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
- submit pre-screening forms for any church-referred refugees
- begin fundraising as needed
There are three 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.
- The SAH Association contains an online sponsorship “guidebook”, and
- 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, and 50% of the required funds have been raised, 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
- take the required training
- start to connect with local settlement agencies
- start to prepare a detailed settlement plan
- start to prepare a detailed budget plan
- finalize fundraising requirements
Once the required forms are completed, the SAH reviews both the group and refugee portions of the application to be sure information is complete and correct before forwarding the application to. As the application process advances in Canada & overseas, the sponsorship group will continue to develop the settlement plan, budget, fundraise, take team training, and collect household goods in preparation for arrival.
Stage 2 – Processing at ROC-O
An application to resettle privately sponsored refugees to Canada has two parts - a sponsorship group portion, and a refugee portion.
The Resettlement Operations Centre in Ottawa (ROC-O) receives and reviews the full application (both portions) to make sure it is complete. You will get a confirmation of receipt within 30 days after filing.
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 assess the group portion first. 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 generally includes in-person interviews, and will always include medical checks, and security screening. 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 2019 that target is 19,000 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
Refugees arrive in Canada with Permanent Residence status. 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, provincial RAP rates, and provincial health care providers are detailed here.