Private Sponsorship of Refugees (PSR)
South East Asian refugees, circa 1978.
Canada is a country of immigrants with a varied history of welcoming refugees and newcomers from all over the world. The many military campaigns in South East Asia during the 1970’s caused a mass exodus of refugees who desperately needed help and support. It was the plight and flight of these refugees that was the genesis of the Private Sponsorship of Refugees (PSR) program. Canadian churches and community groups recognized these people particularly needed support and so they worked tirelessly to find safe places for them to live in Canada. The Government of Canada formalized this process of Canadians sponsoring refugees from overseas in the Private Sponsorship of Refugees Program (PSR).  


Refugee children in a camp in Jordan.
The PSR program is designed to allow refugees who are living abroad build new lives through sponsorship by Canadian citizens and permanent residents. Under the PSR program, private sponsors here in Canada commit to provide assistance and support to refugees usually for their first year of life in Canada. Since 1978, over 200,000 refugees have been assisted to resettle in Canada through private sponsorship. The vast majority of refugee sponsorship is carried out through incorporated organizations called Sponsorship Agreement Holders (SAH), such as AURA. There are currently 85 such groups that have signed agreements with Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) to sponsor and resettle refugees from overseas. The majority of SAH’s are either faith-based organizations, ethno-cultural groups, or humanitarian organizations. SAH’s are able to submit sponsorship applications to CIC in return for guaranteeing tens of thousands of dollars and hours in refugee support. The Private Sponsorship of Refugees Program is designed for Canadians to take an active role in making a difference in helping refugees and people in refugee-like situations.  


PSR Works

PSR is usually the fourth largest resettlement program in the world, after the governments of the USA, Canada, and Australia.

Refugees who arrive in Canada through the PSR program become self-supporting much more quickly than refugees who are completely supported by the government.

PSR is the only program in the world that allows private citizens to help refugees directly through the resettlement process.  


Why Canada helps refugees through PSR

PSR is aligned with the Government of Canada’s objective of upholding Canada’s humanitarian tradition of protecting those in need.

PSR is aligned with CIC refugee protection mandate, which is derived from the 2002 Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA).

PSR supports the CIC strategic outcome of successful integration of newcomers and promotion of Canadian citizenship.

Canada is one of 16 countries that take part in United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) resettlement programs.

In 2002, Canada endorsed the UNHCR’s Agenda for Protection, which focuses on activities to strengthen international protection of asylum-seekers and refugees.

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