Sponsorship residency requirements for the Private Sponsorship of Refugees Program

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.

Per paragraph 153(1)(a) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (IRPR), a sponsor must reside or have representatives in the refugee’s expected community of settlement. In determining the community of settlement, the paramount consideration should be the sponsor’s ability to provide adequate, in-person support to the refugee, taking into account the distance between the sponsor and the refugee. The purpose of the residency requirement is to ensure that the sponsoring group is able to provide adequate, in-person support to the refugee over the duration of the sponsorship period.

In exceptional circumstances, where the sponsors or the refugees relocate, the procedures below are in place to ensure that the necessary support is provided to the refugee.

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Assessment of residency requirements

To meet the residency requirements of private sponsorship,

  • sponsorship agreement holders must have one of the following:
    • the sponsorship agreement holders, constituent group or both located in the community of settlement
    • at least 2 co-sponsors residing in the community of settlement
    • at least 2 appointed representatives residing in the community of settlement
  • community sponsors must have one of the following:
    • the community sponsors located in the community of settlement
    • at least 2 co-sponsors residing in the community of settlement
    • at least 2 appointed representatives residing in the community of settlement
  • groups of 5 must have one of the following:
    • all 5 sponsors residing in the community of settlement
    • their appointed representatives (for each group member that does not reside in the community of settlement) residing in the community of settlement

To assess if the sponsoring group meets the residency requirements, the Resettlement Operations Centre in Ottawa (ROC-O) compares

  • the sponsors’ addresses on the sponsorship undertaking or the representative’s address on the “Appointment of Representative(s) in Expected Community of Settlement” form [IMM 5956 (PDF, 1.56 MB)]
  • the province and city (where the refugees plan to live) listed in question 5 of the principal applicant’s “Generic Application Form for Canada” [IMM 0008 (PDF, 649 KB)]; applications that do not meet these requirements on submission are more likely to be refused by the ROC-O

The form used to appoint a representative is the “Appointment of Representative(s) in Expected Community of Settlement” form [IMM 5956 (PDF, 1.56 MB)].

Requests to change final destination

The refugee or the sponsor must inform Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) of any change to the intended community of settlement. If there is a change in the final destination, sponsors are required to ensure that appropriate settlement support is arranged in the new community of settlement for the refugee. IRCC verifies if the required settlement support provided is appropriate.

Procedures differ depending on whether IRCC is notified of the change in destination

Change of destination before the NAT has been issued

When an interview is conducted, the IRCC office abroad asks the applicants if there are any changes to the information on file. This ensures the applicants have the opportunity to update the IRCC office abroad if there are any changes during the processing of their case, including a change of final destination.

Following the issuance of a visa, a Notice of Visa Issuance is sent to the sponsor. In this notice, the sponsor is advised of the final destination on file with IRCC and is asked to notify the ROC-O if there are any changes to be made.

If a change of destination to a community other than where the sponsors reside is requested by the sponsor or refugee, the IRCC office abroad or the sponsor must inform the ROC-O of the change and, therefore, the need to reassess the sponsorship. The ROC-O then provides the sponsor with their options and advises them that the application will be delayed abroad until a reassessment is made.

When the submitted information is received, the ROC-O reviews the change to the sponsorship application to determine if the requirements for sponsorship are met under subsections R153(1) and R154(1). If it is decided that the sponsorship is satisfactory, the ROC-O informs the sponsor and the IRCC office abroad.

If these timeframes are not met, or if the ROC-O decides that the sponsorship arrangement is not satisfactory, the sponsorship application is more likely to be refused. The sponsor and refugees are notified by the ROC-O.

Change of destination after the NAT has been issued

A change of destination following the refugee’s arrival in Canada is broadly referred to as secondary migration.

If a change of destination to a community other than where the sponsor currently resides is requested after the NAT has been issued but before the refugee has landed, the ROC-O does not facilitate changes in the flight itinerary, and the refugee is destined to the community on record with IRCC, per the terms and obligations of the approved sponsorship undertaking. The ROC-O instead sends sponsors the options they have to meet residency requirements.

Changes after the refugee’s arrival

If a notification of a change of destination is received from the port of entry (POE) or the sponsor after the arrival of the refugee at the POE in Canada, the ROC-O provides the sponsor with their options and a deadline to submit the new documents. The sponsor must indicate how they will meet their sponsorship obligations to the refugees who will reside at a new destination.

