Refugee Sponsorship

  • Perhaps you have never considered sponsoring a refugee to resettle in your community; or perhaps you have wanted to bring a displaced family to Canada for a long time now. Whatever your experience, this is the place to take a first look at Canada's Private Sponsorship of Refugees program to see if this is something you and your church could undertake on behalf of another; to put hands and feet to God's call to care for strangers, and to loose the cords of injustice.

  • Starting a Refugee SponsorshipStage 1 – SAH process

    Getting Started:

    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.

  • canada logoYes!

    Use this one-page resource outlining 10 practical ways former refugees are good for Canada to inform the people in your circles.

    pdfAre-Refugees-Good-For-Canada-poster.PDF

    Statistics show that refugees not only benefit from safety in Canada, but they also embrace the opportunity to build a new life. Over time, they make important contributions to the country's economy, and to their communities.

    Former refugees are hardworking people and contribute to Canada's economy. They have an unemployment rate of 9%, close to that of Canadian citizens by birth (6%).

  • airportHow exciting that finally after months or years of planning & preparation, the time has arrived to meet the family at the airport.

    The SAH will have received and forwarded to the CG the Notice of Arrival Transmission (NAT) from IRCC about 10 days prior which includes the refugee(s) specific travel itinerary, the names, birthdates, and gender of family members. The NAT notification also includes languages spoken, any medical needs that have been identified, if there are family/friends of the PA already in Canada, and of course the SAH and CG details.

  • In 2018, IRCC issued RAP rates for each province that sponsoring groups must use to generate their budget. 

    This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to receive a template specific to your province and family composition. In your email, please include:

    • the name of your community, and
    • the names & birthdates of each member of the family you are sponsoring.
    • any other information that would affect the budget - i.e. pregnancy, health concerns, etc.
  • meetingOnce you have formed your core team, chosen the sponsorship type, and have begun to assign team member roles with at least the Representative (Team Lead) and Treasurer in place, you are now ready to approach your church board.

    The sponsorship does not become 'official' and legally binding until you sign and submit the required documents for the Sponsorship Agreement Holder (SAH) and the forms required by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).

  • Refugee Sponsorship Forms CompetionAt this point, a Core Team will be in place, the Church Board will have given their approval, and fundraising has begun. Once your team has 25% of the required funds in place it is time to select a refugee family if that hasn't been done yet, and complete the application forms.

  • computer keyboardNow 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.

  • people africanAs 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.

  • Click on "Events" above to see events currently available in our communities or on-line.

  • Core team structureOnce it has been determined that a group would like to pursue the sponsorship of a refugee family, one of the first things to be done will be to assemble a Core Team.

    Each sponsoring group must function with a minimum of five members who will oversee the sponsorship commitments for both pre-arrival and the one year settlement support of the refugee family. The core team will discern together who is responsible for each task, and together recruit additional volunteer helpers for a larger support network.

    A well-staffed team usually has a Sponsorship Group Representative, treasurer, and a team leader representing each task area involved in resettlement: housing, transportation, furnishings and clothing, homemaking, education, medical, employment, finance, etc.

    You can access the How to Structure a Sponsorship Core Team template here.

  • grace churchOn April 7, 2018 I had the pleasure of chatting with Andrea Bowman of Grace Church, Newmarket about their church's refugee sponsorship experience. Grace Church worked with Mennonite Central Committee as their SAH to bring a family of 8 from Syria via Beirut, Lebanon, to Newmarket. Unfortunately, just before the family was about to travel, their youngest child died and understandably, their departure from Lebanon was delayed. In October 2017, the family of 7 touched down at YYZ and their journey to resettle in Canada began.

    RSI: How did this particular sponsorship journey begin for Grace?

  • wilderness flowerA poem by Pastor Farshid Fathi

    Born in 1979, Farshid has been working in ministry since 1997. In the years 2001 – 2005, he was instrumental in planting 48 underground house churches in his native Iran.

