Notice – #WelcomeRefugees: Processing privately sponsored Syrian refugee applications

Ottawa, June 22, 2016—The Government’s commitment to resettling Syrian refugees to Canada is continuing in 2016. Every effort will be made to finalize the processing of all privately sponsored Syrian refugee applications submitted up to March 31, 2016, by the end of 2016 or early 2017.

For approximately six weeks, starting the week of May 9, 2016, additional dedicated staff joined employees and partner organizations already working in the Middle East to process these applications. After this “blitz” period, mission staff in the Middle East will continue to process private sponsorship applications and finalize cases when ready.

By June 20, nearly 6,100 interviews of privately sponsored refugees have been completed. These refugees will continue through the screening process overseas, which includes full health and security screening. It will take approximately three to six months from the interview for refugees to complete the rest of the process and arrive in Canada. Some families are already arriving and others will continue to arrive over the coming months.

Following the interview and the completion of health and security screening, a visa officer will make a decision on applications and issue a visa for approved applicants.

Once a visa has been issued, the refugee(s)’s information will be passed to the International Organization for Migration (IOM). The IOM will organize the Canada orientation abroad training, obtain the necessary exit permits from the country where refugee is located and schedule transportation to Canada. Flights are generally arranged within four to eight weeks following a visa being issued.

Private sponsors are then advised generally 10-business days in advance of the arrival of their sponsored refugee(s).

While it is important to prepare for the arrival of the sponsored refugees, we encourage sponsors not to obtain permanent accommodations too far in advance. Arrival times are approximate and depend on a number of factors.

We encourage all sponsors to stay in regular contact with the refugees they are sponsoring to ensure that application information remains up-to-date.

In the event a refugee’s application is not approved, a written letter will be sent to the sponsor and refugee in order to advise them of the reasons for the refusal. Sponsors will also be advised if the application is closed for non-compliance such as the refugee failing to show-up for their interview or medical exam.

For privately sponsored refugees going to Quebec, please contact Immigration, Diversité et Inclusion Québec.

The Annual Immigration Levels plan establishes the number of individuals who will come to Canada in a given year. The Government of Canada has nearly tripled the number of spaces for privately sponsored refugees to 17,800 in 2016, compared to 6,300 the previous year.

Should sponsors book flights to Canada for their sponsored refugees?

Individuals who are accepted for resettlement to Canada will be issued a permanent resident visa. The IOM generally arranges for transportation to Canada via commercial flights as they need to obtain the necessary exit permits from the host country.

We do not advise sponsors to book flights from countries that require exit permits, as the IOM is Canada’s recognized partner for transport and is best placed to assist with this process.

What about private sponsorship applications for Syrian refugees received on or after April 1, 2016?

Processing of Syrian sponsorship applications received on or after April 1, 2016, is expected to begin in late 2016 or 2017. Sponsors should expect processing times for these applications to be longer.

We know refugees and sponsors are disappointed that expedited processing for Syrians could not continue indefinitely but Canada’s ongoing response to the global refugee crisis must be done in a sustainable way.

What about private sponsorship applications for non-Syrian refugees?

In addition to the significant effort to resettle Syrians, Canada will resettle more non-Syrian privately sponsored refugees in 2016 than in recent years. This year is expected to be the most ambitious resettlement year in Canadian history. By the end of 2016, we hope to have resettled about 44,800 refugees in Canada, including 17,800 privately sponsored refugees. This is a very large increase in refugee resettlement levels, about four times the levels of previous years.

Please check the application processing times on our website as times vary.

The Government remains committed to helping provide protection to both Syrian and non-Syrian refugees.

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