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, persons who may qualify as refugees for Canada’s refugee and humanitarian resettlement program are grouped into 2 categories, or “classes”: Convention Refugees Abroad and Country of Asylum.
Convention refugee: 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 each of their countries of nationality and is unable or, by reason of that fear, unwilling to avail themselves of the protection of each of those countries, or
- does not have a country of nationality and is outside the country of their former habitual residence and is unable or, by reason of that fear, unwilling to return to that country; and
- is outside Canada
- is seeking resettlement in Canada
- and does not have a prospect of another durable solution, within a reasonable period of time, that is:
- cannot return to their 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.
A member of the Country of Asylum class is any person:
- who is outside all of their countries of nationality or habitual residence
- who has been, and continues to be, seriously and personally affected by civil war, armed conflict or massive violation of human rights in each of those countries
- and does not have a prospect of another durable solution, within a reasonable period of time, that is:
- cannot return to their countries 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
An officer at an overseas IRCC office makes the final decision on whether someone meets 1 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 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 migration 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 migration 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 IRCC 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 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): Incorporated organizations that have signed a formal sponsorship agreement with IRCC. 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 IRCC 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 and signed by their SAH before the undertaking is submitted to the Resettlement Operations Centre in Ottawa (ROC-O).
Groups of Five (G5): 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. These individuals act as guarantors that the necessary support will be provided for the full duration of the sponsorship.
ROC-O 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 in Appendix A of the Guide for Groups of Five to privately sponsor refugees (IMM 2200).
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, association or corporation located in the community where the refugees are expected to settle can make an organizational commitment to sponsor. CSs must undergo financial and settlement plan assessments by ROC-O each time they wish to sponsor. Like G5s, CSs must demonstrate that they are willing and able to commit funds toward the sponsorship in line with the levels established in the Sponsorship Cost Table in Appendix A of the Guide for Community Sponsors to privately sponsor refugees (IMM 2201).
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 (for example, a family member of the sponsored refugee living in Canada) or other organizations. The partner, or co-sponsor, 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 5 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 5 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
Interested organizations can request an application to become a SAH by writing to IRCC.INPSR-PPPRRI.IRCC@cic.gc.ca.
SAHs must be incorporated organizations and must be located in Canada. Generally, new SAH applicants have sponsorship experience and expect to sponsor multiple 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, and must be able to provide financial statements for the most recent 2 year period.
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
At least 5 individuals must be eligible to sponsor and willing to contribute to the requirements of sponsorship. At least 3 group members must contribute funds towards the sponsorship, and each group member contributing funds must complete a personal Financial Profile form (IMM 5373B) (PDF, 101 KB). The sponsoring group must collectively complete a Sponsorship Undertaking and Settlement Plan – Groups of Five (G5) (IMM 5670) (PDF, 2.44 MB).
An organization that decides to participate in refugee sponsorship and provides statements demonstrating the ability to meet the required financial obligations. Individual co-sponsors formally partnering with a CS who are contributing personal income towards the sponsorship must complete a personal Financial Profile Form (IMM 5373B) (PDF, 101 KB). The sponsoring group must collectively complete a Sponsorship Undertaking and Settlement Plan – Community Sponsor (CS) (IMM 5663) (PDF, 2.45 MB).
Interested individuals or organizations 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 co-sponsor as well as for establishing the division of responsibilities in the settlement plan. The decision to accept an individual or organization as a co-sponsor is the choice of the SAH or CS that submits the undertaking.
To apply, use the sponsorship kit for SAH/CGs, G5s or CSs as well as the Application for Convention Refugees Abroad and Humanitarian-protected Persons Abroad (IMM 6000) (overseas application kit), which the refugee must complete.
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 migration 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 everyday activities such as banking services, transportation
- helping in the search for employment
Sponsoring groups must reside, or have representatives, in the expected community of settlement (i.e. in the community where the sponsored refugees will live). The intent is to have a group of persons helping refugees to get established in the community, not one person acting alone. Additional information on residency requirements is available on the Refugee Sponsorships Training Program website.
It is not possible to sponsor only 1 member of a family unit. The Sponsorship Undertaking must name all family members listed on the Application for Permanent Residence, whether they are accompanying the Principal Applicant to Canada or not. In some cases, family members may follow later under the provisions of the One Year Window program (see section 2.12).
