Resettlement from outside Canada

Canada’s Refugee and Humanitarian Resettlement Program is for people in need of protection who are outside Canada and outside their home country.

Information bulletins

View and print bulletins: Resettlement in Canada as a refugee

These bulletins provide information about the next steps in the application process, and give you more information about Canada.




To come to Canada as a refugee, you must be:

  • referred by the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) or another designated referral organization, or
  • be sponsored by a private sponsorship group.

You cannot apply directly for resettlement to Canada at any embassy or a visa office.

Eligibility for resettlement

People who can be resettled from outside Canada fall into two classes.

1) Convention Refugee Abroad Class

You may be in this class if you:

  • are outside your home country; and
  • cannot return there due to a well-founded fear of persecution based on:
    • race,
    • religion,
    • political opinion,
    • nationality, or
    • membership in a particular social group, such as women or people with a particular sexual orientation.

You must also be:

  • referred by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) or another referral organization, or be sponsored by a private sponsorship group, and
  • selected as a government-assisted or privately sponsored refugee, or have the funds needed to support yourself and any dependants after you arrive in Canada.

2) Country of Asylum Class

You may be in this class if you:

  • are outside your home country or the country where you normally live and have been, and continue to be, seriously and personally affected by civil war or armed conflict, or have suffered massive violations of human rights.

You must also be:

  • referred by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) or another referral organization or be sponsored by a private sponsorship group, and
  • privately sponsored, or have the funds needed to support yourself and any dependants after you arrive in Canada.

You will have to pass a medical exam and security and criminal checks.

Some people are not eligible

You are not eligible to resettle to Canada as a refugee from outside Canada if:

  • you have another durable solution for protection, such as an offer to be resettled in another country;
  • you become a citizen of another country and have the protection of that country;
  • you choose to return to live in the country you had left; or
  • the reasons for your fear of persecution no longer exist.

Want to live in Quebec?

The Province of Quebec selects its own refugees. Find out about Québec’s procedures for selecting refugees abroad.

Types of resettlement

There are three ways that refugees are resettled to Canada :

  • Government-Assisted Refugees (GARs)
    • These are Convention refugees whose initial settlement (for up to one year) is entirely supported by the Government of Canada or by the province of Quebec.
    • They are referred to Canada for resettlement by a referral organization like the UNHCR.
  • Privately sponsored refugees (PSRs)
    • These are refugees who meet either the Convention refugee or the Country of Asylum definitions.
    • They are referred for resettlement by a private sponsor in Canada who agrees to provide financial and other support for the refugee for one year.
  • Blended Visa Office-Referred refugees (BVORs)
    • These are Convention refugees referred by the UNHCR who are matched with a private sponsor in Canada.
    • The Government of Canada provides up to six months of income support through the Resettlement Assistance Program (RAP), while private sponsors provide another six months of financial support and up to a year of social and emotional support.
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