1. How long will it take to process the application?
The overseas-processing time of a refugee sponsorship application varies in different Canadian visa offices abroad. To find out about the average processing time at a specific visa office, visit the CIC website here.
2. If the refugees are recognized by the UNHCR, do they still need to have an interview with a Canadian visa officer?
The Canadian government, similar to other states, conducts its own selection assessments. This means that, even if an individual is accepted as a refugee in need of resettlement by the UNCHR, they will still have to go through the same process with a visa officer overseas and could even be rejected.
3. The refugee applicant does not speak English or French – will there be interpreters at the interview with the Canadian visa officer?
This may differ based on circumstances at a visa office. The visa office will need to be informed of the need for an interpreter and the language (and dialect) before the interview. If no visa office employee can interpret, the visa office may receive the assistance of UNHCR or IOM employees (on occasion), and when this is also not possible may have to rely on relatives or friends of the refugee applicant, other refugees or a hired interpreter.
4. How do we know if the refugee applicant has been accepted or not after the interview?
If a refugee applicant is informed and/or given information by the Canadian visa officer on how to obtain a medical exam, it means that the interview was successful. The acceptance of their case now depends on successfully passing the medical, criminality and security checks (i.e.: admissibility criteria). The interviewing Canadian visa officer will inform the refugee applicant if the interview was not successful after the interview. The decision will be confirmed in a letter from the visa office.
5. Would moving from Syria to Lebanon or Jordan speed up the refugee sponsorship processing for Iraqi refugees?
It is up to the refugee applicant to move whenever they feel appropriate in terms of their safety and well-being. We cannot advise applicants to move for the purposes of a refugee sponsorship. If they move to Lebanon or Jordan, they will have to let visa office know that they have changed their address by writing email or letter. The sponsor is expected to complete Status Update Request Form and let the CPO-W office know that the applicants have moved to Lebanon or Jordan. It is not guaranteed that their cases will be expedited because of the move.
6. Are Canadian visa officers interviewing refugee applicants in Yemen?
According to CIC (2012) “the security situation in Yemen has not improved to the point where our officers are able to enter the country. We still cannot interview in Yemen and cases awaiting interview remain in the queue.”
7. Could you update us about the situation on the ground in Nairobi and Kenya?
We are hearing that Kenya authorities are rounding up refugees and forcing them into camps or to leave the country. While we have no official confirmation about raids or round ups of refugees conducted by the Kenyan authorities, the Kenya’s Department of Refugee Affairs (DRA) has announced that Kenya’s government policy on encampment is being re-enforced. An official statement released on December 13th, 2012 stated that the DRA will no longer be providing services such as asylum seeker registrations, issuing refugee ID cards, issuing movement passes, and processing exit permits for refugees and asylum seekers who are outside of refugee camps. According to this policy, all Somali refugees are to report to the Dadaab refugee camp (incl. Ifo refugee camp) and all other refugees (e.g. Rwandans, Congolese, Burundi, South-Sudanese, Ethiopian, Eritrean) are to report to the Kakuma refugee camp.
8. Who arranges the flights details and handles the exit permits?
Generally, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) handles all travel-related matters for sponsored refugees. IOM staff will book the flight and arrange for exit permits.
9. What if the refugee applicant does not have enough money for the flight to Canada?
Sponsored refugees who do not have sufficient funds to pay for their own flight may be eligible for a travel loan that is provided by the Canadian Government and issued by the IOM. Sponsored refugees are responsible for paying back this loan once they have settled in Canada.