Refugee Resettlement in Canada Information Bulletin No. 5

The following information bulletin was handed out to Bhutanese refugees in October 2012 after their selection interview with Canadian officials for resettlement in Canada.

Canada has decided to resettle up to 500 more Bhutanese refugees whose only family connections are in Canada.

Canadian officers will be visiting the refugee camps in Nepal in October 2012 to select this last group of Bhutanese refugees.

This bulletin provides important information regarding members of your family you may be leaving behind in the camps such as children, parents, and grandparents.

It is important that you understand Canada’s policies and programs for reuniting with your family . You may be able to sponsor some of your family, but this will probably take a long time.

If you have already been interviewed by Canadian officials and chosen for resettlement, please remember that it could still take several months before you come to Canada.

If you are selected, the Government of Canada will offer you a loan which you will need to pay back gradually over time once you are in Canada. The loan will cover the cost of your medical examination and your travel to Canada.

This bulletin also provides you with some general information about life in Canada.

Once in Canada, bringing your family over

Once you have settled in Canada, you may be able to sponsor other members of your family who are still in Nepal including your parents and grandparents.

In many cases, your spouse and children (who are under 22 years of age) will come with you to Canada when you are resettled. If they don’t come with you, you may be able to sponsor them to come to Canada later. However, they must be listed on your application form. If they are not, you may not be able to sponsor them later on. Be sure to keep all the information on your application up-to-date. Contact the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) or a Canadian visa officer if there are any changes in your family such as a marriage, new baby, etc.

Generally speaking, you cannot sponsor brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins or adult children (individuals over 22 years of age). If they want to come to Canada, they will have to apply for permanent residence on their own. There are, however, a few, limited exceptions to this rule. Once you are in Canada, please visit the CIC website for more information, or contact the CIC Call Centre to find out if your relatives qualify for an exception.

If you want to sponsor a member of your family to come to Canada as a permanent resident, you are responsible for supporting your relative financially when he or she arrives. You may have to meet certain income requirements when you apply. As a result, it may take a long time before you will be able to apply to sponsor. Therefore, you might not see those members of your family for many years.

Another option is private refugee sponsorship. Private sponsors are religious organizations or humanitarian groups that have agreements with the Government of Canada to resettle refugees. Private sponsors are responsible for financially and emotionally supporting refugees they bring to Canada. Private sponsors generally submit several refugee sponsorships a year, but you should know that there are a great many people waiting for private sponsorship from all over the world. It is up to each private sponsor to decide which refugee(s) they will sponsor. Once you are in Canada, please visit the CIC website for more information, or contact the CIC Call Centre.

General Information About Life in Canada

Becoming a Canadian citizen

When you arrive in Canada, you will be given a document that says you can live here permanently – as a permanent resident. This means it is legal for you to stay in Canada for the rest of your life. You will be able to work or go to school, and you will receive free health care.

After you have lived in Canada for three years, you may apply to become a Canadian citizen.

Refugee Support Services

You will get financial assistance to help you pay for your food and a place to live for your first year in Canada. Someone will welcome you at the airport and you will receive help to adjust to everyday life in Canada, such as how to use local transportation and buy food. Children will be able to go to school for free and everyone can get free health care. Depending on your needs, a group of Canadians may help you adapt to life in Canada. You will also receive help to learn English or French, the two main languages spoken in Canada, and to find a job.

There are many community groups and associations for men, women and children that you can join. You can become involved in sporting activities such as soccer or football and there are many activities that you can do as a family. Some activities are free, while there is a cost for others.

The government also has services that help with the special needs of women, seniors, children, youth and persons with physical limitations.

Nepali-speaking people in Canada

There are some southern Bhutanese and many Nepalese people already living in Canada. Some of these people will help you and your family get settled once you arrive. By the time you arrive, almost 5,000 Bhutanese will have already come to Canada as part of this resettlement effort. They have settled in a number of cities across the country.

Canadian Society

In Canada, men and women are treated equally and have equal rights. There is no caste system, which means that men and women of all social classes, cultures, races and religions interact with one another and are treated equally.

Religion in Canada

In Canada, you are allowed to practice your religion freely. Canadian law requires that you tolerate other religions. You will not be asked or forced to change your religion. Freedom of religion is one of Canada’s basic rights. Many religions are practiced in Canada and there are many Buddhist and Hindu temples, and Christian churches across the country. In many cities, you can invite Hindu Pandits home for religious ceremonies. Many services, such as cremation, are also available.


There are four different seasons in most of Canada: spring, summer, autumn and winter. The temperatures and weather in each season can be different from one part of the country to another.

Spring (March, April and May) is a rainy season in most parts of Canada, and the weather can be cool. In summer (June, July and August), the weather is very warm in most parts of the country. During the day, temperatures are often above 20°C and can sometimes rise above 30°C. In the autumn (September, October and November), the weather cools and it can also be very rainy. During the winter months (December, January and February), the temperature in most of the country usually stays below 0°C, day and night.

Temperatures in some parts of the country can drop below -25°C, while along the West Coast, the temperature rarely drops below 0°C. In most of Canada, snow will be on the ground from the middle of December to the middle of March.

During even the coldest months, buildings and houses are well heated and comfortable. To stay warm in winter when they are outside, people wear outdoor clothes like an overcoat, boots, gloves and a hat. They also wear several layers under their outdoor clothes such as an undershirt, a shirt and a sweater.

Stories that are false

Sometimes there are rumours in the camps about resettlement that are false.

You should know that:

  • You will NOT be “sold” for slave labour or forced to fight in Iraq or anywhere else. While you will be encouraged to work in Canada you cannot be forced into a particular job. Military service is a choice in Canada and you do NOT have to become a soldier.
  • You will NOT be forced to live in a refugee camp. There are no refugee camps in Canada.
  • Cold weather does NOT prevent people in Canada from having children. There are families of all sizes in Canada. It is up to individuals to decide how many children they will have.
  • It is NOT true that your resettlement to Canada will be cancelled if you get married, get pregnant, or have a baby while you are waiting to travel. However, it is very important to tell a UNHCR officer or Canadian official if there are any changes in your family to make sure everyone is included in your application and can travel with you to Canada.
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