Stage 1 – SAH process
As you consider whether you and others in your church could sponsor a refugee person or family, interested persons will:
- learn about the distinct types of sponsorships
- speak to the church leadership about their interest in refugee sponsorship
- form a team with a minimum of 5 people
- begin fundraising as needed
There are two other sources of excellent information and material that are available to anyone interested in learning more about the Private Sponsorship of Refugees.
- The Canadian Council for Refugees (CCR) has a great toolkit outlining the entire process.
- RSTP has several useful resources.
Pre-submission Next Steps:
Once the church leadership agrees to move forward with refugee sponsorship, and there is a core team of 5 (minimum) individuals who are committed to the process both pre- and post-arrival, then your team is ready for these Next Steps.
During this stage of the process, teams will:
- be matched with refugee(s) as either a PSR, BVOR or JAS sponsorship
- complete the required forms
- prepare an initial settlement plan
- prepare an initial budget plan
- finalize fundraising requirements
Once the required forms are completed, the SAH representative reviews both the group and refugee portions of the application to be sure information is complete and correct before forwarding the application to ROC-O. As the application process advances in Canada & overseas, the sponsorship group will continue to develop the settlement plan, fundraise, take team training, and collect household goods, and connect with settlement agencies in preparation for arrival.
Stage 2 – Processing at ROC-O
The application to resettle privately sponsored refugees to Canada has two parts - a sponsorship portion, and a refugee portion.
The Resettlement Operations Centre in Ottawa (ROC-O) receives the full application (both portions) to make sure it is complete.
If the application is found to be incomplete, it will be returned to the SAH to correct within a given date.
If an application is complete, IRCC will then assess the sponsor portion. The sponsoring group must demonstrate they have the financial capacity, the personnel, a workable budget and a personalized settlement plan. If the group portion is approved, the file will be given a "G number," and the SAH will be notified. The application will then be forwarded to the appropriate Visa Office overseas for assessment of the refugee portion.
Stage 3 – Processing at the Visa Post
Processing to assess the refugee portion at the visa office always includes in-person interviews. If that interview is successful, medical checks, and security screening will follow. Learn more about the assessment process here.
Please be aware that due to back-logged application levels and other delaying factors, it can take a year or more to receive a decision. To track the status of the application online through the Client Application Status query web-page, the G-number along with the applicant's name and birthdate are required to use the status feature.
NOTE: The Government of Canada sets the number of applications that can be processed in a given year in the Annual Immigration Levels Plan. In 2021 that target is 22,500 privately sponsored refugees. IRCC generally processes application on a first-in, first-out basis. However, backlogs at some Visa Offices may affect expected time-lines.
Stage 4 – Arrival & Settlement Support
Former refugees arrive in Canada with Permanent Residence status. Their "refugee" days are over and they should not be referred to as "refugees" any longer. With the assistance of their sponsoring group, they have much to do and learn, particularly during the first weeks & months of settlement. Throughout the settlement period, sponsoring groups will:
- refer to their settlement plan and checklist
- fulfill their financial & support obligations
- be in regular contact with the newcomers and provide updates to church leadership
- submit financial and monitoring reports to the SAH office once a quarter
- discuss any settlement challenges with the SAH representative as they arise
Sponsorship responsibilities, the Minimum Financial Support Calculator, and provincial health care providers are detailed here.