Immigration Operational Bulletin 646 (modified) – Joint Assistance Sponsorship recommendations from within Canada – December 6, 2017

This section contains policy, procedures and guidance used by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada staff. It is posted on the Department’s website as a courtesy to stakeholders.

Joint Assistance Sponsorship recommendations from within Canada

Summary

This Operational Bulletin (OB) outlines the procedures for converting a government-assisted refugee case to a Joint Assistance Sponsorship (JAS) post-arrival. It also outlines procedures in exceptional circumstances where a blended visa office-referred refugee case is recommended for the JAS program by the sponsoring group, a service provider organization (SPO) or a domestic Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) office due to high settlement or medical needs.

These operational instructions apply to IRCC domestic operations and identify the roles and responsibilities of IRCC officers, the Resettlement Operations Centre in Ottawa (ROC-O), SPOs and sponsoring groups in finding a sponsor and sharing relevant information.

Issue

The in-Canada determination of JAS cases initiative is meant to improve the quality of JAS referrals and to improve the overall outcomes of the refugees by providing them with the appropriate level of support they require to successfully integrate. This initiative is anticipated to help ensure that sponsoring groups participating in the JAS program have as much relevant information about refugee needs as possible and to increase the overall number of JAS referrals nationally.

Identifying JAS cases within Canada is not meant to replace the current structure of an overseas identification by a migration officer, but rather to complement the current process.

Background

Experience has shown that the special needs of some refugees may become apparent only after the clients have arrived in Canada. Resettlement Assistance Program (RAP) SPOs have significant expertise in settlement needs and may be best placed to recommend which high-needs clients would benefit from the extra support of a sponsoring group based on a detailed post-arrival needs assessment. For blended visa office-referred refugee cases, sponsoring groups can also struggle with providing the necessary support for higher needs cases and may also contact IRCC to request reconsideration of the case for the JAS program.

Although there are currently provisions for in-Canada conversions of government-assisted refugee and blended visa office-referred refugee cases to JAS, local IRCC officers, SPOs and sponsors may not be aware of this option.

In-Canada JAS conversions

When could in-Canada conversions of government-assisted refugee cases to JAS be considered?

This type of conversion can be considered when all of the following apply:

  • Information regarding high medical or settlement needs is identified post-arrival and during the period of RAP support.
  • The case meets JAS criteria (see existing program guidance), namely in that there is greater need of settlement assistance than there is for other government-assisted refugee cases because of exceptional resettlement needs, such as the following:
    • A physical or mental condition that could require treatment in Canada
    • An unusual family configuration such as a single-parent family with several young children or a family consisting only of siblings, one or more of whom has assumed parental responsibilities
    • Other special needs identified by the overseas office or an inland IRCC office
  • Sponsor support is available.
  • JAS would be in the best interest of the client.

When could in-Canada conversions of blended visa office-referred refugee cases to JAS be considered?

A private sponsor or SPO can request the conversion of a blended visa office-referred refugee case to a JAS case. However, conversions of blended visa office-referred refugee cases to JAS are done only in exceptional circumstances and with the concurrence of the local IRCC office.

Exceptional circumstances for a blended visa office-referred refugee case to be converted to a JAS include the following:

  • Information regarding high medical or settlement needs is known only post-arrival (note: pre-arrival conversion to JAS or a government-assisted refugee case [in situations when sponsor groups withdraw their sponsorship due to lack of capacity to support the higher medical needs] could be an option if this medical or settlement information is identified only at the Notification of Arrival Transmission [NAT] stage).
  • The case meets JAS criteria (as per the instructions above).
  • Sponsor support is available (if the current sponsor does not have the capacity or experience, the case could be solicited to other sponsors in the community of settlement).
  • JAS would be in the best interest of the client.
    • Considerations:
      • JAS clients may receive additional support through services from RAP SPOs.
      • Sponsors may further support JAS clients by diverting financial resources to help cover additional medical costs that are not covered through the Interim Federal Health Program (IFHP) or provincial health care programs.
      • There is potential to extend the sponsorship period beyond 12 months, if it is in the client’s best interest.

JAS duration

All JAS sponsorships, whether identified overseas or in Canada, should be established with a 2-year duration of both RAP income support and sponsorship, from the arrival date in Canada. If at any point during the JAS sponsorship the client’s need for JAS support is no longer required, the joint sponsorship can be ended with the mutual agreement of both the sponsor and the refugee and the recommendation of the local office. A check-in by the local IRCC office with the sponsor mid-way through the JAS commitment helps to inform IRCC of any possible adjustments to the JAS duration.

Process for in-Canada determination of JAS cases

Below are the steps to be followed for in-Canada determination of JAS cases. For migration officer determined JAS cases, see existing program guidance. For the overseas processes, refer to program delivery instructions for Resettlement from Overseas.

Step 1

The RAP SPO or sponsoring group completes the Joint Assistance Sponsorship (JAS) In-Canada Recommendation Form and submits it, along with any pertinent case details, by email to the local IRCC office.

