Refugee Sponsorship Training Program

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4. Who can be sponsored?

PLEASE NOTE: Groups of Five can only sponsor persons who have already been formally/officially recognized as a refugee in the country of asylum (i.e.: where they reside now), and be able to provide documentary proof of this status such as a document issued by the state of that country or a refugee status recognition or ‘mandate letter’ by the UNHCR. If you are unsure whether the document issued to the Principal Applicant would be acceptable, please contact the RSTP.

The person you want to sponsor must meet the eligibility criteria of the Canadian resettlement program and also be admissible to Canada in addition to having a group of people who are willing to sponsor him or her.

First and foremost, has the refugee whom you (your Group of Five) want to sponsor already been recognized as a refugee by either the UNHCR or state (country of asylum)? If the answer is ‘no’, then this person cannot be sponsored by a Group of Five or Community Sponsor group. Please consult the pages on sponsorship through a Sponsorship Agreement Holder for details on how they can sponsor refugees who have not been recognized as refugees.

Sponsorship of refugees is a solution of last resort. The refugee applicant has to show that he/she tried every other possible venue to get protection; first, from the authorities in his/her country of origin, or, failing that, in the country of refuge.

Generally speaking, individuals sponsored under the Private Sponsorship of Refugees program are persons who have left their country of origin, whose lives would be at risk if they were to return to their country of origin and who have no other options.

For sponsorships under a Group of Five, the refugee applicant must also be recognized as a refugee by either the state or the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugee (UNHCR). A photocopied document showing valid proof of recognition as a refugee by the UNHCR or a foreign state will need to be included in the application.

It is important to keep in mind that individuals are only eligible to be sponsored if they meet all the conditions previously mentioned.

Specifically, the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (IRPR) describe two classes of persons who may qualify for Canada’s refugee and humanitarian resettlement program. These classes are:

  1. Convention Refugee Abroad
  2. Country of Asylum Class

When considering an individual for refugee sponsorship, ask yourself:

  • Do they meet the definition of the Convention Refugee Abroad Class or the Country of Asylum Class?
  • Have they undergone a refugee determination status proceeding or have they been accepted as a refugee on a prima facie basis?
  • Have they received refugee status recognition by the UNHCR or the state?
  • Can they return to their own country in safety and dignity?
  • What is their situation in the current country of asylum? Why can they not live where they currently are?
  • Is resettlement to Canada their only possible durable solution?

If the answer to the questions above is ‘yes’, then the refugee applicant may be eligible for refugee sponsorship to Canada. Please note that even when all the eligibility criteria have been met, the refugee applicant may or may not be found admissible to Canada. Admissibility is granted when the refugee applicant successfully passes all medical, security and criminality screenings.

Quick fact:
Refugees who are already in Canada are not eligible to be sponsored through the Private Sponsorship of Refugees Program

Eligibility is only the first step in determining whether someone qualifies for resettlement to Canada as a refugee. After a positive decision on eligibility, visa officers must determine whether the person is admissible (has passed medical, criminality and security checks).