2.A Refugees: From Eligibility to Arrival
A.2 What resources and partnerships are required to process privately sponsored refugees?
(i) What steps are required to process a privately sponsored refugee?
How Canada Does It
The main steps required to process a privately sponsored refugee include:
- Identifying a refugee case;
- Assessing the sponsor’s eligibility to sponsor (see 2.B.3);
- Assessing the refugee applicant’s eligibility to be granted refugee protection by Canada (see 2.A.1);
- Interviewing and collecting biometric information to determine the refugee’s admissibility to Canada, including medical, criminality, and security screening (see 2.A.6);
- Issuing a visa to travel to Canada;
- Coordinating travel, including arranging for travel documentation, exit permits, and all flight logistics (typically in partnership with the International Organization for Migration) (see 2.A.8); and
- Notifying sponsors of the refugee(s)’ arrival date and time (see 2.B.6(ii)).
Private sponsoring groups in Canada may identify refugees they would like to sponsor by either (a) specifically naming the refugee (often a family member or acquaintance of a Canadian resident who may or may not be a member of the sponsoring group); or (b) by selecting a refugee from a list supplied by Canada. In the latter case, the refugee is referred to a Canadian mission overseas by UNHCR or another partner agency and is subsequently selected to be resettled to Canada either through the Government Assisted Refugee (GAR) program or through private sponsorship through one of three program streams:
- Visa Office-Referred (VOR) sponsorship where the private sponsor is responsible for both the financial and settlement support of the refugees;
- Blended Visa Office-Referred (BVOR) sponsorship, where Canada and the private sponsor share the financial costs of resettlement and the private sponsor is responsible for providing settlement support; or
- Joint Assistance Sponsorship (JAS) where the government is responsible for all the financial support (normally for two years) and the private sponsor is responsible for all the social and settlement support of the government-assisted refugee.
When assessing the refugee’s eligibility to be granted protection by Canada, the visa officer considers three main factors: (1) The applicant is a refugee in need of protection under the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees or a person in similar circumstances as defined in Canadian legislation; (2) The applicant’s refugee claim is credible; and (3) The applicant has no durable solution within a reasonable period of time other than resettlement to Canada. For more information on refugee eligibility, see 2.A.1)
When determining admissibility, officers must assess the following elements: (1) Health (i.e. does the refugee pose a threat to public health or safety); (2) Criminality; and (3) Security. For more information see 2.A.6.