Recommendation forms for government-assisted refugee cases must be submitted by RAP SPOs to the local IRCC office within 8 months from the client’s date of arrival to Canada in order to be considered and processed by IRCC. Recommendation forms submitted after the deadline will not be considered unless there are exceptional circumstances or a sponsor has already been identified.

Step 2

The local IRCC office reviews case details and information contained in the JAS recommendation form, seeks additional information from the SPO or sponsorship agreement holder if required, and makes a recommendation to the Resettlement Operations Division in the International Network (IN) with the JAS recommendation form attached. The subject line should clearly read “Recommendation for in-Canada JAS conversion: (special program name here [e.g. Survivors of Daesh])”, if applicable.

If a sponsor has already been identified by the local IRCC office, or if the case is a blended visa office-referred refugee one, this should be indicated in the email to the Resettlement Operations Division. The local IRCC office recommendation should include supervisor or manager concurrence.

Step 3

Resettlement Operations Division, IN reviews case and determines if it should be designated as a JAS, then advises the local IRCC office of the case decision by email.

Step 4

Resettlement Operations Division, IN

Government-assisted refugee cases

If a sponsor has not yet been identified, the case summary is sent to the ROC-O for tracking and liaison with the Refugee Sponsorship Training Program (RSTP) to help promote and solicit the case to the sponsorship community. Promotion lasts for a maximum of 4 months or until a sponsor is found.

Blended visa office-referred refugee cases

If the sponsor is not willing or does not have the capacity to continue to provide support and a new sponsoring group must be found, sponsorship breakdown protocols and provisions apply. However, until a sponsorship breakdown is finalized, the sponsor continues to provide support to the refugee.

If a new sponsor must be found, the case summary is provided to the ROC-O for tracking and liaison with the RSTP to help promote and solicit the case to the sponsorship community.

Promotion to potential sponsors lasts for a maximum of 4 months or until a sponsor is found. However, the local IRCC office may recommend other options to ensure that the clients are adequately supported, including posting for a shortened period or putting the client on the RAP in exceptional circumstances as per breakdown guidance in the existing program guidance.

Step 5

ROC-O creates the profile to be shared with the sponsorship agreement holder community.

Tracks JAS in-Canada conversion cases in a spreadsheet.

Informs the RSTP to start promotion. It should be noted that there is no need to promote it in blended visa office-referred refugee cases if the sponsoring group is willing to continue and able to provide support or if a sponsor is already found.

Adds a note in the Global Case Management System (GCMS).

Once a sponsoring group is found, informs the local IRCC office.

Reaches out to the sponsor and shares information details for the completion of the undertaking.

Informs the RSTP to stop promotion if no sponsor is found after 4 months.

Step 6

Sponsoring group submits the completed sponsorship undertaking form [IMM 1324], “Sponsor Assessment” form [IMM 5492] and “Settlement Plan” form [IMM 5494] (if required) to the ROC-O for approval.

Step 7

ROC-O does the following once the sponsorship undertaking is approved:

  • informs the local IRCC office
  • enters sponsorship information into GCMS
  • adds the corresponding organization in GCMS
  • updates the length of financial support field in GCMS

Sends a data fix request to GCMS for a change in the financial support field to “Joint Assistance”

Step 8

Local IRCC office adjusts the income support commitment period to reflect the new period of sponsorship and extension of RAP income support benefits through the RAP income support calculation tool and its associated forms and processes (e.g., update SAP).

Ensures the RAP Income Support Agreement reflects the extended period of sponsorship and RAP benefits.

Ensures IFHP coverage is extended to reflect the new period of JAS support.

Where applicable, informs the SPO that a sponsor has been identified and assists in coordinating a case conferencing meeting between the RAP SPO and the sponsor.

Step 9

RAP SPO connects with the sponsoring group to review settlement information and participates in a case conference meeting (in person, by phone, etc.), as required (a “JAS Roles and Responsibilities Checklist” is to be completed by the RAP SPO and the sponsoring group during this meeting). Once it has been completed, the RAP SPO must send the checklist to the local IRCC office for review and addition to the JAS client’s RAP file. The sponsor, the RAP SPO and the JAS client must also receive a copy.

Step 10

Sponsoring group meets with the refugee and the SPO (if applicable) and commences shared sponsorship obligations.

Step 11

Local IRCC office checks in with the sponsor mid-way through the JAS commitment in order to ensure the client’s needs are being met by the sponsor and that JAS is still in the best interest of the client. A standard email template is available for this purpose. If any concerns are presented, officers are to notify the Resettlement Operations Division in the IN.

Overseas JAS determination

As per the current procedures, migration officers are asked to continue to flag special needs cases for conversion to JAS. It should be noted that the referrals flagged for JAS by migration officers differ from the Visa Office Referrals (VOR) program. To learn more about overseas JAS referrals and the VOR program, please see OB 228 (published on August 17, 2010).

Expected results

Uptake on in-Canada government-assisted refugee and blended visa office-referred refugee cases to JAS determination is expected to vary across the country depending on the availability of supports in the community and on sponsorship capacity.

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