On December 19, 2016, a temporary public policy was put in place to enable Groups of Five and Community Sponsors to submit applications to sponsor up 1,000 Syrian and Iraqi refugees.
We have now reached that limit and the public policy has ended. Applications received after this limit was reached will be returned as incomplete applications if they do not include a Proof of Refugee Status Recognition document issued by the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) or a foreign state.
Over the past year, Canada has been overwhelmed with the generosity of Canadians who want to sponsor Iraqi and Syrian refugees. So much so, that despite record levels of refugee resettlement in 2016, more than 45,000 privately sponsored refugees are waiting to be processed with a large number having waited for more than three years.
We are working hard to bring these refugees to Canada and taking steps to reduce the number of pending applications for private sponsors in order to significantly reduce long wait times. Our objective is that by 2019 average wait times will be about 12 months.
We are continuing to bring many more refugees to Canada than we have in the past. In 2017, Canada will welcome 25,000 refugees from overseas which includes 16,000 privately sponsored refugees. These refugees will need the help and support of Canadians to successfully integrate. Sponsoring a refugee is only one way to help. Canadians can also donate to organizations that are helping refugees or volunteer to help newcomers adjust to life in Canada
Resettling refugees is and will continue to be a proud part of Canada’s humanitarian tradition, and the Government of Canada is grateful for the work and dedication of those who help to welcome and integrate refugees.
Note: RSTP has prepared an information sheet with more details regarding this announcement.