Guide to the Private Sponsorship of Refugees Program – 2. Private sponsorship of refugees program

2.1 Who may be sponsored?

The PSR program is strictly for sponsoring refugees and persons in refugee-like situations. Under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations, there are two classes of persons who may qualify as refugees for Canada's refugee and humanitarian resettlement program. The classes are the Convention Refugees Abroad Class and the Country of Asylum Class.

A Convention refugee is any person who by reason of a well-founded fear of persecution because of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group or political opinion:

  • is outside the country of his or her nationality and is unable or, by reason of that fear, unwilling to avail himself or herself of the protection of that country; or
  • does not have a country of nationality, is outside the country of his or her former habitual residence and is unable or, by reason of that fear, unwilling to return to that country.

A Convention Refugee Abroad is any person who:

  • is a Convention refugee;
  • is outside Canada;
  • is seeking resettlement in Canada;
  • does not have a prospect of another durable solution, within a reasonable period of time, that is:
    • cannot return to his or her country of nationality or habitual residence;
    • cannot integrate in the country of refuge or the country of first asylum; and
    • does not have another offer of resettlement from a country other than Canada.
  • will be privately sponsored or assisted by the government or has adequate financial resources to support himself or herself and any dependants.

A member of the Country of Asylum Class is a person:

  • who is outside his or her country of citizenship or habitual residence;
  • who has been, and continues to be, seriously and personally affected by civil war or armed conflict or who has suffered massive violations of human rights;
  • for whom there is no possibility of finding an adequate solution to his or her situation within a reasonable period of time; and
  • who will be privately sponsored or who has adequate financial resources to support himself or herself and any dependants.

An officer at a Canadian visa office makes the final decision on whether someone meets one of these definitions and is, therefore, eligible for resettlement. The eligibility decision is normally based on an interview with the applicant, supporting documentation submitted by the applicant and sponsoring group and additional information available to the officer (such as country condition updates).

To be accepted for resettlement in Canada, the refugee must also pass medical, security and admissibility checks. In addition, refugees will be assessed on their ability to establish successfully in Canada. In making this assessment, the visa officer will consider whether the refugee has relatives or a sponsor in Canada, the ability to speak or learn to speak English or French, the potential for employment and resourcefulness. When a family unit is applying, the settlement potential of all family members is assessed as a single determination. Refugees deemed by the visa officer to be in urgent need of protection or in vulnerable circumstances are not assessed on their ability to establish.

2.2 Who may not be sponsored?

The following persons do not qualify for private sponsorship:

  • People already in Canada. Such persons seeking Canada's protection as refugees should contact a local Citizenship and Immigration Centre for information on how to make a refugee claim.
  • People who were the subject of a previous sponsorship application and were refused, unless:
    • their circumstances have changed;
    • new information, which was not presented in the previous application, has come to light; or
    • Canadian laws affecting the case have changed.
  • People deemed to be Convention refugees by another country and allowed to live there permanently.
  • People who fled persecution or civil war some time ago but can now integrate into the country where they are residing or can return home safely.

2.3 Who may submit a private sponsorship?

The following groups may submit a private sponsorship:

  • Sponsorship Agreement Holders (SAHs) are incorporated organizations that have signed a formal sponsorship agreement with Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC). Most current SAHs are religious organizations, ethnocultural groups or humanitarian organizations. SAHs, which may be local, regional or national, assume overall responsibility for the management of sponsorships under their agreement. Organizations entering into a sponsorship agreement with CIC generally submit several refugee sponsorships a year.
  • Constituent Groups (CGs): A SAH can authorize CGs to sponsor under its agreement and provide support to the refugees. Each SAH sets its own criteria for recognizing CGs. CGs are based in the sponsored refugee's expected community of settlement and must have their sponsorship application and settlement plan approved by their SAH before the undertaking is submitted to the Centralized Processing Office in Winnipeg (CPO-W).
  • Groups of Five (G5) are five or more Canadian citizens or permanent residents, who are at least 18 years of age, live in the expected community of settlement and have collectively arranged for the sponsorship of a refugee living abroad. The five individuals act as guarantors that the necessary support will be provided for the full duration of the sponsorship. The CPO-W assesses individual contributions of group members to the sponsorship. The financial and non-financial aspects are considered collectively as well as the settlement plan before the sponsorship is approved. The group's financial commitment must meet the levels established in the Sponsorship Cost Table.

    As part of the application package, the sponsoring group will need to include proof that each applicant has been recognized as a refugee by the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) or by a foreign state. Only a photocopy of the original document is required. If the document is in a language other than English or French, then a certified translation (in either official language) must be submitted along with the photocopy of the original document.

