Sponsorship Agreement Holders (SAHs)

What is a Sponsorship Agreement Holder?

A Sponsorship Agreement Holder (SAH) is an organization that has signed a Sponsorship Agreement with the Government of Canada, as represented by the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and  Citizenship Canada (IRCC). This agreement allows the SAH to resettle refugees through the Private Sponsorship of Refugees (PSR) program.

The Private Sponsorship of Refugees Program

This is a partnership program administered by IRCC and the people of Canada to increase Canada’s capacity to resettle refugees from abroad. SAHs and their Constituent Groups, Community Sponsors and Groups of Five can all sponsor refugees.

How Does a Group Qualify?

To become a SAH, an organization MUST:

  1. Be incorporated / registered
  2. Have the necessary financial capacity
  3. Understand and uphold the objectives of the PSR program
  4. Have a good volunteer base
  5. Pass a security review
  6. Complete training with RSTP

How to Apply

In order to become a SAH, a corporation must:

  • submit an application with supporting documents to IRCC
  • give a detailed explanation about why they want to become a SAH
  • outline why they would qualify as a SAH

IRCC assesses the application and makes the final decision.

What is a Constituent Group?

A Constituent Group (CG) is a group authorized in writing by a SAH to act on its behalf in sponsoring refugees. Under its agreement, a SAH can authorize any number of CGs to sponsor  and support the sponsored refugees. Each SAH sets its own criteria for recognizing CGs. They have the following characteristics:

  • CGs are in the community where the refugee(s) will reside
  • they are authorized, in writing, by the SAH to act on its behalf as sponsors of refugees
  • they are managed under the SAH

The SAH bears the legal responsibility for all sponsorships submitted under their agreement. CGs carry out the duties of the sponsorships. Some SAHs have CGs and some don’t.

What are the responsibilities of a SAH?

When an organization signs a sponsorship agreement, it undertakes the legal responsibilities outlined in that agreement. These include to:

  • provide basic financial support (such as housing and food) and care for the sponsored refugee. This is expected for the entire sponsorship period or until the sponsored refugee no longer requires assistance, whichever comes first
  • pre-screen to determine whether a sponsorship application meets sponsorship eligibility and admissibility criteria
  • be responsible for choosing and authorizing CGs
  • ensure the SAH has sufficient resources and expertise to carry out its responsibilities
  • be jointly or solely liable when the SAH and CG have signed a Sponsorship Undertaking
  • provide organizational assistance, advice, information and support to its CGs
  • be responsible for monitoring its CGs
  • advise IRCC of any changes in its signing authority
  • submit an annual report to IRCC

Who Can Be Sponsored Under the PSR Program?

Refugees who would qualify under the Convention Refugees Abroad or Country of Asylum Class may be sponsored. Refugees already in Canada are not eligible to be sponsored.

How Do I Find a Refugee to Sponsor?

A group may submit an undertaking to sponsor a particular refugee(s) from abroad (sponsor-referred refugee).

A SAH may also sponsor a refugee that has been identified abroad through the Blended Visa Office-Referred (BVOR), Visa Office-Referred (VOR) or the Joint Assistance Sponsorship (JAS) programs. The BVOR and JAS programs provide profiles of refugees, available on the RSTP website. Contact RSTP for more information. Once a Sponsorship Undertaking has been submitted to the BVOR, JAS or VOR program, the refugee(s) will probably arrive quickly in Canada. This is because they have already been determined eligible and in most cases admissible to Canada.

More Information…

The RSTP website has ample information on becoming a SAH and sponsoring as a SAH. The Sponsoring Group Handbook has further information and is available online at www.rstp.ca.

All refugee sponsorship application forms can be found on the IRCC website at: www.cic.gc.ca.