Family members include the Principal Applicant and:
- their spouse or common-law partner
- their dependent children
- their spouse or common-law partner’s dependent children
- dependent children of their dependent children (their grandchildren), and
- dependent children of their spouse or common-law partner’s dependent children (their spouse or common-law partner’s grandchildren)
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 applicant is now self-sufficient and able to provide adequately for their family members. De facto dependants (see section 2.13) should also be included in the sponsorship but should be named on a separate undertaking.
2.7 How can I estimate how much financial support will be required?
The sponsorship application guides provide details of how much financial support will likely be needed to meet sponsorship obligations. They also provide advice on how to determine whether a group has sufficient funds.
Although the cost of living varies across Canada, the Sponsorship Cost Table and the In-Kind Deduction Table included in Appendix A: Financial Guidelines in both the Guide for Community Sponsors to privately sponsor refugees (IMM 2201) and the Guide for Groups of Five to privately sponsor refugees (IMM 2200) can help to estimate the minimum annual settlement cost for a refugee or refugee family.
The sponsorship cost table should be used as a guideline only, as it is one national average of costs and there are several variables that can affect the amount of support required for sponsorship.
To determine the actual amount of financial assistance that may be required in a particular city or province, sponsors should consult the Resettlement Assistance Program rates in the expected community of settlement.
The total sponsorship costs may be reduced through the donation of "in-kind" support, which may include shelter, furniture and clothing. For more information, see Appendix A of IMM 2200, IMM 2201, or the Guide for Sponsorship Agreement Holders to privately sponsor refugees (IMM 5413).
When assessing the financial capacity of a sponsoring group, ROC-O must be satisfied that the total amount of committed funds plus in-kind donations meets or exceeds the sponsorship cost table amounts after existing financial commitments of the sponsor(s) are taken into account. Existing financial commitments include other active sponsorships and the number of family members that the sponsor currently supports.
Trust accounts: 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. Any funds held in trust must not have come from the refugee.
In the event that the refugee is not accepted for resettlement in Canada, funds held in trust for the sponsorship of that refugee, including all accumulated interest, must be returned to the donor(s).
IRCC 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.
2.8 What are the financial support requirements after the refugee arrives?
Refugees are expected to contribute to their own settlement costs from funds they bring to Canada or earn during their sponsorship period. When refugees have financial resources, they retain the right to manage their own finances. Sponsors cannot require the refugees to submit their funds for management by others.
The standards for use of personal funds and earned income follow the same standards as the Resettlement Assistance Program (RAP). (For example, calculation of income support and personal assets, additional income incentive threshold, Canada Child Benefit.) However, the sponsor may choose to maintain a higher level of income support. The level of financial support is to reflect current RAP rates at the time of arrival.
Because 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. 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.
For additional information on post-arrival financial support requirements, please refer to the Financial Support Guidelines for Sponsoring Groups (PDF, 342 KB).
2.9 Are there any extra costs?
There may be unforeseen costs that occur post-arrival, or additional costs based on varying cost of living rates across Canada. Actual required costs may exceed sponsorship cost table and RAP amounts. Sponsors should also consider other RAP and/or provincial/municipal social-economic benefits such as (but not limited to):
- maternity benefits
- child care
- disability or age-specific top-ups
- housing supplements, and/or
- health-related expenses, including travel to appointments, or critical health related expenses not covered through Interim Federal Health (IFH) or provincial health insurance plans.
Many costs first come up when a refugee settles in Canada. Sponsoring groups should also plan to provide enough money to cover deposits for:
- first/last month’s rent
Refugees are usually given a loan from the Government of Canada to pay for their transportation to Canada. Sponsoring groups may choose to cover some or all costs of the refugee’s Immigration Loan, but are not obligated to do so. In cases where the overseas IRCC office has concerns about a refugee's ability to repay a loan, the sponsoring group may be asked if they are willing to pay a portion, or all of these costs. Examples may be sponsorships for elderly persons who are unlikely to enter the labour market or sponsorships of unaccompanied minor children.
2.10 How does a sponsoring group identify a refugee to sponsor?
There are 2 ways that a sponsoring group can identify a refugee to sponsor:
1) Sponsor-referred: The sponsoring group submits 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, community member, relative of a member of the organization, or elsewhere. SAHs/CGs, G5s and CSs submit the sponsorship application on behalf of the sponsor-referred refugee to ROC-O.
A group that wishes to refer a refugee applicant for sponsorship should first:
- 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.