  • Community Sponsors (CSs): Any organization (for-profit/not-for-profit, incorporated/non-incorporated) located in the community where the refugees are expected to settle can make an organizational commitment to sponsor. CIC allows Community Sponsors to submit only two sponsorship undertakings a year and they must undergo financial and settlement plan assessments by the CPO-W each time they wish to sponsor. Like G5s, Community Sponsors must demonstrate that the organization is willing and able to commit funds toward the sponsorship in line with the levels established in the Sponsorship Cost Table.

    As part of the application package, the sponsoring group will need to include proof that each applicant has been recognized as a refugee by the UNHCR or by a foreign state. Only a photocopy of the original document is required. If the document is in a language other than English or French, then a certified translation (in either official language) must be submitted along with the photocopy of the original document.

  • A SAH, a CG or a CS has the option of formalizing a partnership with an outside party to share in the delivery of settlement assistance and support. Partnerships may be formed with individuals (e.g., a family member of the sponsored refugee living in Canada) or other organizations. The partner–cosponsor–is expected to sign the sponsorship undertaking and discharge the responsibilities that were agreed to in the settlement plan.

2.4 Who may not submit a private sponsorship?

The following persons and groups are ineligible to participate in the sponsorship of refugees:

  • Persons and groups liable for a sponsorship undertaking that remains in default.
  • Persons convicted in Canada of the offence of murder or an offence set out in Schedule I or II of the Corrections and Conditional Release Act, regardless of whether the offence was prosecuted by indictment, and a period of five years has not elapsed since the completion of the sentence imposed under the Criminal Code of Canada.
  • Persons convicted of an offence outside Canada that, if committed in Canada, would constitute an offence referred to above, if a period of five years has not elapsed since the completion of the sentence imposed under a foreign law.
  • Persons subject to a removal order.
  • Persons subject to revocation proceedings under the Citizenship Act.
  • Persons detained in any penitentiary, jail, reformatory or prison.
  • Persons in default of court-ordered support payments.

2.5 How is a sponsoring group formed?

Sponsorship Agreement Holders (SAH): Interested organizations can request an application to become a SAH by writing to PSR-PPPR@cic.gc.ca.

SAHs must be incorporated organizations. Generally, new SAH applicants have sponsorship experience and expect to sponsor more than two refugee cases each year. Applicant organizations must have personnel and finances available to ensure the settlement needs of the sponsored refugees are in place before their arrival.

Constituent Groups (CG) are usually members of the organization holding the sponsorship agreement. However, each SAH sets its own criteria for recognizing CGs. Interested parties should contact a SAH directly to inquire about sponsoring under its auspices.

Groups of Five (G5) are at least five individuals who are eligible to sponsor and willing to contribute to the requirements of sponsorship. Each group member must complete a personal financial profile form and the group must collectively complete a settlement plan and financial assessment.

A Community Sponsor (CS) is an organization that decides to participate in refugee sponsorship and provides statements demonstrating the ability to meet the required financial obligations.

Cosponsor: Interested individuals should contact a SAH, a CG or a CS in their area to inquire about partnering in the private sponsorship of a refugee. Each SAH, CG or CS has its own procedures for screening and approving a cosponsor as well as for establishing the division of responsibilities in the settlement plan. The decision to accept an individual or organization as a cosponsor is the choice of the SAH, CG or CS who submits the undertaking.

The sponsorship kit for SAH/CGs, G5s and CSs as well as the IMM 6000 (overseas application kit), which the refugee must complete, can be obtained on the CIC website.

2.6 What are the responsibilities of the sponsoring group?

Sponsoring groups agree to provide the refugees with care, lodging, settlement assistance and support for the duration of the sponsorship period. Normally, this is 12 months starting from the refugee's arrival in Canada or until the refugee becomes self-sufficient, whichever comes first. In exceptional circumstances, the visa officer may determine that the refugee requires more time to become established in Canada and will ask the sponsoring group to extend the sponsorship period to a maximum of 36 months. The sponsoring group has the option of refusing the request for an extension of the sponsorship period. However, the sponsoring group risks having the case refused as a result.

Private sponsors 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.

It is not possible to sponsor only one member of a family unit. The sponsorship undertaking should name all immediate and dependent family members listed on the Application for Permanent Residence, whether they are accompanying the principal applicant to Canada or may follow later under the provisions of the One Year Window (OYW) program as described in section 2.10. The sponsoring group is obliged to provide support to all family members listed on the undertaking, regardless of the timing of their arrival in Canada. The sponsor is responsible for supporting the non-accompanying family members under the same terms as in the original settlement plan, unless the principal refugee applicant is now self-sufficient and able to provide adequately for his or her family members. De facto dependants should also be included in the sponsorship but should be named on a separate undertaking as described in section 2.12.

