Creative Partnership for a Life-saving Opportunity
The Private Sponsorship of Refugees in Canada

(from Iranian Refugees At Risk Spring 96/Summer 96)

Unlike the US, private groups and organizations in Canada can directly sponsor a refugee residing overseas to resettle in Canada. (please see box) For many asylum seekers sponsorship in Canada means living a life of dignity, without fear of persecution, and for some, it can even mean the opportunity for life itself.

Since fall 1995, Iranian Refugees' Alliance has actively sought a viable way to provide this opportunity for Iranian asylum seekers in Turkey whose cases have been closed by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and are at imminent risk of deportation. Consultation with several church groups holding Master Agreements for sponsorship (see box) has revealed that finding sponsors is indeed very difficult.

Due to resource constraints, sponsoring organizations are already overwhelmed by the vast number of urgent demands for sponsorships and are limited in the number of refugees they can sponsor .

Nevertheless, experience has shown that the support from refugees' ethnic or national community have facilitated sponsorships to a great extent. As part of its mission to assist at-risk Iranian refugees, Iranian Refugees' Alliance is glad to be the first Iranian group making itself liable for sharing the financial and social obligations for sponsorships.

Fortunately, our commitment for partnership have so far resulted in sponsorship of 16 at-risk Iranian families in Turkey by the Anglican Church of Canada. We hope that by meeting the following objectives, we will meet our commitment for these 16 families and be able to find sponsors for more at-risk refugees in Turkey during the following three months:

Practical Obligations:

Assisting new comers in finding accommodation and household needs, seeking long-term employment, registering in English classes, enrolling children in school and adults in occupational training courses when required, and introducing the newcomers to local services.

Financial Guarantees:

Raising a minimum of $50,000 (US) to ensure meeting our obligations. In order to meet these obligations, Iranian Refugees' Alliance needs your continuous support. We invite everyone, especially the Iranian communities in the US and Canada to get on board with us. Your assistance in practical areas and/or your financial contributions guarantees that the above needs are provided, and can make a profound difference in a refugee's life.

Detailed information about our partnership and ways you can help are available.

Some Facts about Private Sponsorship of Refugees in Canada

Private sponsorship of a refugee in Canada is a one year commitment whereby a group (citizens or permanent residents) agree to provide the support necessary to enable a refugee to adjust and resettle in Canada. Direct sponsorship entitles the sponsoring group to have an overseas Visa Officer interview a named refugee to determine whether or not s/he meets Canada's requirements for resettlement.
There are two ways to sponsor refugees:
  • Group of Five or More - The group must be composed of at least 5 people whose aggregate income must be at least $100,000 per year. The members of the group must sign documents stating their annual income, and committ to the financial support of the refugee(s) for one year. The government will investigate the financial strength of the group before approval of the sponsorship.
  • Sponsorship under a Master Agreement Holder - Many Canadian churches and organizations have signed agreements with the federal government whereby they agree to stand behind any of their constituent groups wishing to sponsor a refugee family. Therefore the government no longer requires members of individual sponsoring groups to provide financial guarantees. However, the sponsoring group must scrupulously plan to be fully responsible for the emotional, financial, and friendship needs of the sponsored refugee since resources at the level of the parent organization are extremely limited.
Financial guarantees are required and should be taken very seriously by sponsoring groups. Refugees come to Canada as Permanent Residents and are, therefore, eligible to seek employment and attend language classes. However, during the one year period after arrival in Canada, they are not permitted to receive social assistance from the government.
Sponshorship does not guarantee admission for resettlement. Refugee applicants must convince the overseas Canadian Visa Officer interviewing them that they meet Canada's refugee eligibility criteria (based on Canada's interpretation of the UN Convention definition) as well as immigration admissibility criteria (being able to successfully establish in Canada). Persons considered by the Visa Officer to meet the above requirements will be allowed to Canada after having successfully completed a medical examination, and provided that a security check does not reveal anything to warrant refusal.
Compiled from information provided by The Working Group on Refugee Resettlement and Inter-Church Committee Committee for Refugees Sponsorship Group.

for more information about Citizenship & Immigration in Canada click here: Private Sponsorship of Refugees Frequently Asked Questions