If the required documentation is received by the deadline, and the sponsorship undertaking and settlement plan or “Appointment of Representative(s) in Expected Community of Settlement” form [IMM 5956 (PDF, 1.56 MB)] is

  • approved, the ROC-O changes the final destination
  • not approved, the ROC-O sends the case to the private sponsorship of refugees case review team to begin the sponsorship breakdown process

If the required documentation is not received within 30 days, the ROC-O sends the case to the private sponsorship of refugees case review team to start the sponsorship breakdown process.

Satisfying residency requirements following change in final destination

Sponsorship agreement holders

Sponsorship agreement holders have 3 options:

  1. Find a replacement sponsorship agreement holder in the new community of settlement. Revisions to cap allocations are considered on a case-by-case basis. If a new sponsorship agreement holder is found, the following forms must be submitted to the ROC-O within 30 days for assessment:
    • a new “Sponsorship Undertaking – Sponsorship Agreement Holders” form [IMM 5373 (PDF, 1.99 MB)] (the new undertaking replaces the original)
    • a cover letter to identify that this is a replacement sponsor case, rather than a new sponsorship application
    • “Settlement Plan” form [IMM 5440 (PDF, 1.52 MB)] if the replacement sponsorship agreement holder signed their agreement with IRCC less than 2 years ago
    • “Sponsor Assessment” form or forms [IMM 5492 (PDF, 2.19 MB))] if the new sponsorship agreement holder has a constituent group signing authority, co‑sponsors or both
  2. Amend the sponsorship undertaking to add a new constituent group, 2 co-sponsors in the new community of settlement or both.
    • The amended “Sponsorship Undertaking – Sponsorship Agreement Holders” form [IMM 5373 (PDF, 1.99 MB)] must be submitted to the ROC-O within 30 days for assessment.
    • A cover letter must be included to identify that this is an amended sponsorship, rather than a new sponsorship application.
  3. Appoint at least 2 representatives in the new community of settlement.
    • If representatives are appointed, the “Appointment of Representative(s) in Expected Community of Settlement” form [IMM 5956 (PDF, 1.56 MB)] must be submitted to the ROC-O within 30 days for assessment.

For community sponsors

Community sponsors have 3 options:

  1. Find a replacement sponsoring group in the new community of settlement. If a sponsoring group is found, the following forms must be submitted to the ROC-O within 30 days for assessment:
    • a new “Sponsorship Undertaking and Settlement Plan – Community Sponsor” form [IMM 5663 (PDF, 2.45 MB)] (the new undertaking replaces the original)
    • “Sponsor Assessment” form or forms [IMM 5492 (PDF, 2.19 MB)]
    • “Financial Profile” form [IMM 5373B (PDF, 101 KB)]
    • proof of Canadian citizenship or permanent residence
    • proof of income or proof of funds in trust
    • a cover letter to identify that this is a replacement sponsor case, rather than a new sponsorship application
  2. Amend the sponsorship undertaking to include at least 2 co-sponsors in the new community of settlement.
    • The amended “Sponsorship Undertaking and Settlement Plan – Community Sponsor” form [IMM 5663 (PDF, 2.45 MB)] must be submitted to the ROC-O within 30 days for assessment.
    • A cover letter must be included to identify that this is an amended sponsorship, rather than a new sponsorship application.
  3. Appoint at least 2 representatives in the new community of settlement.
    • If representatives are appointed, the “Appointment of Representative(s) in Expected Community of Settlement” form [IMM 5956 (PDF, 1.56 MB)] must be submitted to the ROC-O within 30 days for assessment.

For groups of 5

Groups of 5 have 2 options:

  1. Find a new sponsoring group to take over the sponsorship. If a sponsoring group is found, the following forms must be submitted to the ROC-O within 30 days for assessment:
    • a new “Sponsorship Undertaking and Settlement Plan – Community Sponsor” form [IMM 5670 (PDF, 2.44 MB)] (the new undertaking replaces the original)
    • “Sponsor Assessment” form or forms [IMM 5492 (PDF, 2.19 MB)]
    • “Financial Profile” form [IMM 5373B (PDF, 101 KB)]
    • proof of Canadian citizenship or permanent residence
    • proof of income or proof of funds in trust
    • a cover letter to identify that this is a replacement sponsor case, rather than a new sponsorship application
  2. Appoint 1 representative in the new community for each member living outside the community of settlement.
    • If representatives are appointed, the “Appointment of Representative(s) in Expected Community of Settlement” form [IMM 5956 (PDF, 1.56 MB)] must be submitted to the ROC-O within 30 days for assessment.
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