The Private Sponsorship of Refugees Program

The Private Sponsorship of Refugees Program is a Canadian refugee resettlement program.

Through the Private Sponsorship of Refugees program, Canadian citizens and permanent residents can engage in the resettlement of refugees from abroad. As members of organizations, associations and groups, citizens and residents can sponsor refugees from abroad through Groups of Five, Community Sponsorship and Sponsorship Agreement Holders.

Private refugee sponsorship does not rely on public resources, but rather taps the energy and funds of faith communities, ethnic groups, families and other benevolent associations. These organizations typically fund-raise or use their personal income to provide for and support the sponsored individual or family for 1 year in Canada.

They initiate a refugee resettlement undertaking by submitting a refugee sponsorship application package to the Centralized Processing Office in Winnipeg and honour their commitment through to the end of the sponsorship period which is typically 12 months from the date of the sponsored person’s arrival in Canada.

The arrival of Vietnamese refugees on Canadian shores – often referred to as the “Boat People” – in the mid 1970s mobilized Canadians to respond. In 1979, the Canadian government pledged to sponsor one refugee for each refugee that the Canadian public would financially and otherwise support privately. For the first time, ordinary people across the country became involved in assisting refugees to settle in Canada through private sponsorship, changing forever the way Canadians would view their role in Canada’s resettlement program.

2009 marked the 30th anniversary of the Private Sponsorship of Refugees program.Over 200,000 refugees who would not have otherwise been able to come to Canada were resettled between 1979 and 2009. And the efforts of the Canadian people and civic society continue…

Today, Canada remains the only country across the world that has a private refugee sponsorship program where the community is directly involved in the resettlement of refugees from abroad.