Resettlement Assistance Program (RAP): Eligibility: Exceptions

This section contains policy, procedures and guidance used by IRCC staff. It is posted on the department’s website as a courtesy to stakeholders.

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Sponsorship breakdown

RAP income support may be provided to refugees who are admitted to Canada under the sponsorship of an eligible sponsor in exceptional or emergency situations, and when a sponsorship breakdown has been declared or while sponsorship is in the process of a breakdown. The refugee should first apply for social assistance benefits as they will be provided with a letter from IRCC indicating that the sponsorship has officially been declared a breakdown and should first be referred to the local municipal or provincial social assistance authority.

RAP income support should be provided only in exceptional circumstances and as a last resource, where the refugee has demonstrated that they have no alternate means of financial support. These cases are rare and require consultation and approval by NHQ-IN-ROD. For refugees admitted under a Group of Five (G5) or Community Sponsorship, all efforts should be made to refer them to the local municipal or provincial social assistance authority for support, where possible. The duration of income support is calculated based upon:

  • the unfulfilled portion of the sponsorship undertaking (for example, the balance of the 12 month period) or
  • the time until the person is self-sufficient, whichever comes first

These cases may require the local IRCC office to refer the refugee to a RAP SPO for orientation on income support and financial responsibilities, on an exceptional basis only and as required.

Blended and cost sharing initiatives

Under the Blended Visa Office Referred (BVOR) Program, refugees are referred to Canadian visa offices abroad directly by the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR). Under the BVOR Program, the Government of Canada will generally provide up to six months of income support directly to the refugees through RAP, while private sponsors will provide another six months of financial support, start-up costs, and up to a year of social and emotional support.

More information on the BVOR program, including the “RAP and the BVOR program Questions and Answers”, can also be found on the Refugee Sponsorship Training Program’s website.

In addition to the BVOR Program, the Department may also enter into other cost-sharing initiatives where financial support is provided for individual or group-processed Privately Sponsored Refugees (PSRs) or BVORs either directly to the refugees or, more exceptionally, directly to a sponsoring group; details will vary depending on the nature of the initiative.

Due to the potential impact on the RAP budget, all cost-sharing or blended initiatives involving RAP funds are approved at the national level by NHQ-IN-ROD and involve consultation with other branches such as finance. Separate instructions regarding implementation will be provided for any cost-sharing initiatives as they arise and receive departmental approval at the national level.

Income support for BVORs before and after a breakdown

In the event of a breakdown, or a situation where RAP support is required before a breakdown is declared, BVORs are eligible to access RAP income support and services (as needed) in order to ensure their continued financial needs are met and that they have continued access to resettlement support.

Prior to the breakdown, the International Network – Resettlement Operations Division’s Resettlement Services Assurance Team (RSAT) will work with the sponsor to determine whether the sponsorship can be continued (e.g., by assessing residency requirements in the case of a secondary migration, to mediate between parties in a dispute situation, or to find a replacement sponsor). If the sponsorship cannot continue, the RSAT will declare a breakdown and inform the local offices at both the original destination and new destination (if applicable). The Resettlement Services Unit will also provide guidance to the local office on continuation of income support, if needed. Typically the period of income support may continue if the client is still in need of income support, up until their 12-month commitment period is over, or until they become self-sufficient.

Typically any additional RAP Income support will commence effective as of the date of breakdown as indicated on the breakdown letter from the RSAT, however in certain situations urgent support may be needed prior to the breakdown and the Resettlement Services Unit will communicate this guidance with the local office on a case-by-case basis.

If the breakdown (or need for income support before the breakdown is declared) occurred after the 6‑month RAP income support period has already ended, the local office in the community of residence should re-open the RAP-IS file in GCMS and create a new commitment with a new start date typically effective on the date of the breakdown (as confirmed by the RSAT), and update the commitment in SAP so that income support may be provided based on the current and ongoing financial needs of the BVOR. 

For more information if the breakdown was due to secondary migrations, see: Secondary Migration of BVORs.

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