How Refugee Sponsorship Works

Overview of The Private Sponsorship of Refugees (PSR) program


Sponsor
Private Sponsorship of Refugees program qualification for specific refugees

The process begins when refugee(s) identify themselves to a potential sponsor. This is done in a variety of ways such as, direct contact by email, phone or mail or referral through family, friends, UN agencies or partner NGOs. Once initial contact has been made sponsors work with refugees to learn their story in order to understand if they qualify as a refugee based on the international and domestic laws. While many people leave their country due to economics or natural disaster they do not fit the legal definition of a refugee.

Qualifying for PSR can also be confirmed by possession of refugee status with the UNHCR. If the person is found to qualify as a refugee, the SAH can submit the sponsorship with or without finding a church or group willing to financially support the refugee (or refugee family) for one year in Canada. Sometimes there is a group which is already willing to provide support. When this is the case the group or church must be assessed to confirm they have enough financial resources and volunteers for settlement work for one year after arrival. Once both the refugee and church are eligible, formal documents must be completed and submitted to the Government of Canada.

These documents must include an explanation for the reason the person qualifies as a refugee, their background information and personal history along with supporting documents to collaborate their story. The church or group must also submit documentation proving their ability and capacity to fulfil the sponsorship requirements. The amount of information that is required varies based on what type of group is sponsoring. If both the refugee and the church or group’s documents are accepted locally by the Government of Canada’s Citizenship and Immigration branch then the case is referred to the appropriate overseas visa post.

Processing times for Private Sponsorship of Refugees program

While the Government of Canada has many embassies and visa posts around the world many do not process refugee applications. This limitation leads to wait times of anywhere from 1 to 9 years before a refugee is interviewed, accepted, granted a visa and arrives in Canada. During this processing time the case must be reviewed regularly by the SAH and group and if the family composition, location or overall circumstances change the file must be amended and these changes identified to CIC to ensure these changes do not cause more delays in the process.

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