 34% 34% 34% 33% 32% 33% 32% 32% 32% 31% 31% 31%
RAD 49% 48% 47% 43% 41% 41% 41% 41% 41% 43% 44% 45% 45%

What is the number of remaining irregular claims in the inventory and percent of remaining in inventory?


  • As of October 31, there was approximately 26,350 irregular claims remaining in the RPD inventory, which represents 31% of the total inventory.


  • As of October 31, approximately 3,226 irregular appeals remain in the RAD inventory, which represents 45% of the total appeals pending.

What is the average age inventory of irregulars vs. regular claims?

  • The average age of irregulars claims in RPD inventory is 20 months as opposed to 16 months for regular claims.
  • The average age of irregular appeals in RAD inventory is six months as opposed to seven months for regular appeals.

What is the average IRB approval rate of irregular vs regular claims/appeals?

  • The overall acceptance rate at the RPD is approximately 61%. This rate varies over different time periods and different cohorts. For example, IBCs have a slightly lower acceptance rate of approximately 55%.
  • For the last 12 months, the RAD allowed 22% of irregular appeals, which is 11 percent lower than regular claims at 33%

Why are acceptance rates lower for irregular border crossers?

  • While all claims are determined based on their individual merits, slightly lower acceptance rates for these claims can likely be accounted for by a higher concentration among two source countries, namely Nigeria and Haiti.

How many refugee claims and appeals made by irregular border crossers are you receiving per year?

  • In Fiscal Year 2019-20, a total of 16,600 refugee claims made by irregular border crossers were referred to the Board – an average of approximately 1,375 per month.
  • This is a 7 percent decrease in intake over the previous fiscal year, which saw a total of over 18,000, an average of approximately 1,500 each month.
  • Regarding refugee appeals made by irregular border crossers, Fiscal Year 2019-20 saw a total intake of approximately 5,600, or an average of about 468 per month.
  • This is a 53 percent increase over the previous fiscal year, which saw a total of approximately 3,600, an average of about 306 each month.
  • Between April and October 2020, an average of 70 irregular claims and 200 appeals have been made per month.

Are you seeing any changes in the intake of claims and appeals made by irregular border crossers?

  • Intake of claims in FY 2019-20 is down 7 percent from FY 2018-19 and 28 percent from FY 2017-18.  Numbers for 2020-21 are particularly impacted by the border closure; intake for the fiscal year to date is down 95% from the same time period last year.
  • The overall acceptance rate increased over time to reach 55% (compared to 47% in 2018), as a more diverse caseload has been finalized.   
  • Intake of appeals was up 53% percent in 2019-20 compared to 2018-19 as a result of the increase in the number of claims finalized at the RPD. Allowance rates have increased  to 19% from 14% in 2018-19.
  • The make-up of the Irregular inventory is changing
    • In 2017, when we first started tracking this cohort, the majority of cases were from Haiti and Nigeria, which together made up 58% of irregular intake.
    • In 2019, more countries were represented, with over half of irregular claims coming from six countries: Nigeria, Colombia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Pakistan, Haiti, and Sudan. Nigeria remained the largest, making up 20% of irregular intake, while the other six countries made up less than 10% each.
    • Between January and October 2020, top countries remained the same, with 50% of intake coming from Nigeria, Haiti, Colombia, Pakistan and DR Congo.
  • Among all claims received by irregular border crossers, over 130 different countries of alleged persecution have been represented.