Private Sponsorship of Refugees

The Private Sponsorship of Refugees Program (PSR) is a partnership program administered by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) and the people of Canada to extend Canada’s capacity to resettle refugees from abroad.

A refugee is someone who has a well founded fear of persecution based on their race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion, is outside the country of his/her nationality and due to that fear is unable or unwilling to return.

Canada’s Response to Refugees

Canada is one of the few countries in the world that annually offers resettlement places to thousands of refugees. It is the only country that enables the resettlement of refugees through civic engagement. In private refugee sponsorship, Canadian citizens and permanent residents, organizations and associations can sponsor refugees through Groups of Five, Community Sponsors 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. Private sponsors offer personalized local support that the government is not able to provide.

History of the PSR Program

The 1976 Immigration Act established refugees as a class separate from immigrants. Soon after, Canadians responded to the ‘Boat People’ crisis of the late 70s and early 80s which allowed ordinary people from across the country to assist these refugees through private sponsorship.

Who Can Sponsor a Refugee?

There are three ways through which refugees can be privately sponsored:

  1. Sponsorship Agreement Holders (SAHs) and their Constituent Groups (CGs)
  2. Groups of Five
  3. Community Sponsor