2.7 How much financial support will be required?

The sponsorship application kit provides details of how much financial support will likely be needed to meet the sponsorship obligations as well as advice on how to determine whether a group has sufficient funds. Although the cost of living varies from centre to centre across the country, the Sponsorship Cost Table and the In-Kind Deduction Table included in the sponsorship kits can help to estimate the annual settlement cost for sponsoring a refugee or refugee family. One rule of thumb is that sponsors are expected to provide a level of support that is at least equal to that of the prevailing rates for social assistance in the expected community of settlement.

The sponsoring group may establish a trust fund for the sponsorship but may not accept or require payment of funds from a refugee for submitting a sponsorship.

The financial support of sponsors is given on the basis of need. Refugees are expected to contribute to their own settlement costs from funds they bring to Canada or earn during their sponsorship period.

Since sponsorship is meant to lead to self-sufficiency, sponsoring groups are encouraged to help refugees find employment but cannot force refugees to accept any job offered. Sponsors are, however, permitted to adjust their financial support downward if a refugee refuses to take a reasonable job offer. Finding employment within the sponsorship period is not always possible, so the sponsoring group is advised not to count on employment income when securing funds for the sponsorship.

2.8 Are there any extra costs?

Refugees are usually given a loan from the Government of Canada to pay for their medical examinations overseas and their transportation to Canada. In cases where the visa office has concerns about a refugee's ability to repay a loan, the sponsoring group may be asked to pay a portion of, or all these costs. Examples may be sponsorships for elderly persons who are unlikely to enter the labour market or sponsorships of unaccompanied minor children.

Payment for transportation and other costs from the contributions fund is reserved for certain cases within the Joint Assistance Sponsorship (JAS) component (see Additional Sponsorship Opportunities) where a visa officer is of the opinion that the refugee would be unable to repay the loan.

2.9 How is a match made between a sponsoring group and a refugee?

There are two ways to achieve a match between a sponsoring group and a refugee.

1) Sponsor-referred: The sponsoring group puts forward the name of a refugee or refugee family it is interested in sponsoring. The group may have obtained the referral from an overseas contact, a friend, the relative of a member of the organization or elsewhere. Sponsorship Agreement Holders/Constituent Groups, Groups of Five and Community Sponsors submit the sponsorship application on behalf of the sponsor-referred refugee to the CPO-W.

A group that would like to refer a refugee applicant for sponsorship should:

  • consider whether or not the person is likely to be eligible for the private sponsorship program. (See Who may be sponsored? and Who may not be sponsored?) Ineligible applicants will be refused;
  • determine whether the person has relatives or friends in Canada. In most cases, refugees should be resettled in their relative's community.

2) Visa office-referred: The Matching Centre at CIC national headquarters in Ottawa administers an inventory of visa office-referred (VOR) cases that have already been selected but for which CIC works to find a private sponsor to match with the refugee identified initially by the United Nations Refugee Agency. VOR cases are normally ready to travel to Canada within one to four months of being matched with a sponsor. However, delays may occur in some travel-ready cases because of problems in arranging exit permits, travel documents, etc. Once the sponsorship is signed, the local Citizenship and Immigration Centre works with the Matching Centre and the visa office to provide the sponsor with more accurate information regarding departure and arrival dates, as well as any particular settlement needs that might exist in transit and in the first few weeks after the refugees have arrived in Canada.

Please refer to section 3. Additional Sponsorship Opportunities for more information on VORs, including the Blended VOR (BVOR) program.

2.10 What is a non-accompanying family member and the One Year Window (OYW) of Opportunity?

Non-accompanying family members are spouses and dependent children of the principal applicant who have been separated from the family unit and will not be travelling with the rest of the family. De facto dependants (see definition in section 2.12) cannot be identified as non-accompanying family members.

If separated family members submit an application for permanent residence to a visa office within one year of the principal applicant's arrival in Canada, they will be processed on an expedited basis as part of the same application. In order to qualify, the principal applicant must identify the non-accompanying family member on the IMM 0008 application before departing for Canada. If the application is submitted after the one-year period has expired, the family member will not benefit from the provisions of the OYW. These applications are processed at the visa office responsible for the area in which the family members reside, even if that differs from the visa office where the principal applicant was processed.

