Community sponsorship in Canada

Private Sponsorship is the resettlement of a refugee where financial costs and settlement support are provided by private groups or organisations. In Canada, private sponsorship of refugees (PSR) has been part of the resettlement landscape since the Indochinese refugee crisis in the late 1970s and is estimated to have resettled around 280,000 refugees since that time. Typically this has occurred via religious, ethnic, community, or service organisations who are Sponsorship Agreement Holders (SAHs) or Groups of Five (five or more Canadian citizens or permanent residents). All sponsors agree to give “emotional and financial support to the refugee for the full sponsorship period” and raise the equivalent of one year of social security which is held in a trust account and paid to the sponsored refugees to meet their settlement expenses. The required cash amount can be reduced by in-kind commitments of housing, clothing, furniture, household goods and food.

To resettle in Canada individuals must be referred by UNHCR, a designated referral organisation, or a private sponsorship group. Government-Assisted Refugees (GARs) are Convention refugees referred by the UNHCR and receive immediate support services and income support from the federal government up to one year post arrival. Blended Visa Office-Referred Refugees (BVORs) are Convention refugees referred by the UNHCR who are matched with private sponsors and receive a blend of government and private financial support. Privately Sponsored Refugees are Convention or country of asylum class refugees who receive financial and other support from a private sponsor for one year after arrival.

Read more on how community sponsorship is working in Canada