Private Refugee Sponsorship
How does Canada’s private refugee sponsorship work?
Canada’s private refugee sponsorship program started in 1979 when Canadians sponsored 35,000 South-East Asian refugees in less than two years.
Did you know Canada received a United Nations award for its service to refugees?
Yes, that is correct. In 1986, Canada received the United Nations’ highest award for servicing refugees. Canada was the first country in the world to receive this award.
There are currently three programs under Canada’s private refugee sponsorship system, which we will discuss in detail. For all of these programs, the refugee and their family must be outside Canada and intend to reside in a province except Quebec.
**Quebec has its own immigration system and refugee sponsorship programs.
**Applicants inside Canada who wish to make a refugee claim must apply at the Refugee Protection Division (RPD).
1. Community Sponsorship
To apply under the community sponsorship program, the refugee and their family must have the support of a Canadian organization, corporation or association that has enough finances to support them for at least one year.
The community organization must meet several criteria to be eligible to sponsor refugees from abroad. More importantly, the refugee must plan to resettle in the same city as the community sponsor. Communities can submit multiple applications as long as they meet the financial criteria and have enough funds to support all the refugees they are sponsoring.
2. Sponsorship Agreement Holders (SAH)
The sponsorship agreement holders are incorporated organizations that have an agreement with the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) to sponsor a limited number of refugees per year.
They are usually allowed to sponsor up to five refugees per year. However, this number depends on their agreement with IRCC.
The main difference between Sponsorship Agreement Holders and other organizations is that they are pre-approved by IRCC for sponsoring refugees. In other words, they are not required to submit extensive documentation or undergo background checks to be eligible for sponsorship as IRCC has already approved them.
There are currently 120 SAHs in Canada. To find a SAH near you, click here.
It’s noteworthy to mention that receiving the support of a SAH is not that easy as usually, refugees have to be placed on the waitlist, which can take anywhere from a few months to years. Also, they can submit applications only during a certain period of the year.
3. Group of Five Sponsorship
Group of Five sponsorship is the most common type of sponsorship in Canada as it only requires five Canadian citizens or permanent residents to sponsor a refugee and their family from abroad.
This type of sponsorship requires extensive documentation from the sponsors, and all five sponsors must undergo a criminal background check to be deemed eligible. Also, they must all be residing in the same community that the refugee wishes to resettle. If some of the sponsors live in a different community, a representative in the community must be appointed for each sponsor who is not physically residing there. The representative is not liable to fulfill the sponsorship obligations.
It’s important to note that all sponsors are not required to support the refugee financially. The sponsor’s financial eligibility has to be assessed based on their annual income and family size. The sponsors are required to show proof that they have the necessary funds to support the refugee. To do so, at least three sponsors can commit to support the refugee based on their income or a number of sponsors can open a trust account and keep the necessary funds there until the refugee arrives in Canada.
Do we need to have refugee status?
For all the categories of private refugee sponsorship, the refugee and their family must be recognized refugee(s) in their country of residence. This means that the UNHCR or the foreign state has accepted their refugee claim and their legal status is now a refugee in that country. The refugee status is referred to as “Refugee Status Determination”.
If a SAH is sponsoring the refugee, having refugee status is not required, but it is highly recommended.
Most of the time, applicants are confused about this requirement and believe that being registered with the UNHCR proves they are refugees. However, this is not the case. Applicants must have refugee status in their country of residence. Registering with the UNHCR does not guarantee that your refugee claim will be accepted, and you will be provided with protection. If you have registered yourself with the UNHCR, you will have to wait until you receive a decision on your claim. This process involves several interviews with the UNHCR and can take up to several months or years depending on the country and the UNHCR office.
Who decides on private refugee applications?
The IRCC is the only authorized body to decide on private refugee sponsorship cases. The UNHCR or any other government department does not have the authority to grant permanent residence under this category.
What responsibilities do the sponsors have?
The sponsors or the community sponsor are responsible for supporting the refugee family for at least 12 months, both financially and physically. The sponsors’ responsibilities start when the refugee lands in Canada, not before that.
Some of their responsibilities include:
How does the process work?
After submitting the application, the IRCC will send the authorized representative, the sponsors or the applicant a file number and start processing the application. Once the sponsors’ eligibility is evaluated, the IRCC will ask the applicant to attend an in-person interview at the IRCC office to determine their eligibility for being granted Canadian permanent resident status.
If the interview is successful, the refugee will be requested to complete a medical examination and undergo security checks. Upon successfully completing these steps, travel accommodations will be arranged for the refugee and their family to enter Canada.
What is the One-Year Window of Opportunity?
Under this policy, the refugee has one year from the date of landing in Canada to bring their non-accompanying family members to Canada.
If you want to sponsor a refugee from abroad, our team of experienced immigration consultants can help you! We specialize in group of five applications and we Refugee sponsorship applications require extensive documentation depending on each case, we specialize in private refugee sponsorships and we can assist you with your application.