Sponsoring groups must include separated family members on the undertaking and also ensure that the principal applicant identifies them on the IMM 0008 application as non-accompanying family members. Family members who are not identified on the IMM 0008 application will not be eligible for the OYW or for sponsorship under the Family Class at a later date.

To expedite processing, the sponsor or family member in Canada can send the IMM 6000 application to the family members abroad and advise them to complete the application forms and gather supporting documents. They need to indicate on their application (by checking the appropriate box at the top of page 1 of Schedule 2) that they are applying under the OYW program.

2.11 Sponsorship of non-accompanying family members

In cases where the non-accompanying family member was included on the original undertaking of the principal applicant, the visa office will confirm through the CPO-W that the support of the sponsor is still available. The period of sponsorship provided to the non-accompanying family member will be the same as that provided to the rest of the family and will begin when the family member arrives in Canada. If the sponsor no longer has adequate financial means or is otherwise unable or unwilling to fulfil the sponsorship commitment, and the principal applicant cannot support the non-accompanying family member, the application is likely to be refused unless another sponsor can be found.

Where a non-accompanying family member is not included on the original undertaking but is included on the principal applicant's IMM 0008, the visa office will ask CPO-W to contact the sponsor before processing the principal applicant and accompanying family members to ensure that the sponsorship is extended to the non-accompanying family member listed on the IMM 0008. CPO-W will request the sponsoring group to submit an IMM 5618 (Request to Add Dependant(s) to a Private Sponsorship Undertaking) and the supporting documentation by a certain deadline to demonstrate their willingness and ability to support the entire family.

If CPO-W approves the request to add a dependant to an application, the IMM 5618 form will be added as an addendum to the sponsorship undertaking and the case will continue to be processed overseas. An updated undertaking is not required.

If the sponsoring group is not able to demonstrate their willingness or ability to provide support to the additional family member, they may be given an opportunity to locate a replacement sponsoring group. If a replacement sponsor is identified, the new sponsoring group would be required to submit a sponsorship undertaking for the entire family to CPO-W. The new undertaking replaces the first and the original group would no longer be considered the sponsor.

If the request to add a dependant to the application is refused and a replacement sponsor cannot be identified, the principal refugee's application will likely be refused.

2.12 What is a de facto dependant?

A de facto dependant is a person considered by the refugee family to be an integral member of the family unit, but who does not meet CIC's definition of a family member. For example, an elderly aunt who has always lived with the principal applicant may be a de facto dependant. Such individuals should be included in the sponsorship.

To be considered as a member of the family unit, such individuals must satisfy the visa officer that they are dependent on the family unit in which membership is claimed. The dependency may be emotional or economic and will often be a combination of the two. Such people would normally, but not exclusively, live with the principal applicant as members of the same household. Sponsors must submit a separate sponsorship undertaking for de facto dependants. They should, however, identify the name and date of birth of the principal applicant in the Multiple Undertakings section of the undertaking to ensure that de facto dependants and the rest of the family unit are processed concurrently. De facto dependants must be refugees in their own right and meet all statutory requirements. Where the de facto dependant does not qualify as a refugee in their own right, they may be eligible for humanitarian and compassionate consideration. Persons who form part of the family unit will be examined while keeping in mind the goal of keeping family units together.

De facto dependants must also complete separate applications. In addition, Schedule 2 of the overseas refugee application kit (IMM 6000) includes a section in which the principal applicant is asked to identify the de facto dependants who are co-applying.

For all visa office-referred cases and cases where the sponsor did not list de facto dependants identified by the principal applicant, visa officers will contact the CPO-W to ensure that sponsoring groups are prepared to assume responsibility for the settlement of the de facto dependants with the rest of the family unit.

De facto dependants are not eligible under the OYW as they do not meet the definition of family member described above.

Examples of persons who may qualify as de facto dependants:

  • An unmarried adult daughter in cultures where it is normal for an unmarried adult daughter to remain dependent until she marries.
  • A widowed sister or sister-in-law in a culture where it is normal for the applicant to take on responsibility for her care and sustenance when she has no other means of support.
  • Nieces and nephews whose parents have been killed or are missing. In the case of nieces and nephews, sponsors must take into consideration the best interests of the child. To the extent possible, sponsors should work with appropriate authorities in that field to try to avoid any disputes with respect to custody or guardianship.
  • Parents of any age living with the principal applicant and without other children with whom they could reside or without means of support other than the principal applicant.
  • Elderly relatives who have lived with the principal applicant or who are solely, or for the most part, dependent on the applicant for care, shelter, etc.