It should then be determined if the person has relatives or friends in Canada. In most cases, refugees should be resettled in their relative's community.
2) Blended Visa Office-Referred/Visa office-referred: ROC-O administers an inventory of cases that have been selected after initial identification by the UNHCR. IRCC works to find a private sponsor to match with the refugee under the Blended Visa Office-Referred (BVOR) or Visa Office-Referred (VOR) Programs.
BVOR/VOR cases are normally ready to travel to Canada within 1 to 4 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, ROC-O will 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 the BVOR and VOR Programs.
2.11 What is a Refugee Status Determination and when is it required?
To be sponsored as a refugee by a Group of Five or a Community Sponsor, the Principal Applicant must already have a Refugee Status Determination (RSD). Having an RSD means that an authorized body has determined that an individual meets its refugee definition. This authorized body can be the UNHCR or the government of the country where the asylum seeker is currently living (i.e., foreign state). Being registered with the UNHCR does not mean that refugee status has been determined.
A document proving recognized refugee status that has been issued by the UNHCR or a foreign state must accompany the refugee sponsorship application submitted to ROC-O.
Principal Applicants without refugee status recognized by the UNHCR or a foreign state can only be sponsored by a SAH. 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.
An RSD is not required for BVOR cases because these cases have already been referred to Canada by the UNHCR.
2.12 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 did not travel to Canada with the Principal Applicant.
When a non-accompanying family member is located or otherwise becomes available for processing, after the Principal Applicant has arrived in Canada, the family member in Canada or their sponsoring group can submit a One Year Window (OYW) application to ROC-O.
In order to qualify, the family member must have been identified on the Generic Application Form for Canada (IMM 0008) (PDF, 645 KB) of the Principal Applicant before he/she departed for Canada.
A OYW application must be submitted to ROC-O within 1 year of the Principal Applicant’s arrival in Canada and the OYW applicant must meet the definition of a family member. If the applicant meets the above-mentioned OYW criteria, the application is transferred to the overseas IRCC office responsible for the area in which the OYW applicant resides, even if that differs from the overseas IRCC office where the Principal Applicant was processed. If a family member is located after the 1-year period has elapsed, the family member may still be eligible for processing in a family reunification category.
All family members, including non-accompanying family members, must be identified by the sponsoring group on the Sponsorship Undertaking. The Principal Applicant must also identify them on the IMM 0008 application.
Failing to disclose family members on the undertaking or IMM 0008 is misrepresentation and will result in the refusal of the application.
In addition, family members who are not identified on the IMM 0008 application form, or who were not declared to IRCC prior to the Principal Applicant’s departure for Canada, will not be eligible for the OYW or for sponsorship under a family class category at a later date.
Please refer to the OYW Instruction Guide (IMM 5578) for additional information.
2.13 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 IRCC's definition of a family member. Such individuals should be included in the sponsorship.
To be considered as a member of the family unit, these individuals must satisfy the migration officer that they are dependent on the family unit. The dependency may be emotional or economic and will often be a combination of both. Such people would normally live with the Principal Applicant as members of the same household.
Sponsors must submit a separate Sponsorship Undertaking for de facto dependants and identify the name and date of birth of the Principal Applicant in the “Multiple Undertakings” section to ensure that the 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, the Sponsorship Undertaking includes a “Linked/Multiples Sponsorship Applications” section in which the sponsoring group is asked to identify any de facto dependants who are co-applying and whose application should be processed together with that of the Principal Applicant.
For all VOR cases and cases where the sponsor did not list de facto dependants identified by the Principal Applicant, migration officers will contact ROC-O 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:
- A non-biological child who has not been legally adopted but who has been and continues to be under the care of the Principal Applicant and family. In some cases, the non-biological child may not be aware of the situation. In these situations, where possible, a separate written explanation should be submitted explaining the circumstances and requesting discretion. If preferred, during the interview, the Principal Applicant may request to speak to the migration officer separately to explain the situation.
- 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.
- 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 more than 6 months), but who has family of their own.
2.14 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 must 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 ROC-O, but before the visa has been issued (for example, due to the birth of a child, or a marriage). If this situation arises, the applicant must advise the IRCC office overseas immediately. Sponsoring groups should also advise ROC-O as soon as possible so that the process to add the dependant can begin.
