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9. FAQs

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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.

What is a contingency plan?
A contingency plan is an important element to include in your settlement plan. It is a back-up plan to show what the sponsoring group will do if the original settlement plan does not work out, i.e. if the refugee(s) are not able to live with the person who had provided the housing in-kind. How would the sponsoring group raise additional funds?

My sponsorship undertaking was refused by the CPO-W office. What can I do now?
The CPO-W will refuse a sponsorship undertaking if the sponsoring group or its members do not meet the criteria to sponsor as a Group of Five or if CPO-W finds that they do not have sufficient capacity to provide settlement assistance or financial support. CPO-W will also refuse a sponsorship undertaking if the forms have not been filled out correctly or supporting documents are missing. Applications may be returned if they are found to be incomplete. An undertaking/application will not be refused by CPO-W because the refugee is ineligible to be sponsored. This assessment will be done by the visa officer abroad. The CPO-W will indicate the reasons for refusal in a letter to the Group of Five representative. The Group of Five can resubmit a sponsorship undertaking anytime after addressing these concerns.

Are there any application fees?
There are no application fees for Group of Five undertakings, or any other refugee sponsorship through other groups.

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.

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How do I know how much money we must have altogether?
Read the instructions guide carefully. The Sponsorship Cost Table and In-Kind Deduction Table provide you with a guide of how much money is required according to family size. 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 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 sponsorship. Consider also local costs, as rent, public transportation and the cost of other basic necessities may differ.

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 to guide you in your calculations. Contact us if you have any questions or require assistance with the calculations.

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  for alternative documents that are acceptable.

The refugees overseas said they can contribute some money if we can sponsor them. Can I accept this?
No. In private sponsorship of refugees, the refugee(s) cannot contribute towards their own sponsorship. It is illegal to take any money from the refugees.

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What do I need to keep in mind when completing the sponsorship undertaking forms?
Before starting to fill the forms, carefully read the guide to completing the application forms.

  1. Identify one representative of your group and make sure to include correct contact information.
  2. Provide as much detail as possible in the settlement plan forms.
  3. Make sure that each member who contributes financially has completed and signed his/her own Financial Profile form and Sponsor Assessment form.
  4. Make sure to attach all required documents, including a copy of the document that proves that the refugee applicant has a refugee status that is officially recognized by the government (country of asylum) or the UNHCR (e.g. Refugee Status Certificate also called ‘mandate letter’).
  5. Be sure to explain the in-kind donations, especially an offer of free accommodation.
  6. Be careful to list the name and date of birth of the principal applicant on each form or document. Make sure that they are consistent across all forms.

I would like to sponsor my aunt, but she is very ill. Will she be refused at the medical screening?
A refugee can be refused on medical grounds only if the person has a condition that would present a danger to the Canadian public health or safety. Refugees cannot be refused on the basis that they would be a burden on the Canadian health system.

My application was approved at the CPO-W. What will happen now?
Your application will be forwarded to the appropriate Canadian visa office. A file will be opened at the visa office and the refugee will be called for an interview. If the interview is positive, criminality and security screenings will be conducted and the refugee will be sent to do medical exams. If cleared, the refugee will be issued visas and travel to Canada.

I have submitted my sponsorship undertaking. How long will it take until the refugees arrive?
It can take anywhere from a few months to several years from the time the application is received at the visa office until the refugees arrive, depending on the visa office and the complexity of the case. Current processing times for privately sponsored refugees are posted on the CIC website.

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Can I be a member of more than one Group of Five?
This depends on your financial capacity and your time. CIC will deduct any prior commitments from the sponsorship undertaking and assess whether you have the necessary funds and time to support the additional undertaking, based on your previous and present commitments.

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.

Can a G5 include members of the same family or household?
Yes. As long as they meet all of the other group eligibility criteria.

How do I inform the visa office of the change in contact information or family composition of the refugee?
To avoid problems it is very important to make sure the visa office always has the most up-to-date and correct information for the refugee(s). To inform the visa office of a change in contact information, family composition or any other changes, submit the information to the CPO-W who will forward it to the visa office.

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