Examples of persons who may not qualify as de facto dependants:

  • A married sister living with the applicant, who has a husband residing in another known location, unless it is demonstrated to the visa officer that the sister cannot rely on her husband for support.
  • A married daughter and her husband living with the principal applicant, unless they can demonstrate to the visa officer that they are completely dependent on the principal applicant for financial support.
  • An elderly parent who normally lives with the principal applicant but who may reside with other children from time to time.
  • A person who has been taking care of the principal applicant's children and living in the household for an extended period (more than six months) but who is not without family of his or her own.

2.13 Addition of a dependant to an application

Sponsoring groups should be aware of all family members, accompanying or not, at the time of the original sponsorship application and they should include them on the sponsorship undertaking. However, instances can arise where a family member must be added to the application after it has been submitted to CPO-W but before the visa has been issued (for example, due to the birth of a child or a marriage).

The principal applicant or their sponsoring group in Canada must inform the responsible visa office of any changes to family configuration, including births, deaths and marriages. In cases where a dependant must be added to the principal refugee applicant's application, and that application is still in process overseas, CPO-W will request the sponsoring group to submit an IMM 5618 (Request to Add Dependant(s) to a Private Sponsorship Undertaking) and the supporting documentation by a certain deadline to demonstrate their willingness and ability to support the entire family.

If CPO-W approves the request to add a dependant to an application, the IMM 5618 form will be added as an addendum to the sponsorship undertaking and the case will continue to be processed overseas. An updated undertaking is not required.

If the sponsoring group is not able to demonstrate their willingness or ability to provide support to the additional family member, they may be given an opportunity to locate a replacement sponsoring group. If a replacement sponsor is identified, the new sponsoring group would be required to submit a sponsorship undertaking for the entire family to CPO-W. The new undertaking replaces the first and the original group would no longer be considered the sponsor.

If the request to add a dependant to the application is refused and a replacement sponsor cannot be identified, the principal refugee's application will likely be refused.

2.14 How does a group begin the sponsorship process?

Once a sponsoring group has been formed, it must obtain the appropriate CIC application kit, which may be ordered from the Call Centre or downloaded from the CIC website. The undertaking completed by the sponsor and the Application for Permanent Residence completed by the refugee must be submitted together with any other relevant documents to the CPO-W at:

Centralized Processing Office – Winnipeg
400 – 25 Forks Market Road
Winnipeg, MB
R3C 4S9

The sponsorship kit includes the program information and instructions on completing the following forms:

  • the undertaking to sponsor;
  • the settlement plan that outlines the settlement and financial arrangements in place to support the sponsored refugee;
  • the financial assessment forms for Groups of Five and Community Sponsors; and
  • the Document Checklist.

The Application for Permanent Residence kit includes:

  • the Instruction Guide on how to complete the forms;
  • the Application for Permanent Residence (Generic application form for Canada IMM 0008);
  • the Additional Dependants/Declaration;
  • the Schedule A–Background/Declaration;
  • the Schedule 2–Refugees outside Canada;
  • the Use of Representative form; and
  • the Document Checklist.

2.15 IMM 6000 application kit

Refugee applicants are required to complete all relevant application forms contained in the IMM 6000 kit (Application for Permanent Residence in Canada: Convention Refugees Abroad and Humanitarian-Protected Persons Abroad). The IMM 6000 includes the IMM 0008, Schedule A, Schedule 2 and the Authorization to Release Information forms. Applicants are also expected to gather all supporting documentation required for their application. (Refer to the Checklist in Appendix A of the IMM 6000.)

The IMM 6000 may be obtained by contacting the Call Centre or downloading it from the CIC website. Only after a visa office has received an approved sponsorship undertaking and a complete Application for Permanent Residence form from the CPO-W is an interview with the applicant arranged.

For sponsor-referred cases, there are two methods by which the sponsorship undertaking and the Application for Permanent Residence in Canada may be submitted to CPO-W for processing:

  • The sponsoring groups send the IMM 6000 kit to the refugees they wish to sponsor. The refugee applicant completes the kit and returns it to the sponsor, along with supporting documents and photographs. The sponsor ensures that the forms have been completely filled and that no required information is missing, before submitting at the same time, the IMM 6000 forms, supporting documents, photographs and the sponsorship undertaking form to the CPO-W.

    or

  • The sponsoring groups send the completed sponsorship undertaking form to the refugees overseas they wish to sponsor. The refugee applicants send the completed IMM 6000 kit, along with supporting documents and photographs, together with the sponsorship undertaking form to the CPO-W.

The first submission method has the advantage of reducing the processing time overseas as well as providing sponsors with an opportunity to review the content and completeness of the refugee's application before it is submitted.