All family members (both accompanying and non-accompanying) must be added to an application for permanent residence before the Principal Applicant departs for Canada. Failing to declare a family member is misrepresentation and may result in the refusal of the application. Declaring family members is also important for family reunification. For example, under the OYW provision, the Principal Applicant can apply to bring their non-accompanying family members to Canada for up to 1 year after their arrival in Canada – but only if the family members were declared on the application before the Principal Applicant departed for Canada. For more information about the OYW provision, see the Guide to reunite non-accompanying family members overseas under the One-Year Window of Opportunity Provision (IMM 5578).
De facto family members are not family members under the regulations and cannot be added to a sponsorship application. If the sponsoring group wishes to add an accompanying de facto family member, a separate Sponsorship Application package is required. The sponsoring group can link the application by listing it in the Linked/Multiple Sponsorship Undertakings section on the Sponsorship Undertaking form. We will do our best to process the applications at the same time. Refer to Appendix B of the appropriate sponsorship guide for instructions on adding a family member to a PSR application:
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 ROC-O. 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 Applicant’s refugee application will likely be refused by the overseas migration officer.
2.15 How does a group begin the sponsorship process?
Once a sponsoring group has been formed, it must obtain the Application for Refugee Sponsorship package. The sponsor must complete the sponsorship forms. The refugee must complete the Applying as a Convention Refugee or as a Humanitarian-Protected Person Abroad package (see next section). Both parts, with supporting documents, must be submitted to ROC-O.
The sponsorship application guide includes the program information and instructions on completing the following forms:
- the Sponsorship Undertaking
- the settlement plan which outlines the settlement and financial arrangements in place to support the sponsored refugee (for G5s and CSs this is included in the Sponsorship Undertaking form)
- the financial assessment for G5s and CSs
The refugee’s application guide includes the program information and instructions on completing the following forms:
- Application for Permanent Residence (Generic application form for Canada IMM 0008)
- Additional Dependants/Declaration
- Schedule A–Background/Declaration
- Schedule 2–Refugees outside Canada, and
- Use of Representative form
2.16 The Refugee’s Application for Permanent Residence
Refugee applicants are required to complete all relevant application forms contained in the Application for Permanent Residence in Canada: Convention Refugees Abroad and Humanitarian-Protected Persons Abroad (IMM 6000 kit). This 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 the IMM 6000 refugee application guide.)
For sponsor-referred cases, there are 2 methods by which the sponsorship application and the Application for Permanent Residence may be submitted to ROC-O for processing:
- The sponsoring group sends the Application for Permanent Residence to the refugee they wish to sponsor. The refugee applicant completes the package 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 Application for Permanent Residence, supporting documents, photographs and the sponsorship application to ROC-O.
- The sponsoring group sends the completed sponsorship application to the refugees overseas they wish to sponsor. The refugee applicant sends the completed Application for Permanent Residence, along with supporting documents and photographs, together with the sponsorship application to ROC-O.
The first submission method has the advantage of reducing the processing time overseas. It also provides sponsors with an opportunity to review the content and completeness of the refugee's application before it is submitted.
2.17 How to submit a sponsorship application package to ROC-O
Applications can be submitted to ROC-O either by e-mail or mail, not both. Duplicate applications will delay the processing of your application.
Emailing the application package allows sponsors to receive an email auto-reply to confirm receipt right away.
If you mail your application, we recommend that you send via registered mail to ensure that your package is trackable by Canada Post or a courier service.
We strongly recommend that you send 1 application per envelope. If you send more than 1 application in an envelope/box, itemize the applications in a list contained in the envelope/box or all the applications will be returned to you without being processed.
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada
Resettlement Operations Centre in Ottawa
365 Laurier Avenue West
Ottawa, ON K1A 1L1
- Tips for ensuring that your email sponsorship application is submitted properly: 2D barcode the Generic Application Form for Canada (IMM 0008)
- as you enter information on the IMM 0008 online you must complete all mandatory fields in order to “validate” the form and create the 2D barcode
- validation does not mean that the form is submitted to ROC-O, it means that a 2D barcode will be generated and printed on the IMM 0008
- the IMM 0008 is divided into 2 parts: the form and the signature page.
Please use the following procedure:
- complete the form in its entirety, then select the “validate” button located on the last page
- save the PDF document as “PA FAMILY NAME, First Name - IMM0008”
- print only the IMM 0008 signature page – sign and date where indicated
- scan the signature page separately and save it as “IMM0008-signature page”
- Check your scanner settings:
- use a high resolution (at least 400 DPI);
- we accept scanned documents in black and white.
