How are refugees sponsored for resettlement to Ontario?
Refugees may be sponsored under one four resettlement programs offered by the Government of Canada:
1. Privately Sponsored Refugees (PSR) Program:
Currently only the program in the world in which private groups can sponsor refugees. The financial support and settlement support for the refugees comes from private sponsors, not the government, for the sponsorship period (typically one-year). For the most part, privately sponsored refugees have been chosen by sponsors themselves. For example, a family member of a refugee who is living here in Canada, or perhaps an organization in Canada that has been made aware of a specific refugee or refugee family that they would like to sponsor. In these cases, the group or organization submits an application to IRCC to ask them to sponsor the refugees that they have identified.
2. Blended Visa Office Referred (BVOR) Program:
A cost-sharing program between the Federal Government and private sponsors. Half of the year, the Federal Government provides refugees with income support. For the remaining half of the year, private sponsors provide income support. Private sponsors also responsible for providing the initial start-up costs associated with sponsorship. All of the settlement support is provided by the private sponsoring group. The refugees that can access this program are referred to IRCC by UNHCR. In other words, if you know someone who is a refugee and you want to sponsor them, you cannot apply for this program, as the refugees that are eligible for this program are identified and referred to IRCC by UNHCR.
3. Joint Assistance Sponsorship (JAS) Program:
Only for refugees with special needs that require extra support, e.g. disabilities; victims of torture and suffering from severe trauma; or, very large families. Sponsorship period is two years due to special needs of the refugees in this program. Fully funded by the Federal Government. Initially, the refugees are provided with settlement support by government-funded Service Providing Organizations (SPOs) under the government-funded Resettlement Assistance Program (RAP). After the initial settlement, private sponsors are responsible for providing the refugees with settlement support. Under this program, refugees are identified and referred to IRCC by UNHCR.
4. Government Assisted Refugees (GAR):
Fully funded by the Federal Government. Settlement support by SPOs, under the government-funded RAP. Under this program, refugees are identified and referred to IRCC by UNHCR.
Which groups can sponsor refugees for resettlement to Ontario?
The following groups may submit a private sponsorship to Sponsor Refugees to Ontario.
1. Sponsorship Agreement Holder (SAH):
SAHs are incorporated organizations that have signed an agreement with Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) to sponsor refugees. SAHs can sponsor directly or through groups they have authorized to sponsor; these groups are called Constituent Groups. SAHs can also sponsor with individuals, known as Co-Sponsors. There are currently 105 SAHs across Canada (excluding Quebec).
2. Groups of Five:
A Group of Five is a group of five or more Canadian citizens or Permanent Residents over the age of 18 whose members all reside in the community where the sponsored refugees are expected to settle.
3. Community Sponsors:
A Community Sponsor can be any Canadian organization, association or corporation, which is based in the community where the refugees are expected to settle. The organization must be registered in some capacity, but does not need to be incorporated.
Are there any Differences between Sponsoring Refugees in Ontario and Other Provinces in Canada?
What are the responsibilities of Ontario sponsors?
The responsibilities of a sponsoring group can be categorized into two areas: responsibilities that should be carried out before the arrival of refugees and responsibilities that should be implemented after the arrival of refugees.
To avoid rejection, raising false hopes, and to save precious time and resources, sponsoring groups have a duty to pre-screen requests for refugee sponsorship.
Sponsors should only submit cases that meet the eligibility and admissibility requirements of the Private Sponsorship of Refugee Sponsorship Program. Sponsors are expected to properly and fully complete all sponsorship applications forms and include all required documents before submitting the application to the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) Central Processing Office in Winnipeg (CPO-W).
Additionally, it is important to maintain contact with the refugee applicants throughout the process, which allows sponsors to share information and updates with the refugee applicants. It also enables the sponsoring group and refugee applicant to keep the visa office and the CPO-W informed about any important changes.
Post-arrival duties include, but are not limited to: reception (e.g.: meeting at the airport; welcoming; etc.); orientation (e.g.: to the group, to the new neighbourhood and community, to Ontario); housing (e.g.: arranging for temporary accommodation; helping find permanent accommodation; budgeting for housing expenses); clothing; food; transportation (e.g.: orienting to public transit system; assisting in obtaining driver’s license); language (e.g.: assisting in scheduling language test; finding and registering for appropriate language classes/program); schooling (helping in the registration of children; finding adult education programs/courses); childcare (helping arrange for child care when needed; informing about Canadian childcare practices and customs; sharing information about child protection laws in Ontario); healthcare (e.g.: assisting the refugees with applying for OHIP and IFHP); providing emotional and moral support, and referring them to experts such as mental health professionals and psychiatrists; and, connecting with settlement agencies.
What assistance can the RSTP Ontario team provide to Ontario sponsors?
The RSTP Ontario team provides information to sponsoring groups through workshops and webinars. Topics include: how to sponsor refugees under Private Sponsorship of Refugees Program; settlement responsibilities; application forms; and, managing expectations.
The RSTP Ontario team also provides assistance to sponsors with the sponsorship process, including assistance with completing and reviewing application forms, and responding to any enquirers or questions throughout the sponsorship process.