Thank you for your interest in refugee sponsorship!
In 1946, CLWR was created to help people displaced by the Second World War. Our commitment to refugees continues to this day through refugee resettlement. Canadian Lutheran World Relief (CLWR) is a Sponsorship Agreement Holder with the Government of Canada. Through CLWR, congregations and groups (who become our Constituent Groups) are able to sponsor refugees from abroad.
Sponsors are responsible for helping refugees settle in their communities during their first year in Canada. A year of support is an obligation for private sponsorship of refugees. This includes financial support to cover settlement expenses, as well as people available to help with settlement orientation and activities. Ultimately, the goal of private sponsorship is to empower refugees that will lead to self-sufficiency and integration into their community of settlement.
In order to qualify for sponsorship, a refugee applicant must meet the definition of a refugee. According to the UN Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, a refugee is: “A person who owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion is outside the country of his nationality and is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country; or who, not having a nationality and being outside the country of his former habitual residence as a result of such events, is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to return to it.”
Types of Refugee Sponsorship
Blended Visa Office-Referred (BVOR):
- A cost-sharing program with the Canadian government. The department of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) provides 6 months of financial support, and the constituent group (CG) provides the other 6 months of financial support.
- The CG provides the settlement support for the whole year.
- Refugees are ready to travel to Canada within 2 to 4 months, pending a match with a Canadian sponsor.
- The CG chooses or names the refugee they want to sponsor, sometimes it is the relative/friend of a member in the local community (i.e. family-link).
- Settlement expenses are covered by the CG, or by a relative of the refugees in Canada.
- Refugees must undergo a refugee status determination process at a Canadian visa office abroad. Since they have not be cleared for resettlement to Canada, their case processing can take longer.
To sponsor refugees with CLWR, CGs should form a Refugee Committee. The committee will need to create a task list, and appoint task leaders for activities such as:
- Finances and fundraising
- Housing and furnishings
- Health care services
- Language training and education
Settlement activities include, but are not limited to:
- Picking up refugees from the airport
- Finding temporary housing until affordable permanent housing is available
- Connecting with local settlement service providers and settlement counsellors
- Accessing provincial health programs, SIN, and Canada Child Benefit (if applicable)
- Assisting with opening a bank account and budgeting
- Registering adults at language training classes, and if applicable, registering children at school
- Providing guidance about access to the Canadian job market
- Initially, provide transportation to and from appointments
- Provide access to interpretation and translation services
- Offer welcome, friendship and emotional support
- Orientation of community resources and public transportation
- Be available to provide support when unexpected needs surface
Once sponsored refugees arrive in Canada, they are permanent residents and eligible for provincial health coverage and a Social Insurance Number. Their sponsorship year starts the day they arrive in Canada, so their financial and settlement needs must be covered by the sponsoring group, and they should not be accessing social assistance programs during this period. Failure to meet to the sponsorship obligations can result in a sponsorship breakdown, which should be avoided at all costs.
The IRCC requires that sponsors cover both rent and daily needs expenses for 1 full year. The monthly financial support provided must least meet the minimum, or be equivalent to, the amounts in the Refugee Assistance Program (RAP) in the community of settlement. The amounts differ based on the province and city. You can find the RAP rates for your area here: http://www.rstp.ca/en/sponsorship-responsibilities/resettlement-assistance-program-rap-rates/. The monthly income support would cover: rent, utilities, food and incidentals, adult public transit passes, and communication allowance.
Sponsoring groups must also provide refugees with start-up costs, which are a one-time payment and/or in-kind support for establishing their household. You can find more information here: http://www.rstp.ca/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/Start-up.pdf. CLWR staff will assist your sponsoring group with finding out the required amount to sponsor a refugee family or individual in your area.
A contribution of funds to sponsor a family member through CLWR is not eligible for a charitable receipt as there is a personal benefit (private benevolence) to the contributor. These funds are refundable if the sponsorship cannot proceed.
We strongly advise you to read the following information on your responsibilities as a sponsor and the rights of privately-sponsored refugees:
- Responsibilities of Sponsorship Groups: http://www.rstp.ca/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/Responsibilities-of-Sponsorship-Groups-Availability-of-IRCC-Resettlemen….pdf
- The Rights of Privately-Sponsored Refugees: http://www.rstp.ca/en/your-rights-as-a-privately-sponsored-refugee
- Handbook for Sponsoring Groups (RSTP): http://www.rstp.ca/en/resources/hand-book-for-sponsoring-groups/
If your group would like to share your refugee sponsorship experience with CLWR, along with photos, please get in touch us.
Senait Biadgilign – Refugee Resettlement Manager (BC, AB, SK, MB)
Email | Phone: 604.540.9760
Gillian Nigh Milbrandt – Refugee Resettlement Assistant Manager (ON, Maritimes)
Email | Phone: 519.725.8777
If you cannot sponsor a refugee, but you would still like to help with refugee resettlement, you can donate to support refugee sponsorship activities of CLWR. Donate now to support refugee sponsorship.