Refugee sponsorship entails a number of moral, financial and legal responsibilities in relation to the refugees sponsored, Immigration Refugee and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) and other parties. Broadly speaking, the responsibilities of a sponsoring group can be categorized into two areas: responsibilities that should be carried our before the arrival of refugees and responsibilities that should be implemented after the arrival of refugees.
Each of these areas requires the sponsoring group to carry out a set of actions or activities that result in positive sponsorship outcomes and experiences. Below are the main duties under these broad categories.
Sponsoring groups are expected to carry out the following duties in relation to refugees they are sponsoring and IRCC:
Pre-screening Refugee Sponsorship Inquiries
To avoid rejection and raising false hopes and to save precious time and resources of IRCC and the group, sponsoring groups have a duty to pre-screen refugee sponsorship inquiries. Sponsors should only submit cases that meet the legal requirements of the Private Sponsorship of Refugee Sponsorship Program.
Submitting Fully And Correctly Completed Refugee Sponsorship Applications
To avoid return of an application and save precious time and resource, sponsors are expected to properly and fully complete all sponsorship applications forms and include all required documents before submitting the application to Resettlement Operations Centre in Ottawa (ROC-O).
Maintaining Contact With Refugee Applicants And Updating Them
Being in contact with the refugee applicant throughout the process allows sponsors to share information and updates with them. It also enables the sponsoring group and refugee applicant to keep the visa office and the ROC-O posted about any important changes.
Updating IRCC About Any Changes In Family Composition
To ensure that the family unit remains intact, sponsors need to update and ensure that refugee applicants inform the visa office and ROC-O about any changes in the family composition of the applicant. Failure to declare changes such as a new baby or spouse on time can result in permanent separation of families.
Ensuring Refugees Are Aware Of Their Interview And Appear For The Interview
If the sponsoring group is aware of the interview date, it should notify the refugee applicant as soon as possible and verify that the applicant is aware of the interview date, place and other details about the interview. The group should not assume that the refugee applicant will be informed of the interview day.
To avoid a “no show“ at the time of the interview, sponsors may need to make phone calls, send emails, letters, fax or other communication through relatives, family, NGOs, UNHCR or other bodies to ensure that the refugee applicants are aware of the interview and come prepared.
Preparing Refugees For An Interview
Assisting the refugee applicant with preparing for the interview is an important task that sponsoring group should try to do. If possible, doing practice interviews through phone or Skype or other means of communication will go a long way to assist the refugees prepare for the interview, especially if there are no language barriers or if interpreters are available to help. If that is not possible, sending an interview instruction guide such as RSTP’s Guide for Preparation to an Interview, which is translated into the most popular refugee languages, will assist refugees to prepare for the interview.
Working Jointly With Refugee Applicants To Avoid Any Delay Or Complication In The Sponsorship Process
The sponsoring group should work with the refugee applicant to ensure that the sponsorship process goes smoothly. This may include attending to email and letters communication that are sent by the visa post or ROC-O such as requests to submit additional document or update the completed forms or re-doing the applications forms.
Updating IRCC with any changes in the financial or other conditions of the sponsoring groups
If there are any changes in the financial, human resources or other aspects of the sponsoring group which will negatively impact the capacity of the groups to carry out its sponsorship responsibilities, the group should let IRCC know. Ideally, the group would recruit new volunteers and reconstitute its resettlement committee or fund-raise to collect the required financial resources that will enable it to continue with the sponsorship process. If this is not possible, the group should let IRCC know and perhaps withdraw the submitted sponsorship application.
Meet the refugee upon arrival at the airport and welcome them in the community; provide orientation to the new neighbourhood and life in Canada.
The sponsoring group has a set of responsibilities related to meeting the basic settlement needs of sponsored refugees upon their arrival in Canada. These duties are:
Provide suitable accommodation, basic furniture, and other household essentials.
Provide food, clothing, local transportation costs and other basic necessities of life.
Settlement Assistance and Support
- Update IRCC’s online “My Application” platform with Canadian address upon arrival to ensure that PR cards are mailed to the correct address (within 180 daysof arrival);
- Assist in the completion of required forms including health insurance, social insurance, child tax benefits registrations, etc.;
- opening a bank account;
- facilitating access to English or French language classes;
- understand the rights and responsibilities of permanent residents;
- facilitating access to employment;
- facilitating access to community support groups, settlement services, and other resources in the community;
- registering children in school and facilitating access with the school system;
- locating and assisting in accessing a family physician and dentist; and supporting empowerment and independence.
For those sponsoring groups that work with co-sponsors and constituent groups or other subsidiary bodies, monitoring and ensuring that settlement needs are met are important responsibilities.
Any sponsoring group should either fully implement the settlement plan itself or ensure that those who are sponsoring under its auspices are properly implementing the settlement plan.