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All Eligibility FAQ

1. Who can be sponsored?

Persons who have fled their country of origin and are residing in a country of asylum other than Canada as refugees can be resettled to Canada by a private refugee sponsoring group, if they meet the definition of Convention Refugee or member of Country of Asylum class, have no other durable solution (cannot return to country of origin and cannot locally integrate where they reside now) and have the ability to successfully settle in Canada. If the refugee applicant is being sponsored by a Group of Five or Community Sponsor, the refugee must have refugee status as recognized by the state (in the country of asylum) or the UNHCR, and documentation to prove this. The refugee applicant must also meet the admissibility criteria for refugee resettlement to Canada, which include a medical, security and criminality screening.

2. I am a refugee claimant in Canada – can I be sponsored?

No, only refugees who reside in a country of asylum abroad can qualify under the private refugee sponsorship program.

3. Does the refugee applicant need to be registered with the UN?

Refugee registration with the UNHCR is not part of the eligibility criteria for refugee resettlement to Canada through the Private Sponsorship of Refugees Program. However, if the refugee applicant is being sponsored by a Group of Five or Community Sponsor, he/she will need to prove that he/she has refugee status as recognized by the UNHCR or the State (country of asylum). Refugee registration is often the first step in refugee status determination process. In general, registration with the UNHCR as a ‘person of concern’ and refugee status as recognized by the UNHCR adds weight to any refugee resettlement application.

4. I don’t have a mandate letter or refugee status certificate from the UNHCR or any government. Can I still be privately sponsored?

If you do not have refugee status recognized by the UNHCR or the authorities of the country you currently live in, you cannot be sponsored by a Group of Five or Community Sponsor. However, if you meet the other eligibility criteria you may be able to be sponsored by a Sponsorship Agreement Holder.

5. The conditions in my country are currently very bad. Due to the unrest and violence, I can no longer keep myself and my family safe. Can someone or a group in Canada sponsor us as refugees?

No, only refugees who have fled their country of origin or country of habitual residence and are now living in a country other than Canada can be considered for private refugee sponsorship. Such persons must meet the eligibility and admissibility criteria for refugee resettlement to Canada. Please see here for more information.

6. I am a refugee and have recently returned to my home country because of the unrest in the country of asylum. The conditions in my home country are still not very safe and there is no future here for myself and my family. Can I be privately sponsored as a refugee?

No, only refugees who have fled their country of origin or country of habitual residence and are now living in a country other than their country of origin and other than Canada can be considered for private refugee sponsorship.

7. The refugee applicant is in Turkey. I heard something about a moratorium banning refugee sponsorships from Turkey. Is this still in place?

No, there is no longer a moratorium on refugee sponsorship out of Turkey. Please see Guidelines for Sponsoring out of Turkey for more information on Syrian and Iraqi sponsorships. Other refugees in Turkey can be sponsored as long as they meet the other eligibility and admissibility criteria.

8. Are we able to sponsor Syrian refugees?

There is no refugee resettlement movement initiated by the UNHCR or the Canadian Government at the moment, however SAHs with the required allocations can sponsor Syrian refugees as long as they meet the eligibility and admissibility criteria set out in the PSR program.

9. Can we sponsor Palestinian refugees who were born in Syria and are under the mandate of UNRWA and have now moved to Lebanon/Jordan due to the unrest in Syria? Are they ineligible for resettlement?

If a refugee falls under the mandate of the UNRWA, as opposed to the UNHCR, they will not be able to obtain the refugee status from the UNHCR and therefore sponsorship through a Group of Five and Community Sponsor may not be possible. However, they may be eligible for sponsorship by a SAH if they meet the criteria of the Country of Asylum class definition.

10. Are we able to sponsor Rwandan refugees, or is Rwanda considered a safe country now?

The UNHCR invoked a cessation clause for Rwandans in June of 2012. For that reason, obtaining a refugee status certificate will not be possible and therefore sponsorship will not be possible through a Group of Five or Community Sponsor. However, because sponsorships through SAHs do not require a UNHCR mandate letter or referral, you can sponsor a Rwanda refugee if they meet the eligibility and admissibility requirements of the PSR program.

11. Are de-facto dependants eligible to come to Canada under the One-Year Window of Opportunity (OYW) program?

No, de facto dependants are not eligible under the OYW program as they do not meet the definition of family member as outlined in the OP 5 manual.

12. We would like to sponsor a refugee family that consists of a woman, her spouse, their two children (4 and 8 years old), one nephew (6 years old) of the woman and the sister of the spouse (27).

Please note that, in the context of private refugee sponsorship, a ‘family’ includes only the principal applicant, the applicant’s spouse (or common law partner), and their dependent children. Dependent children generally refers to biological or adopted children under the age of 19. A child age 19 or older is considered ‘dependent’ if he or she is substantially dependent on the financial support of the parent(s) because of full-time enrollment in education or because of a mental or physical condition. Only such family members can be included on the refugee sponsorship undertaking. The nephew and the spouse’s sister may be considered members of the family unit, but they do not meet the definition of ‘family’ as above. Depending on the specific situation, the nephew and the sister-in-law may be considered ‘de facto dependants’. Regardless of age, a de facto dependant is someone who is emotional and/or financially dependent on the family and usually lives with them. Separate undertakings and IMM6000 application packages are required for each de facto dependant. In order to be sponsored at the same time as the principal refugee applicant, their applications must be ‘linked’ – to do so, complete section G on each undertaking.

13. My refugee case was denied in Sweden – can I be privately sponsored to Canada?

Sweden, like most EU countries, is signatory to the UN Refugee Convention and its Protocols. While there is no basis for automatically refusing a PSR application because the refugee applicant‘s claim was denied in a signatory country, the chances for acceptance to be resettled to Canada are slim. If the applicant had applied for protection in the signatory country (Sweden) and the application was refused, and all other meaningful avenues of appeal have been exhausted, then the Canadian visa officer must assess the merits of the application for resettlement to Canada. The officer will consider whether the refugee’s protection needs have been denied, and whether the refugee was accorded a status falling short of the Convention. For more information, refer Section 7.2 of OP 5.

14. Can we sponsor a refugee who is in Italy and does not have permanent status there?

When assessing sponsorship applications for asylum seekers who are residing in countries that are signatories to the UN Refugee Convention and Protocols, such as Italy, the Canadian visa officer is required to determine whether the applicant would be able to find a durable solution in that country. The visa officer will consider whether that country has a free and effective refugee protection regime and whether the applicant has applied for protection under that regime. If the refugee has applied for status in Italy but the application is still in process or the refugee has withdrawn his/her application, he/she is likely to be rejected by the Canadian visa officer on the basis of having the possibility of local integration.

15. Are there any other reasons why someone might not be eligible for resettlement?

In addition to being inside Canada, the following people do not qualify for private sponsorship:

  • People who were the subject of a previous sponsorship application and were refused, unless
    • their circumstances have changed;
    • new information, which was not presented in the previous application has come to light; or
    • Canadian laws affecting the case have changed.
  • Persons who have other durable solution, such as voluntary repatriation or local integration in the current country of residence
  • Persons who have not been recognized as refugees by either the UNHCR or state authorities in the country of asylum (if sponsors are a Group of Five or a Community Sponsor).

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