1. Who can be a member of a Group of Five?
A Canadian Citizen or Permanent Resident who is 18 years of age or older and resides in the community where the sponsored refugee is expected to live for the duration of the sponsorship period is eligible to join a Group of Five. This person must also make a commitment to support the sponsored refugee financially and socially, providing settlement support during the sponsorship period (usually 12 months). Persons who have been convicted inside or outside Canada of a serious criminal offence as set out in Schedule I or II of the Corrections and Conditional Release Act (if a period of five years has not elapsed since completion of the sentence), are in default of any court-ordered support payments (i.e. child support or a previous sponsorship), are subject to a removal order, are subject to a revocation proceeding under the Citizenship Act, and/or are detained in any penitentiary, jail, reformatory or prison are not able to join or form a Group of Five to sponsor a refugee to Canada. For more information about financial eligibility, please consult the Group of Five Tutorial or contact the RSTP.
2. Do Group of Five members have to provide any money upfront to the Government of Canada?
No. Each group members must indicate on the application form, whether and how much money they are willing to contribute towards the financial support that the group must provide to the sponsored refugee(s) during the sponsorship period. The Government of Canada will assess your financial capacity based on the financial documents you submit (e.g. recent T4 or income tax statement; trust account information; etc.).
3. Can I participate in more than 1 sponsorship?
Yes, eligible refugee sponsors can participate in more than one sponsorship. Your ability to participate in multiple refugee sponsorships depends on your financial capacity and settlement capacity. You will be assessed on your annual income, the size of your family (i.e.: number of depends for whom you are financially responsible for including yourself) and the amount of your financial commitment for each sponsorship – these will be compared against the Sponsorship Cost Table and the low-income cut-off measurement.
4. I have heard that there were recently changes to Group of Five refugee sponsorships and that refugee applicants need to submit proof of refugee status. Can you tell me what documents are needed?
The person(s) you intend to sponsor must have refugee status as recognized by either the state or the UNHCR, and proof of this status. That is, if they have refugee status through the UNHCR, then they are required to submit a copy of their refugee status recognition certificate which is also called the ‘mandate letter’ from the UNHCR. If they have undergone a refugee status determination process with the result that they have refugee status, then they should have these documents. Please note that this is not the same as the UNHCR registration card or Asylum Seeker Certificate. In some countries, the state conducts their own refugee status determination processes. If an applicant has refugee status from the government of the country of asylum, then documentary proof of this status recognition must be submitted with the refugee sponsorship application.
Please note that as of September 19, 2015, the Canadian Government has temporarily exempt Syrians and Iraqis from the requirement to provide proof of refugee status in order to be sponsored by a Group of Five. Therefore, if you want to sponsor a Syrian or Iraqi refugee, you can submit these applications, even if these refugee applicants do not have a refugee status recognition document.
5. The refugee applicant has a card from the UN that says the words ‘refugee’ and ‘registration’ on it. Is this what the Canadian government means with ‘refugees status documentation’?
No, this is a ‘refugee registration’ document – it does not prove that the person has undergone a refugee status determination process and has received status as a refugee as a result of this process. What is required for sponsorship through a Group of Five or Community Sponsor is a document that is often referred to as ‘the mandate letter’ or ‘refugee certificate’ from the UNHCR.
6. Do all group members contribute financial support? How much should we each contribute?
At a minimum, three of the Group of Five members should be committing to contribute towards the financial support of the sponsored refugee(s). That is, more than three members can but do not have to contribute financially. How much each of you contributes is up to you. However, you do have to make sure that the overall group total equals to the figures provided in the sponsorship cost table. The amounts that each group member pledges to contribute need to be reasonable, taking into account the number of dependants the group member has, any previous sponsorships the group member has committed to, and the group member’s annual income after tax deductions. Use the sponsorship cost table and the LICO to guide you in your calculations.
7. What is the financial support for?
The financial support is money that you provide to the sponsored person or family once they have arrived in Canada for the duration of the sponsorship (usually 12 month). This money is not provided to the government, but is intended to provide income support to the sponsored refugee as part of the basic necessities you have agreed to provide as per your refugee sponsorship application.
8. How do I know how much money we must have altogether?
Please refer to the instructions guide and review the information carefully. The Sponsorship Cost Table and In-Kind Deduction Table (Appendix A in the guide) provide you with information about how much money is required according to the size of the refugee family that you wish to sponsor. For example, if you plan to sponsor someone who has a spouse and two children, your group will need to have a combined pledge of a minimum of $26,000. If the refugee family is going to live in your second floor apartment and therefore is not required to pay rent, you may deduct $7,800 as an in-kind donation for shelter from the overall sponsorship cost. If the apartment is fully furnished, you may deduct another $3,000. The remaining sponsorship cost that your group must be able to pay in the form of actual monetary income support to the family once they arrive in Canada will be $ 15,200. Discuss with your group what in-kind donations you have, to determine the final cost of the sponsorship. Consider also that the local cost for rent, public transportation and other basic necessities may differ in other cities, towns or provinces.
9. How are we supposed to get current T4s or Notice of Assessments?
If you are using your personal income, you need to submit a copy of the most recent T4 or NOA – if you do not have these, you can request it from Canada Revenue Agency. For employment periods not covered by T4 or Notice of Assessment, consult page 35 (10.9) of the IP3 (http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/resources/manuals/ip/ip03-part3-eng.pdf) for alternative documents that are acceptable.
10. Can a G5 include members of the same family or household?
Yes. As long as they meet all of the other group eligibility criteria.
11.Some of our group members don’t live in the same city. Is that ok?
Group of Five members should reside in the community in which the sponsored refugee(s) are expected to live, for the reason that group members are responsible for supporting them during the sponsorship period with settlement needs. If group members live too far apart, the refugee application package will be returned to the group for not meeting the residency requirement. Generally speaking, living in cities or towns that are covered by different local CIC offices and/or would require a long commute would be considered too far.
12. The Undertaking asks about previous sponsorships. What if I had been involved a long time ago and no longer have detailed information about the sponsored persons on file? Will I be disqualified from sponsoring refugees?
The response from the CPO-W has been that it is the sponsors’ responsibility to keep track and records of all sponsorships in which you have been involved. Having said that, the CPO-W has also confirmed that in cases where the previous involvement was some time ago, and the sponsor does not recall all of the details about the case, the sponsor should include as much information as they do have on a separate sheet of paper. The most important part is to indicate ‘yes’ to the question and to explain on that sheet that he/she was involved previously but does not recall all of the details – however, do include as much information as you can recall even if it is vague, such as“ I sponsored a family of 5 between 1999 and 2000 etc…”. Giving this information to the best of your knowledge/recollection will not result in a return of the application for incompleteness.