    On 25 December 2010, Farshid was arrested along with a number of other church leaders. He was kept 361 days in solitary confinement in Evin Prison, often enduring severe interrogation. In March 2011 Farshid was sentenced to six years in prison for acting against national security through evangelism and promoting Christianity. In 2014 prison guards broke Farshid’s foot and thumb during a prison search. Farshid was later transferred to Rajaei Shahr Prison and released on 21 December 2015. While Farshid was in prison, his wife took their two children to Canada, where they have applied for citizenship. 

    Today, he remains in Turkey registered as an asylum seeker, but still not recognised as a refugee. Toronto area churches, this is an opportunity for you!


    My wilderness is painful, but lovely.
    Some parts of my wilderness are covered with thorns and hurt my feet,
    but I love it, and that's why I call it 'lovely pain'.

    My wilderness is so hot that my tears disappear before falling on the ground,
    but it is cool under Your shadows.

  • Sponsor refugees identified as being most in need of resettlement by the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR)!

    After the success of last year's initiative, the University of Ottawa Refugee Hub, the Shapiro Foundation and G. Barrie Landry have launched a new fund to encourage BVOR sponsorship.

    Watch this video to learn more about the BVOR initiative.

    This new fund will fully cover the sponsor's portion of each BVOR settlement costs.  Groups will remain responsible for collecting in-kind donations and funding to cover start-up costs such as furniture, kitchen items and clothing.

    Applications must be received in our office by August 15, 2019 to allow time for processing and submission in time for the August 31 deadline.

    For the first time, qualifying SAHs will be able to apply for substantial funds to help with the administrative costs associated with supporting increased BVOR sponsorships.

    Refugees sponsored with the support of this fund will arrive in Canada before December 31, 2019.

  • In the Fall of 2015, AGC churches began a journey together into the heartbreaking world of refugees, and the blessed opportunities we have as Canadians to sponsor them. These are our stories. 

  • Post-sponsorship transition helpIt is essential that when the sponsorship period ends, the newcomer’s financial dependency on the sponsors must end too. While it may take much longer to truly settle and feel at home here, sponsors must work to support a transition to self-sufficiency. Community connections and friendships often continue indefinitely.

    Supporting Independence from the Beginning:

    Take active steps throughout the sponsorship to give newcomers the tools to do things for themselves (even when it might be easier to do things for them) including:

  • binder

    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.

  • canada flagVisa 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 RSTP 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.

  • RHP 2019The Refugee Highway Partnership is a network of Christians, churches and organizations who have found common cause in the call of Jesus to “welcome the stranger” and extend hospitality to those in need.

    The Roundtable is where we gather - the table is Round because we’re in this together and need one another’s voices. It’s a place of inspiration, learning, sharing, and equipping. It is a space where diverse ministries, services, and individuals find one another in order to bring about action that would please the heart of Jesus, as He sees us welcoming the stranger in our midst and showing the mercy that He first offered us.

    This year's theme is "PLACE" looking into thoughts from Exodus 33:21:

    “Then the LORD said, "There is a place near me where you may stand on a rock.”

    Location: The Peoples Church | 374 Sheppard Ave E | Toronto, ON
    Date & Time: Wed, Oct 23, 2019 @ 9:00am - Friday, Oct 25, 2019 @ 2;30pm

    Register on-line here.

  • Each year, millions of people around the world are forced to flee their homeland to escape persecution, war or sever human rights abuses. Often these people are permanently displaced and are never able to return home. As followers of Jesus, we are invited by our compassionate God of Justice to keep in step with Him and to bring His light and love to people who have been forcibly displaced from their homes to become foreigners and strangers in a country of refuge.

    As Canadian citizens and permanent residents, we have the unique opportunity to provide refugees living abroad protection and the ability to build a new life in Canada through the Private Sponsorship of Refugees (PSR) program.

Join Our Newsletter

New to the world of Refugee Sponsorship? Become informed. Join the conversation.