- Check the email attachments:
- you need to submit a minimum of 6 separate email attachments
- each attachment cannot be bigger than 5MB - if an attachment is larger than 5MB, the application will be returned to you without being processed
- attach only PDF and picture files
- do not attach compressed files (such as ZIP or RAR)
- all forms must be typed
- Use these naming conventions for your attachments:
- sponsor documents – name this file: “PA family name, First Name– Sponsor documents”
- IMM0008 & IMM0008 DEP (if applicable) – name this file: “PA family name, First Name - IMM0008”
- Schedule A, Schedule 2 and Use of Representative forms – name this file: “PA family name, First Name - Schedules”
- one photo per applicant which meets the photo specifications – Name thisfile: “PA family name, First Name Refugee - Photos”
- Passports – Name this file: “PA family name, First Name - Passports”
- supporting documentation – Name this file: “PA family name, First Name - Supporting documentation”
- Email the application:
- The subject line should be: “SAH/G5/CS Sponsorship Application - PA family name, first name”.
- The email size cannot be bigger than 10MB – if it is, send the attachment in 2 or more emails and number your email subjects. For example: “part 1 of 2” and “part 2 of 2”. If your email is larger than 10MB, it will bounce back and you will not receive an email auto-reply.
- Ensure your application was received and is complete:
- You should receive an auto-reply from ROC-O for each email sent. Save these auto-replies.
- Your application will be returned to you without being processed if the format is incorrect or if the application is incomplete. If this happens, you must submit a new application in its entirety (not just the missing documents).
2.18 How is the application processed?
The Resettlement Operations Centre in Ottawa (ROC-O) is IRCC's point of contact for information on processing and settlement issues pertaining to private group sponsorships. Upon receipt of a sponsorship application, ROC-O:
- reviews the sponsorship application to ensure that it is complete and meets the eligibility requirements
- reviews the Application for Permanent Residence to ensure it is properly completed
- acknowledges receipt of the undertaking to the sponsoring group
- assesses whether the sponsor meets the requirements of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act
- If the sponsor does not meet the requirements, the application is refused and no further processing done
- If the sponsoring group meets the requirements, then:
- for sponsor-referred cases: The approved undertaking and the completed application for permanent residence are forwarded to the overseas IRCC office responsible for the area where the refugee lives
- for all BVOR/VOR and Joint Assistance Sponsorship (JAS) cases: ROC-O reviews, assesses as well as processes the Sponsorship Undertaking once received from the sponsor
- advises the sponsoring group if their application was accepted and transferred overseas, or refused.
Overseas IRCC offices process applications for permanent residence for the refugees who are living abroad. The overseas IRCC offices work closely with international service providers who deal with refugees around the world and also maintain contact with ROC-O. The overseas IRCC office will:
- review the Application for Permanent Residence and pre-screen for basic eligibility requirements
- 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 BVOR/VOR sponsorships: send a completed referral form to ROC-O so that the profile can be added to the online refugee profile directory
- issue a loan for transportation
- 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
- advise ROC-O of the date and place that the refugee will arrive in Canada
2.19 When will I receive information on the processing status of the sponsorship and refugee application?
Sponsorship application stage: ROC-O will communicate with sponsors at 3 stages of processing:
Stage 1 – Intake:
- For mailed applications:
- A first Acknowledgment of Receipt (AOR) is sent via email by ROC-O to the sponsoring group to confirm that the sponsorship application package has been received but not yet verified for completeness. This is generally sent within 30 days of receipt of your application and includes the name of the Principal Applicant. This acknowledgment of receipt simply confirms that ROC-O received your application.
- For emailed applications:
- An immediate auto-reply is sent to the email address used to submit the application This auto-reply confirms that the sponsorship application package has been received. It does not confirm that your application is complete nor does it include the name of the Principal Applicant.
Stage 2 – Completeness Check:
ROC-O reviews the application to ensure that all correct forms have been submitted and signed by all sponsors.
If the application is complete, a second AOR is sent via email by ROC-O to the sponsoring group to confirm that all necessary sponsorship forms have been submitted and signed, and the application has been created in our system. An application number (G number) is provided.
If the application is incomplete, no second AOR is sent.
If the application was sent by mail or courier, it is returned to the sponsoring group via mail.
For an emailed application, an email is sent to all sponsors and the Principal Applicant explaining the reasons for return.