Supporting information

Sponsoring groups may provide additional information to the visa office in support of the applicant's need for protection. Information provided should generally be non-personal and written by organizations or individuals who are aware of the current situation in the country the applicant is fleeing or now residing in.

Examples of information that can help the visa officer in making a determination on the applicant's need for protection include written accounts from individuals who have fled similar situations, recent media reports on the persecution of persons with similar attributes, and reports of government legislation affecting the status of refugees in countries of asylum. Supporting information must be directly relevant to the refugee's need for protection.

Sponsoring groups are further encouraged to include their settlement plan for refugees who they feel may be considered difficult to settle. This is intended to inform the visa office that the sponsoring group is prepared to cope with any special needs the refugees may have.

If sponsoring groups wish to provide a Sponsorship Rationale, a separate sheet of paper may be attached to the application to provide additional information as to why:

  • the principal refugee applicant is being referred for protection;
  • resettlement is the only durable solution available to him/her; and
  • Canada is the most logical choice as a destination.

This section can assist sponsors in screening their applications so that they can determine, to the best of their knowledge, whether the applicant meets one of the definitions of refugee. Ultimately, the final decision on whether an applicant is both eligible and admissible rests with the visa officer.

The submission of supporting information is optional and designed to help sponsors show why the person is in need of resettlement and what arrangements have been made in Canada to help the refugee settle.

2.16 How is the application processed?

The Centralized Processing Office in Winnipeg (CPO-W) is CIC's contact point for information on processing and settlement issues pertaining to private group sponsorships. Upon receipt of a sponsorship application, the CPO-W will:

  • review the sponsorship undertaking to ensure that it is complete and meets the eligibility requirements;
  • review the Application for Permanent Residence (only for completeness);
  • acknowledge receipt of the undertaking to the sponsoring group;
  • inform the sponsoring group of any decisions related to the application;
  • (for sponsor-referred cases) forward the approved undertaking and the completed application for permanent residence to the visa office responsible for the area where the refugee lives;
  • (for all visa office-referred [VOR] and Joint Assistance Sponsorship cases) review, assess as well as process the sponsorship undertaking once received from the sponsor and forward a copy of the approved sponsorship undertaking to the Matching Centre; and
  • provide the sponsoring group with processing updates.

Canadian visa offices process applications for permanent residence submitted by refugees living abroad. The visa offices work closely with international service providers who deal with refugees around the world and also maintain contact with the CPO-W. The visa office will:

  • review the application for permanent residence and pre-screen for basic eligibility requirements;
  • notify the sponsor when a selection decision has been made (see 2.17);
  • conduct an interview to determine if the applicant is a member of the Convention Refugees Abroad Class or Country of Asylum Class;
  • assess the applicant's ability to establish in Canada;
  • initiate medical, criminal and security checks and review the results to ensure the applicant is admissible to Canada;
  • (for all VOR sponsorships) send a completed VOR referral form 1 to the Matching Centre so that the profile can be added to the online refugee profile directory;
  • issue a loan for transportation and medical costs;
  • issue a permanent resident visa when a positive final decision is made;
  • make travel arrangements for the refugee in collaboration with the International Organization for Migration (if applicable);
  • provide the refugee with orientation and travel information in collaboration with international service providers; and
  • advise the Matching Centre of the date and place that the refugees will arrive in Canada.

The applicable local CIC office in Canada will:

  • provide the sponsoring group with the names of agencies offering immigrant support services;
  • register the refugees for the Interim Federal Health Program (IFHP); and
  • monitor the settlement of the refugees after arrival.

2.17 How can I obtain information on my sponsorship?

Undertaking stage: the CPO-W will communicate with sponsors at two stages of processing:

  1. An Acknowledgment of Receipt (AOR) letter will be sent to the sponsor once the application has been verified for completeness and the file is created. This letter will include the CIC file number (G number), which the sponsor can use to check the status of the application in the Electronic Client Application System (E-CAS). CPO-W will send the acknowledgment letter within 30 business days of receiving a complete application.

    Incomplete will be returned to the party (either the sponsor or the refugee) that submitted it.

  2. An approval or refusal letter will be sent to the sponsor once an officer has reviewed the Sponsorship Undertaking and rendered a decision. This letter will include a link where sponsors can find processing times for their applications overseas.

Sponsorship groups may submit application status enquiries by emailing CPOW-BTCW@cic.gc.ca only when the:

  • sponsoring undertaking is still under assessment in Canada; and
  • information is not available on E-CAS.

Overseas application stage: Visa offices are required to send updates to sponsors at two stages of processing the overseas application:

  1. when there is an approximate date for the selection interview; and
  2. when the selection decision has been made (if negative, the refusal reasons will be provided; if positive, the update will include the average time to departure).

