Sponsoring Syrian refugees

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Za'atari refugee camp, Jordan (image courtesy of the UNHCR).

Security and health screening

Each Syrian refugee will undergo a robust, multi-layered screening before departing for Canada, including collection of biometrics.

Find out more about security and health screening.

Saving family No.417: the Blended Visa Office-Referred (BVOR) program in action

A mother and her three children, had no idea a group of strangers in Peterborough, Ontario had chosen to sponsor her family through the BVOR program.

Read the Maclean's article online

Canadians can sponsor refugees in three different ways:

  • Sponsorship Agreement Holders (SAHs). Connecting with an established SAH is the quickest and easiest way to sponsor a refugee to come to Canada, and many SAHs have sponsored refugees who will be arriving in the near future and who would benefit from community support when they arrive. A list of the SAHs in Canada is updated regularly to reflect all groups/organizations which have signed sponsorship agreements with the Government of Canada;
  • Groups of Five (G5) are five or more Canadian citizens or permanent residents who combine efforts and resources to sponsor refugees living abroad to come to Canada. Please note that processing applications from new sponsors may take longer than other options. We therefore encourage Canadians wishing to become involved in sponsorships to connect with an established SAH; and
  • Community Sponsors (CSs) can be an organization, association or corporation that seeks to sponsor a refugee. Again, please note that processing applications from new sponsors may take longer than other options. We therefore encourage Canadians wishing to become involved in sponsorships to connect with an established SAH.

Many members of the Syrian community in Canada want to bring their family members to Canada, but not all have the financial means.

If you are ready to become a sponsor, the Syrian Family Links Initiative can help connect you with someone in your area who has identified a family member for sponsorship to come to Canada. Find out more about the Syrian Family Links Initiative.

For Groups of Five and Community Sponsors wishing to sponsor Syrian or Iraqi refugees, the documentation required for the sponsorship process has been temporarily reduced to make it easier for Canadians and Permanent Residents to sponsor refugees from the region.

Sponsors in Quebec: Quebec has its own process to sponsor refugees. Find more about refugee sponsorship in Quebec.

Sponsorship in general

Refugee sponsors agree to provide refugees with care, lodging, settlement assistance and support. Normally, this is for 12 months starting from the refugee’s arrival in Canada or until the refugee becomes self-sufficient, whichever comes first. Sponsors are required to demonstrate their ability to meet the required financial obligations of sponsorship.

Private sponsors also normally support the sponsored refugees by:

  • providing the cost of food, rent and household utilities and other day-to-day living expenses;
  • providing clothing, furniture and other household goods;
  • locating interpreters;
  • selecting a family physician and dentist;
  • assisting with applying for provincial health-care coverage;
  • enrolling children in school and adults in language training;
  • introducing newcomers to people with similar personal interests;
  • providing orientation with regard to banking services, transportation, etc.; and
  • helping in the search for employment.

Before any application can be accepted, the sponsored persons must undergo a medical examination and a security check or background screening to ensure the safety and security of Canadians.

The Blended Visa Office-Referred program

Under the Blended Visa Office-Referred (BVOR) program, Canada matches refugees identified for resettlement by referral agencies such as the UN Refugee Agency with private sponsors in Canada. Under the BVOR program, launched in 2013, the federal government provides six months of federal income support for refugees, which is matched by six months of private sponsorship support. The sponsor is also expected to provide social support for the full 12-month period.

The Government of Canada has expanded the BVOR program so that G5 and CSs can also access Syrian refugee files currently in the inventory as part of this program.

IRCC is also making more refugee profiles available earlier in the process so that sponsors can be identified for Syrian refugees. In order to expedite the process, profiles will only be available for 14 days. If no sponsor has been identified, the refugee application will continue to be processed through Government-Assisted Refugees Program.

Sponsorship Agreement Holders, G5s and CSs interested in sponsoring a Syrian refugee through the BVOR program should contact the Refugee Sponsorship Training Program at info@rstp.ca. For sponsors in Quebec, please visit refugee sponsorship in Quebec.

In the news

#WelcomeRefugees: How it will work

Learn more about our five phase plan to settle 25,000 refugees and protect the safety of Canadians.

I am a refugee – Edy

A student and violinist, Edy and his family are looking forward to starting a new life in Canada.

Canada: A History of Refuge

Visit our online refugee exhibition to learn more about refugees in Canada.

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