Stage 3 – The Sponsorship Application Decision
A ROC-O officer assesses your application by reviewing the application forms and supporting documents to determine if you meet the requirements to be a sponsor.
If the officer is satisfied that you meet the requirements, the Sponsorship Application is approved and the decision is communicated to all sponsors and the Principal Applicant via email. The entire application (sponsorship application and the refugee’s application for permanent residence) is then electronically transferred to the appropriate IRCC office overseas.
If the ROC-O officer is not satisfied that you meet the requirements, the application is refused and the decision is communicated to all sponsors and the Principal Applicant via e-mail.
Overseas Refugee application stage:
When the overseas IRCC office starts processing the refugee’s application, they will schedule an interview with the refugee. The sponsor is informed when the interview is scheduled, in most cases.
If the refugee application is approved, IRCC issues a visa. If the refugee application is refused, IRCC sends a letter to both the refugee and the sponsor with an explanation.
After the visa is issued, it may take time to arrange for exit permits, if required by the local authorities.
Travel to Canada:
- IRCC sends a Notice of Approval to the sponsor about 4 to 10 weeks before departure.
- IRCC then sends a request to the International Organization for Migration to book transportation, deliver orientation sessions about Canada, and arrange for medical escorts (if needed).
- A Notification of Arrival Transmission (NAT) is sent to the sponsor with travel details about 10 business days before the refugee arrives in Canada.
2.20 How can I check my application status?
Sponsorship application status inquiries:
Once we have created your application in our system, you can check its status on-line.
If you would like a case status update and the information is not available online, contact us. Use this email subject line when sending a status inquiry: pa family name, first name, G number, case status request.
You can contact ROC-O when:
- You sent an email application and you did not receive the automatic auto-reply (and you have checked the “junk mail” or “spam” folder for the email account you used to send the application, to make sure the auto-reply isn’t there).
- More than 60 days have passed since you submitted your paper application and you have not received the first AOR.
- More than 6 months have passed since you received your first AOR. If less than 6 months have passed, we will not answer your case status request;
- You believe that your application has been erroneously delayed overseas. ROC-O will review the case and advise the mission if an error seems to have occurred in processing the application. ROC-O will not provide you with a response on these case status requests.
Keep in mind that contacting ROC-O takes staff away from processing applications. This delays processing of your application and applications of others.
Refugee application status inquiries:
A case-specific enquiry Web Form may be submitted to the responsible Migration Office to inquire on the status of the refugee’s Application for Permanent Residence – but only when all of the following apply:
- the application has been sent to the responsible Migration Office (as indicated online or via confirmation letter from IRCC)
- the required information is not available online
- the estimated Migration Office 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.
If you decide to send us an email, please do not ask your Member of Parliament, other sponsors or the Principal Applicant to send an email for the same question. If we receive multiple email enquiries on the same topic, we will only answer the first email.
Current processing times
Processing times can change. You can check current processing times on the Application processing times webpage.
2.21 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 ROC-O, whichever option they choose.
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 overseas IRCC office will provide applicants with instructions for the medical examination. The refugee applicants will also need to pass criminality and security checks. The refugee applicants may be required to produce supplemental documentation to finalize these checks.
Costs of travel to Canada: Refugee applicants are responsible for the travel costs for themselves and all dependent family members. An immigration loan may be available to refugees who are unable to cover transportation costs up to and including arrival in Canada.
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 may include settlement activities such as language training classes, college or university courses, employment preparation programs, and employment.
2.22 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 overseas IRCC offices. Processing times in each overseas IRCC 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 1 to 4 months after ROC-O has approved the sponsorship.
2.23 Sponsorship Withdrawals
Sponsorship withdrawal is the cancellation of a Sponsorship Undertaking before the permanent resident 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 ROC-O and must include the reason(s) for requesting a withdrawal.
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 has found another durable solution
- new personal information about the refugee makes the sponsorship no longer viable
- the refugee has made no contact with the overseas IRCC office to provide requested information or to respond to subsequent efforts by that office
In the situation of a possible withdrawal, the original sponsor must inform ROC-O 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 sponsoring group.
2.24 Secondary migration and self-destination
Sponsors are encouraged to maintain open lines of communication with both the refugee and IRCC throughout the sponsorship period.
It may happen that, at some point during the sponsorship period, the refugee either chooses not to proceed to the community of destination upon arrival (self-destined) or decides to move out of the sponsor's community (secondary migration).
