Refugee Sponsorship Match Canada

How is a match made between a sponsorship group and a refugee?

There are two ways to match a sponsoring group and a refugee.

1) Sponsor-referred: The sponsorship group suggests the name of a refugee or refugee family it is interested in sponsoring. The group may have obtained the referral from an overseas contact, a friend, the relative of a member of the organization or elsewhere. SAHs/CGs, G5s and CSs submit the sponsorship application on behalf of the sponsor-referred refugee to CPO-W.

A group that would like to refer a refugee applicant for sponsorship should:

  • consider whether or not the person is likely to be eligible for the private sponsorship program. Ineligible applicants will be refused;
  • determine whether the person has relatives or friends in Canada. In most cases, refugees should be resettled in their relative’s community.

To be sponsored as a refugee by a Group of Five or a Community Sponsor, the principal applicant must already have refugee status (unless you are trying to sponsor a Syrian or Iraqi refugee). Having refugee status means that an authorized body has determined that an individual meets its refugee definition. This authorized body can be the UNHCR or the government of the country where the asylum seeker is currently living (i.e., foreign state).

A document proving recognized refugee status that has been issued by the UNHCR or a foreign state must accompany the refugee sponsorship application submitted to the Centralized Processing Office in Winnipeg (CPO-W).

Principal Applicants without refugee status recognized by the UNHCR or a foreign state can only be sponsored by a Sponsorship Agreement Holder (SAH). A list of the SAHs in Canada is updated regularly to reflect all groups/organizations which have signed sponsorship agreements with the Government of Canada.

For Syrian and Iraqi refugees

As of September 19, 2015, the Government of Canada has temporarily exempted Syrians and Iraqis fleeing the current conflict from the requirement to provide proof of refugee status in order to be sponsored. This means that a Group of Five or Community Sponsor can submit an application without a document proving recognized refugee status.

2) Visa office-referred: The Matching Centre at CIC national headquarters in Ottawa administers an inventory of visa office-referred (VOR) cases that have already been selected but for which CIC works to find a private sponsor to match with the refugee identified initially by the UNHCR. VOR cases are normally ready to travel to Canada within one to four months of being matched with a sponsorship group. However, delays may occur in some travel-ready cases because of problems in arranging exit permits, travel documents, etc. Once the sponsorship is signed, the local Citizenship and Immigration Centre works with the Matching Centre and the visa office to provide the sponsorship group with more accurate information regarding departure and arrival dates, as well as any particular settlement needs that might exist in transit and in the first few weeks after the refugees have arrived in Canada.

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