There are situations where a sponsor may request to change the intended final destination to Canada for their sponsored refugees. In most cases, this occurs because of long wait times in some missions and the sponsor or co-sponsor is no longer residing in the community where the original Sponsorship Undertaking was approved. These change requests typically occur after the Notification of Arrival Transmission (NAT) has been sent.
If a sponsor requests a change in the refugee’s destination based solely on the relocation of a co-sponsor and the SAH and/or CG are no longer based in the community of settlement, then this sponsorship scenario would no longer meet the regulatory requirements of R153 (1) (a) that a sponsor must reside or have representatives in the expected community of settlement. Furthermore, the definition of “sponsor” as per R138(a): “sponsor” means (a) a group, a corporation or an unincorporated organization or association referred to in subsection 13(2) of the Act, or any combination of them, that is acting for the purpose of sponsoring a Convention refugee or a person in similar circumstances. As you know, clarification on this requirement will be included in the revised SAH Agreement.
The legislative requirements are a very critical piece in this but also important is the logistical and resource challenges that occur when change of destination requests are submitted so late in the game when the refugee’s travel has already been booked. This creates a great deal of duplication of work for IOM, for Matching Centre, and for the Visa Offices. It also adds to the burden of the loan costs carried by the refugees themselves as there are additional fees incurred with flight cancellations and re-bookings.
Therefore, procedures for change of destination requests will be changing effective April 1st, 2017. Sponsors will be expected to be proactive and review their caseload to confirm final destinations for the sponsored refugees. If a change of destination is required along with alternate sponsorship arrangements including option to appoint representatives this must be communicated to the newly created Resettlement Operations Center in Ottawa (ROC-O) (new contact info for ROC-O to be provided soon) prior to the Notification of Arrival Transmission (NAT). Should a change in destination be requested after the NAT has been issued, these requests will not be granted. The refugee will be destined to the community on record with IRCC. If the sponsor needs to make alternate sponsorship arrangements post-arrival, any travel expenses for the refugee will be incurred by the sponsoring group. The sponsor will still need to ensure that the residency requirements are being met with the new arrangement and if post-arrival monitoring by IRCC demonstrate that these requirements are not met, then sponsorship default could be a potential consequence.
IRCC is planning to add reminder notifications to confirm final destination in future communications to sponsoring groups. Further details on this to be shared in due course. At this time, we will ask all sponsors to please review their overseas caseload and confirm that the final destination continues to be the one on file with IRCC as per the Sponsorship Application submitted. Should a destination need to be changed, they must ensure that alternate sponsorship arrangements are in place in the new community of settlement. If this will involve the appointment of at least 2 representatives in the community of settlement, then they will need to email ROC-O to inform them of the representatives and their names (it will be important to reference that this is regarding an existing sponsorship that has been submitted) along with an updated Settlement Plan. If a new SAH or CG will be involved, then a new Sponsorship Undertaking form (and Settlement Plan, if applicable) must be submitted to ROC-O for assessment to formalize the new arrangement.