In the event of secondary migration or self-destination, 3 options are available to the sponsoring group:
- Identify a replacement Constituent Group and/or Co-sponsors or Group of Five member(s) to meet residency requirements in the new community and resubmit an updated Sponsorship Undertaking.
- Transfer the sponsorship to a new 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 sponsorship would be declared in sponsorship breakdown (see section 2.25).
- Appoint representatives in the new community by submitting an Appointment of Representative(s) in Expected Community of Settlement form (IMM 5956) (PDF, 138 KB).
Where the sponsor has decided that they will not, or cannot, continue to support the refugee in the new community, the sponsorship will likely result in a breakdown.
2.25 Sponsorship Breakdown:
A sponsorship breakdown is an official declaration that an irreparable failure to meet the sponsorship arrangement has occurred.
When a situation arises that may result in sponsorship breakdown, IRCC, the sponsoring group (including the SAH if a Constituent Group is involved) and the refugees will attempt to resolve the issues to try and avoid a sponsorship breakdown. It is in the sponsoring group’s best interest to involve IRCC when disputes arise, as the Department can intervene to assist with mediation or other resolution methods.
If a solution is not possible, then IRCC will try to ascertain responsibility. The discussions will also address the ongoing needs of the refugees for the remainder of the sponsorship period and the capacity of the sponsor to support the refugees under the changed circumstances. Where there is no agreement on who is ultimately responsible for the breakdown, IRCC makes the final determination.
If the sponsor is found responsible, they will be found in default of their obligations and may be barred from sponsoring until they have satisfied regulatory requirements. If the sponsor is not responsible, it is released from all further obligations.
It is important to remember that unless IRCC issues a formal notice of sponsorship breakdown, (which effectively cancels the Sponsorship Undertaking), sponsored refugees may not be able to obtain income support through provincial or municipal social assistance programs or the Resettlement Assistance Program during the sponsorship period (normally 12 months).
Further, if a sponsoring group is found to be in sponsorship default, it may, under certain circumstances, be liable for reimbursing the government concerned for income support issued to refugees during the group's sponsorship period.
For more information on sponsorship breakdown, please refer to the Refugee Sponsorships Training Program’s information sheets on Sponsorship Disputes and Breakdowns (PDF, 150 KB) and the Rights of Privately Sponsored Refugees (PDF, 614 KB).
2.26 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 coverage of health-care benefits for specific groups of people in Canada until they become eligible for provincial or territorial health insurance. The IFHP is a payer of last resort, limiting benefits to those who lack public health insurance or comprehensive private insurance.
All resettled refugees, including privately sponsored refugees, are eligible for basic, supplemental and prescription drug coverage under the IFHP. The duration of coverage is:
- Basic coverage (for example, doctor visits and hospital care) is provided until the beneficiary qualifies for provincial or territorial health insurance, which typically occurs within 3 months.
- Supplemental and prescription drug coverage is provided until the beneficiary is no longer under private sponsorship. In most cases, coverage is valid for 12 months from the date that the resettled refugee arrives in Canada.
Read more about the IFHP, including how to apply and the description of coverage.
Canada Child 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.
Permanent resident (PR) card: All new permanent residents to Canada receive a permanent resident card. These cards are valid for 5 years. To receive their PR cards, permanent residents must provide their mailing address in Canada. Permanent residents can use the Address Notification tool to update their information.
To avoid a $50 processing fee, permanent residents must provide their new address within 180 days after entering Canada.
Travel arrangements for pets
IRCC will not support travel arrangements for pets unless these involve a service animal where legitimate reasons are found to justify its travel to Canada.
Refugees must make travel arrangements for household pets on their own.
- Legitimate reasons for accepting a service animal include situations where a person has a disability, such as visual impairment, hearing impairment, mental illness (such as post-traumatic stress disorder), seizure disorder, mobility impairment, and diabetes. A medical examination report must be requested to confirm if a legitimate condition exists, if the condition is not obvious.
- If legitimate cases are found, requirements met and counselling provided, the IOM must tell us. These cases will be forwarded to the Resettlement Services Unit to coordinate logistics with applicable service provider organizations, if applicable.
- Before accepting to arrange travel for the pet, the IOM must ensure that all pre-departure requirements have been made and paid by the refugee and that s/he understands all requirements and costs that may be encountered upon arrival in Canada. More information can be found at: Travelling with Pets.
- Refugees can also make arrangements to bring their pet after their arrival in Canada. More information can be found at: Importing Pets.
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