Here at the Refugee and Immigrant Advisory Council we try to do our best to “simplify” the information needed and make it more user-friendly or readable for those seeking our help.

Whit the recent developments around the world, with millions of persons fleeing persecution, generalized violence, natural disasters and hunger, the topic of enabling common citizens to act as part of the solution, via the Private Sponsorship of Refugees initiative, has become more frequent.

In order for a refugee to come to Canada, they need a sponsor from Canada to provide both financial support and settlement support for one year as the refugee adapts to life to Canada.

Private sponsorship of refugees to Canada is considered a group activity. Private sponsors make a humanitarian commitment of their personal time, energy, and often their money to assist an individual or a family in need of resettlement. Volunteering to assist refugees is a humanitarian commitment and a way of responding to the injustices in the world.

The sponsoring process begins with the formation of a sponsoring group.

While each sponsoring group has the same basic obligations towards the sponsored refugees, the composition of sponsoring groups can vary widely.  You may already be part of an organized group or the group may have come together solely for the purpose of sponsoring one particular refugee family. Regardless of the type of sponsoring group you are in, the sponsorship process will be the same.

Taking into account both the application process and the sponsorship period, it is safe to assume that sponsoring group members will work together intensively for an extended period of time.  Many people will eventually play a role in the settlement of the refugees, but one of the first steps is deciding who will be part of the actual signing sponsorship group and who will take on the official responsibility of signing the undertaking/application to sponsor.

The committed support usually begins on the date the sponsored refugee arrives in Canada. The sponsorship continues for a period of one year (can be longer in special cases) or before has the refugee becomes self-supporting, whichever comes first.

The sponsorship process can be summarized as:

  • Forming your sponsoring group
  • Request detailed explanation of the sponsorship program from a local organization or the national training program
  • Preparing and submitting your group’s sponsorship application
  • Request assistance with the completion of all necessary planning and filling of immigration forms from a local organization or the national training program
  • The preparation of the refugees’ file overseas
  • Expenses and loans
  • Visas, notification of arrival, travel and landing of the sponsored

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 Residencecompleted 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

When signing a Sponsorship Undertaking, a sponsor assumes the following responsibilities with respect to the refugee individual or family:

Reception:

Meet the refugee upon arrival at the airport and welcome them in the community; provide orientation to life in Canada

Lodging:

The sponsoring group is also responsible for providing:

  • furnishings,
  • clothing
  • and household supplies upon arrival, either in cash or in kind.

Care:

  • Provide food, clothing, local transportation costs, heat fuel and other basic necessities of life
  • Settlement assistance and support by helping refugees to complete required forms including health insurance, social insurance, if appropriate, a driver’s license and child tax benefits;
  • learn English or French (e.g.: get into an ESL/LINC or FSL/CLINC class);
  • locate interpreters
  • help them to understand the rights and responsibilities of permanent residents;
  • find employment;
  • access resources (e.g.: community support groups, settlement services, doctors and dentists);
  • register children in school and guide them and their family in dealings with the school system;
  • locate a family physician and dentist;
  • become independent;
  • and of course, the sponsoring group must provide ongoing friendship and emotional support and understanding to help the family through the transition from refugee to active resident.

Contingency plan

A contingency plan is an important element to include in your settlement plan. It is a backup plan to show what the sponsoring group will do if the original settlement plan does not work out. For example, if the refugee family is not able to live with the person who is providing the housing in-kind, how will the sponsoring group raise additional funds?

The Sponsoring Group must:

  • have the financial capacity to fulfill the sponsorship;
  • Provide evidence of ability to provide necessary emotional/social supports to refugees and their families;
  • and be based in the community where the refugee is expected to live. ;
  • Once approved, each community group can submit up to two sponsorship undertakings a year; each time they wish to sponsor, Community Sponsors need to undergo a financial and settlement plan assessment by their local Citizenship Immigration Canada (CIC) office.

FINANCIAL SUPPORT

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.  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.

Although the cost of living varies from one region to another, the following table can assist the sponsoring group in estimating the cost involved in sponsoring a refugee family for 12 months. The required financial resources indicated in the Sponsorship Cost Table are roughly equivalent to local social assistance rate figures.

Sponsorship Cost Table

Family Size 12 Months of Income Support Start-up Costs Estimated Total Annual Settlement Cost ($)
1 9,800 2,800 12,600
2 16,800 4,400 21,200
3 17,700 5,300 23,000
4 20,000 7,000 27,000
5 22,500 7,200 29,700
6 24,500 8,000 32,500
Additional member 1,550 1,000 2,550

http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/information/applications/guides/5413ETOC.asp

Start-up costs are a one-time payment and might include:

  • household items
  • furniture
  • linens
  • food staples
  • (winter) clothing
  • deposit for utilities
  • phone installation
  • first month’s rent

Refugees are usually given a loan from the Government of Canada to pay for their Id documents, 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.

Several factors may reduce the amount of financial support that the sponsoring group must provide. Examples of these factors may include in-kind donations and financial resources the sponsored refugee brings to Canada. The chart below provides an estimated value for certain in-kind donations the group can organize events or calls by social media or other means. For updated information on the cost of sponsorship, contact your local Citizenship and Immigration Centre or the Refugee Sponsorship Training Program (RSTP).

In-Kind Deduction Table ($)

Family Size Shelter Clothing Furniture Start-up Costs (Household Needs) School Start-up Costs Food Staples
1 6,000 500 1,500 325 175
2 7,100 1,000 2,000 350 250
3 7,800 1,375 2,500 375 325
4 8,400 1,750 3,000 400 400
5 9,600 2,125 3,500 425 475
6 9,600 2,500 4,000 450 550
For additional member, add 900 375 500 25 150 per child between ages 4-21 75

http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/information/applications/guides/5413ETOC.asp

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.

Forms And Links

General information for all applicants

Forms

http://www.cic.gc.ca/English/information/applications/conref.asp

 

References and Sources:

Rstp Guides and Handbooks www.rstp.ca

CIC Private Sponsorship of Refugees Guide

Frequently Asked Questions

http://www.united-church.ca/humanrights/refugees/faq

 

NOTE: As of June 1, 2012, CIC offices now offer in-person services by appointment only. You can request an appointment by emailing: question@cic.gc.ca. Provide your name and client identifier when submitting an email.