Visa office interviews are conducted to assess the refugee's eligibility for resettlement to Canada as a permanent resident and also assess his or her admissibility to enter Canada.
As a Core Team, it is important to help them prepare for the interview. Read over the fact sheet provided by so you are aware of the process and what will be required. Once the refugee has received an interview date, they will be much better prepared if you have walked them through the process and explained their rights and responsibilities. Many refugees have been victims of abuse by authorities. Helping them understand this interview will empower them to tell their own story honestly and with the confidence of knowing that they are safe.
Settlement planning requires good communication, and one of the ways to help with that once the family arrives is to be able to give them a binder with all their important information in one place. You can read more about that here.
Sponsoring groups have found it helpful to use a simplified settlement checklist as they work towards the independence and empowerment of a newcomer family. All the same elements are included, without the details of the who, what and where so it is easier to read and follow along for completeness.
Please be aware that many of these tasks (i.e. home appliance orientation) may take several repetitions over the course of several days before the task is "complete."
The first 6 weeks of settlement are the most time-consuming for sponsoring groups and newcomers. Appointments with government agencies for health cards, etc., opening a bank account, seeing doctors and dentists after years of absense all take time and coordination of schedules. This checklist will enable groups to be sure all the most important tasks are completed.
Arriving in a new country with new faces, new appliances, a new language, a new currency can all be overwhelming without the added challenge of having lived as a refugee for the past several years. There is alot of new information for a newcomer to absorb.
We strongly encourage sponsorship groups to prepare a binder to give to the family soon after arrival. The family will be able to review information, pictures and maps at anytime, reinforcing anything sponsors have previously shared.
As the Core Team meets together to plan and prepare for settlement, part of your preparation responsibility is to take time to learn about the refugee(s) country of origin and culture in preparation for their arrival. Choose the best resource for your team, and then review the cultural basics presented there. You could read through a segment when you meet together, and then discuss any questions or issues that are raised, or one person could present to the team.
Whatever means you choose, your SAH will ask the Team Lead to confirm the sponsorship group has done some cultural sensitivity training prior to the refugee's arrival.
Culture Crossing Guide covers basics of greetings, communication style, personal space, eye contact, views of time, gestures, gender roles and taboos for a number of different cultures.
EveryCulture.com is another resource that may be good for your group.
If you find other helpful links or resources, please contact us. We will add those links that may be helpful for others too.
Now that the sponsorship is moving forward in an official capacity, this is a good time to send an introductory email or message if you have not already been in contact with the refugee. If you have already connected with them, consider a weekly skype or WhatsApp call. One of the challenges for refugees is losing hope. By making a point to stay connected, you have the opportunity to keep that hope alive, to begin the friendship while you're still on different continents, to be a voice of encouragement as your team keeps abreast of the difficulties they continue to face as they wait for the application to be processed.