Government of Canada increases sponsorship opportunities for Sponsorship Agreement Holders
February 17, 2023—Ottawa—Canada continues to be a global leader in refugee resettlement and integration. Since the Private Sponsorship of Refugees (PSR) Program was launched over 4 decades ago, Canadians and permanent residents have come together to offer protection and a safe, permanent home for tens of thousands of refugees each year. Key to the program’s success are over 130 organizations, known as sponsorship agreement holders (SAHs), who sponsor refugees year after year.
As the program continues to grow, so too has the number of these community organizations who want to support refugees. In recognition of this growth, the Honourable Sean Fraser, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, today announced that the number of refugees that SAHs can sponsor is increasing to 13,500 in 2023. This represents a 10-fold increase from when the cap was introduced in 2012, or an increase of 12,150 spaces available to SAHs.
The additional cap spaces will allow new SAHs to get their operations off the ground, while helping experienced organizations continue to grow. These organizations manage all aspects of the sponsorship process, from identifying refugees and submitting applications to providing critical support to sponsored newcomers.
The PSR Program complements Canada’s other 2 resettlement programs: the Government-Assisted Refugee Program (GAR) and the Blended Visa Office-Referred (BVOR) Program. Together, they help Canada welcome more refugees each year than the Government of Canada could resettle alone and are one of the many ways Canada is working to achieve its goal of welcoming over 83,500 privately sponsored refugees by 2025.
Both Canada’s PSR and BVOR programs are models for other countries around the world. Through its participation in the Global Refugee Sponsorship Initiative (GRSI), Canada encourages and supports the adoption and expansion of community sponsorship programs tailored to local needs. The GRSI has supported the development of programs in Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Germany, Ireland, New Zealand, Spain, the United Kingdom and, most recently, the United States.
“Our government is increasing the number of refugees that can be sponsored by sponsorship agreement holders to 13,500, a 10-fold increase from when the cap was first introduced in 2012. Today’s announcement will support the vital work of these community organizations so they can continue helping refugees from around the world settle in Canada. I want to thank these partners, who make this program possible year after year. Your work is a testament to the compassion of Canadians, and we’re grateful for all that you do.”
– The Honourable Sean Fraser, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship
“We commend the government’s commitment to refugee resettlement during this time of unprecedented global displacement and the recognition of the importance of sponsorship agreement holders in quality resettlement. As interest in the program continues to grow among Canadian citizens and permanent residents, we look forward to continuing to develop and strengthen this impactful partnership.”
– Kaylee Perez, SAH Council Chair, and National Migration and Resettlement Operations Coordinator at the Mennonite Central Committee Canada
“Sponsorship agreement holders and their community partners contribute roughly $135 million annually in sponsorship funds, in addition to their own operating costs and service delivery costs. The sponsorship community is pleased with the increase in sponsorship spaces for 2023 and commends the important work IRCC is undertaking to address the significant processing backlogs. We hope to see high numbers of landings in 2023 for all PSR Program resettled newcomers.”
– Lena Awwad, SAH Council Vice Chair, and Research and Programs Director at Islamic Family and Social Services Association
The PSR Program officially began in 1978 and marked the first time Canadians were able to get involved in the resettlement of refugees. Between 1979 and 2020, more than 350,000 refugees came to Canada through the program.
SAHs sign agreements with Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) to sponsor a certain number of refugees each year for resettlement to Canada. Sponsors provide income and settlement support to refugee families for the sponsorship period, which is typically 12 months. This support includes ongoing monthly costs for basic necessities (such as housing, food and public transportation, furniture and clothing) and social and emotional support.
The number of SAHs across Canada (excluding Quebec) has steadily grown over the past 5 years—from 114 in January 2019 to 138 in January 2023.
In 2022, 51 organizations applied to become SAHs. Assessments of these applications will be completed in early 2023, and those approved will become SAHs later this year.
Under IRCC’s 2023–2025 Immigration Levels Plan, Canada continues to be a global leader in refugee resettlement and integration, resettling over 144,000 refugees, including over 83,500 privately sponsored refugees, in the next 3 years.
SAHs sponsor a large portion of privately sponsored refugees, and the rest of them are sponsored by groups of five, community sponsors and Quebec-based sponsors.
Contacts for media only:
Bahoz Dara Aziz
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada
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