Sponsorship groups may submit a Case Specific Enquiry form to the responsible visa office to inquire on the status of the Application for Permanent Residence when:

  • the application has been sent to the responsible visa office abroad (as indicated in E-CAS or via confirmation letter from CPO-W);
  • the information is not available on E-CAS; and
  • the estimated mission processing times have been exceeded.

Visa officers will only respond to case status enquiries when estimated processing times have been exceeded and the information is not available in E-CAS.

2.18 What are the refugee's responsibilities?

Application and admissibility requirements: Refugees must complete the application forms contained in the IMM 6000 kit and gather all supporting documentation before sending the entire package back to either the sponsoring group or to the CPO-W, whichever option they choose (see 2.15). During their interview, they must provide accurate and complete information about their refugee claim and their circumstances in their country of asylum. If selected at the interview stage, the refugees must visit a Panel Physician to receive medical clearance for travel to Canada.

The visa office will provide applicants with instructions for the medical examination. The refugee applicants will also undergo and need to pass criminality and security checks. The refugee applicants may be required to produce supplemental documentation to finalize these checks.

Medical costs and costs of travel to Canada: Refugee applicants are responsible for the medical and travel costs for themselves and all dependent family members. Two loan options are available to refugees who are unable to cover these costs at the time of application:

  1. transportation loan: to cover transportation costs up to and including arrival in Canada; and
  2. admissibility loan: to cover the costs of overseas medical services.

Settlement responsibilities: The newly arrived refugee is expected to make every effort to become self-sufficient as soon as possible after arriving in Canada. This includes taking advantage of language classes as well as other settlement services and actively seeking employment.

2.19 When will the refugee arrive?

Sponsor-referred cases: Considerable time can pass between the time an application is made and the time the refugees arrive in Canada. The selection process for these refugees can fluctuate with the volume of applications received at the visa offices. Processing times in each visa office for the past 12 months are available online. Sponsors are encouraged to consult this link regularly to help them plan for the arrival of sponsored refugees.

Blended VOR and other VOR cases: These refugees are usually travel-ready by the time a match has been made with a private sponsorship group in Canada and usually arrive within one to four months after the CPO-W has approved the sponsorship.

The sponsoring group will generally receive a Notification of Arrival Transmission at least 10 business days before the refugee arrives in Canada.

2.20 Other useful information

Coverage of health-care costs: Depending on the province of destination, the waiting period for provincial health insurance coverage can be as much as 90 days for new permanent residents. However, in most jurisdictions, resettled refugees may be eligible from the day of arrival. Privately sponsored refugees should apply for provincial or territorial health insurance as soon as possible.

The Interim Federal Health Program (IFHP) provides limited, temporary health coverage for specific groups of people in Canada. The coverage is paid by CIC. The IFHP is a payer of last resort when the beneficiary has no access to any provincial or territorial health-care coverage or private health coverage for that service or product. Privately sponsored refugees who are not yet eligible for provincial or territorial health insurance may be covered by the IFHP for physician and hospital care during the waiting period.

Privately sponsored refugees may also be covered by the IFHP for vaccines and medications to protect public health or public safety for as long as they are under a private sponsorship. Those who also receive governmental resettlement assistance in the form of income support may be eligible for additional medications as well as other health-care products and services while they receive income support or while they are under private sponsorship. Details about the IFHP, including how to apply and the scope of coverage, can be found on the CIC website.

Canada child tax benefit: Most resettled refugee parents with children under the age of 18 qualify for a monthly payment to help them with the cost of raising their children. For more information or to obtain the application form for this benefit, applicants should contact the nearest tax services office, visit the Canada Revenue Agency website or call 1-800-387-1193 toll-free.

Trust accounts: Some groups establish trust accounts for the funds collected, raised or donated for the settlement of sponsored refugees. CIC neither promotes nor objects to the use of trust accounts. However, groups should use caution in ensuring that the funds in the account and all interest accrued are used only for the direct settlement costs of the refugees for whom the funds were collected. Groups must be able to account for all expenditures. To ensure this, the account can be registered in the name of the sponsoring group with a note specifying that the money is in trust for the sponsored refugee. For withdrawals, the account should require the signature of at least two group members.

Permanent resident card: Any new permanent resident to Canada will be issued a permanent resident (PR) card. These cards are valid for five years. Upon arrival in Canada, the newly arrived refugee will usually be asked to provide a mailing address in Canada to which the PR card will be sent.

A refugee who is not able to provide an address will be given an IMM 5456 (Address Notification–Permanent Resident Card). This form must be completed and faxed back to the PR Card Processing Centre at 1-902-564-7317.

Applicants can also submit their address to CIC in two other ways:

  1. by calling the Call Centre at 1-888-242-2100 (toll-free); or
  2. by using the Online Address Update service.

To avoid a $50 processing fee, the refugee's permanent address in Canada must be provided to CIC within 180 days after entering Canada.

Secondary migration and self-destination: Sponsors are encouraged to maintain open lines of communication with both the refugee and the CPO-W throughout the sponsorship period.

It may happen that, at some point during the sponsorship period, the refugee either fails to establish in or decides to move out of the sponsor's community. This is referred to as self-destination or secondary migration. If this happens to a group sponsoring under a Sponsorship Agreement Holder (SAH), the group is advised to discuss the situation with the SAH.

Scenarios:

  • If the refugee is able to support himself or herself in the new community for the remainder of the sponsorship period, the sponsoring group has no further obligations.
  • If the sponsoring group is willing to maintain the sponsorship from a distance, the group should notify the CPO-W of the refugee's relocation and continue the sponsorship.
  • If the sponsoring group wishes to transfer the sponsorship to another group in the new community or if the group is not willing or able to continue providing material assistance to the refugee in the new location, the CPO-W must be contacted immediately. (Note: If the former, the SAH is expected to make the initial contact with another sponsoring group.)

In a transfer of sponsorship, the new group signs a sponsorship undertaking for the remainder of the sponsorship period. The new undertaking replaces the first and the original group is no longer considered the sponsor. Where the sponsor has decided that it will not or cannot continue to support the refugee in the new community, the sponsorship is in danger of breakdown.

In this case, the local Citizenship and Immigration Centre, the sponsoring group (including the SAH if a Constituent Group is involved) and the refugee will meet to try to resolve the sponsorship breakdown and, if applicable, to ascertain responsibility. The three-way meeting will also address the ongoing needs of the refugee for the remainder of the sponsorship period and the capacity of the sponsor to support the refugee under the changed circumstances. Where there is no agreement on who is ultimately responsible for the breakdown, the local Citizenship and Immigration Centre makes the final determination. If the sponsor is found responsible, the group must continue to support the refugee in the new community. If it is not responsible, it is released from all further obligations.

It is important to remember that unless the local Citizenship and Immigration Centre issues a formal notice of sponsorship breakdown, (which effectively cancels the sponsorship undertaking) sponsored refugees are not entitled to obtain income support through provincial or municipal social assistance programs or the Resettlement Assistance Program (RAP) during the sponsorship period (normally 12 months). Furthermore, sponsoring groups may, under certain circumstances, be liable for reimbursing the government concerned for income support issued to refugees under the group's sponsorship. For more information on sponsorship breakdown, consult Chapter 3 of CIC's in-Canada processing manual (IP 3) or the Sponsorship Agreement, both of which are available on the CIC website.

Sponsorship Withdrawals

Sponsorship withdrawal is the cancellation of a sponsorship undertaking before the permanent residence visa has been issued. It is the last option when all other attempts to fulfil the conditions of the sponsorship have failed or when situations have changed.

Sponsoring groups may not withdraw an undertaking after a visa has been issued. In such cases, sponsorship dispute and breakdown protocols would be initiated following the applicant's arrival in Canada.

Sponsorship withdrawal requests must be sent to the CPO-W and must include the reason(s) for requesting a withdrawal.

The CPO-W will assess whether the reason for requesting the withdrawal is acceptable or unacceptable.

In cases of withdrawal, sponsors are expected to locate a new sponsoring group if feasible. Examples of where it is not feasible to locate a new sponsorship group include:

  • the refugee having found another durable solution;
  • new personal information being gained about the refugee that makes the sponsorship no longer viable; or
  • the refugee having made no contact with the visa office to return requested information or to respond to subsequent efforts by the visa office to contact the refugee.

In cases where a sponsor is still required, the original sponsor must inform CPO-W in writing, whether or not a new sponsorship group could be located. If a new sponsorship group could not be located, the refugee's application will likely be refused.

Requests for withdrawal that are determined to be unacceptable may have negative consequences on future sponsorship activities of the organization. Depending on the circumstances and reasons for the withdrawal, sponsorship agreements can be either suspended or cancelled. Withdrawals that are determined not to have been the fault of the SAH will not result in suspension or cancellation of the Sponsorship Agreement.

For more information on sponsorship withdrawal, consult Chapter 3 of CIC's in-Canada processing manual (IP 3) or the Sponsorship Agreement, both of which are available on the CIC website.

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