Groups of Five

A ‘Group of Five’ is a type of refugee sponsoring group. Like Sponsorship Agreement Holders (SAHs) and Community Sponsors, Groups of Five can engage in refugee resettlement to Canada – however, the criteria for group eligibility and refugee applicant eligibility differ.

As a Group of Five, five Canadian citizens or permanent residents get together to sponsor a refugee and his/her dependents to Canada. More people can join the group to provide settlement support, however, supporting only five group members sign the required application forms. By engaging in refugee sponsorship and signing the forms, the group commits to supporting the sponsored refugee(s):

  • Financially
  • Emotionally
  • And with settlement support for the duration of the sponsorship period, which is usually 12 months from the date of arrival or until the sponsored refugees have become self-sufficient (whatever ever comes first).

Members of the group must be:

  • 18 years of age or older
  • And reside in the community where the refugee is expected to settle.

They must also prove that they have the necessary financial and human resources, expertise and commitment required to fulfill the terms of the sponsorship.

Refugee applicants must meet the eligibility and admissibility criteria for private refugee sponsorship to Canada. To be sponsored by a Group of Five, the Principal Applicant must be:

  • Recognized formally as a refugee in the country of asylum (where they currently reside)
  • And be able to provide documentary proof of this status (such as a document issued by the state of that country or a document such as a refugee status recognition or ‘mandate letter’ by the UNHCR). For further information regarding refugee status determination in different countries, visit the Summary of refugee registration and refugee status determination by Country of Asylum.

If you require clarification about group membership, eligibility or any aspect of the application forms, contact us at the RSTP.


Below are the steps necessary for a successful application, please click on the downward arrows to expand each section:

1. Group Eligibility

Find out if you can be a member of a Group of Five and/or whether your group can sponsor refugees…

To be eligible to sponsor as a Group of Five, you need five or more people. Each member of the group must:

  • Be 18 years of age or older,
  • Be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident,
  • Reside in the community where the refugee will live, and
  • Commit to supporting the refugee financially and with settlement support for the duration of the sponsorship period (usually 12 months from the time of their arrival in Canada).

Formed a group but unsure about financial eligibility, residency or other criteria?
Contact us!

Some people cannot participate in a Group of Five sponsorship. Persons are ineligible to sponsor refugees as a Group of Five if they:

  • Have been convicted inside or outside Canada of a serious criminal offence as set out in Schedule I or II of the Corrections and Conditional Release Act, if a period of five years has not elapsed since completion of the sentence; or
  • Are in default of any court-ordered support payments (i.e. child support or a previous sponsorship); or
  • Are subject to a removal order; or
  • Are subject to a revocation proceeding under the Citizenship Act; or
  • Are detained in any penitentiary, jail, reformatory or prison.

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2. Forming a Group

There is no prescribed method for forming a Group of Five.

Most of the time, Groups of Five consist of individuals who are friends, family members and/or individuals with a common interest. They come together on a one-time basis to sponsor a refugee or refugee family.

It is up to you to find individuals within your community, family, friends and colleagues that would be willing to assist you and the refugee applicant throughout the sponsorship. IRCC and the RSTP do not assist in this process.

If you cannot find the necessary number of people who are willing to commit time, energy and financial resources, you may need to consider other ways of sponsoring the refugee (e.g. Community Sponsor or Sponsorship Agreement Holder) or assisting the refugee abroad.

What if I can only find three other people? Is it possible to submit a sponsorship with fewer than five people?

A Group of Five sponsorship must include at least five individuals. That means that you can include more members in your group if possible, however, five must sign the application forms including the Undertaking. A Group of Five sponsorship applications with fewer sponsors than five individuals will be rejected.

Remember that it is only necessary for three people (out of the five) to contribute financial resources as income support during the sponsorship. Therefore, the two other individuals would be involved in the provision of moral and logistical support with settlement tasks.

3. Financial Requirements

How much money will I need for the sponsorship? How will my finances be assessed?

Each group member who makes a financial contribution, as well as the group as a whole, must show that they have sufficient financial resources available to support the sponsored refugee(s) for the duration of the sponsorship period (usually 12 months from time of arrival in Canada). Provincial social welfare rates and the Sponsorship Cost Table (see Appendix A of the Instructions Guide) are used by the Resettlement Operations Centre in Ottawa (ROC-O) to determine whether a group member is financially eligible to participate in the sponsorship and whether the total funds pledged by group members are sufficient for a particular sponsorship undertaking.

Use the Sponsorship Cost Table as a guide to determine your required individual and group level of financial support.

Please note that the actual cost of the sponsorship may be higher than the amount listed in the Sponsorship Cost Table. When calculating the overall budget, the Group of Five can deduct the value of any in-kind donations they receive, such as furniture or housing. Please see the in-kind deductions table in Appendix A of the Instructions Guide for the dollar amounts that can be deducted.

During the sponsorship period, the group is responsible for the basic needs of the sponsored refugee(s), including monthly income support. Given this, the sponsored persons will not require income support from the government through social assistance or welfare.

The Settlement Plan and Financial Assessment forms are used by the Resettlement Operations Centre in Ottawa (ROC-O) to assess whether your group is able to provide the necessary settlement assistance and financial support to help the sponsored person(s) establish successfully in Canada during the sponsorship term. Group members contributing financially to the sponsorship should provide the amount of money they are committing towards the sponsorship, and if applicable, all other sources of funds. Please refer to the Instructions Guide or contact us for further information on the documents you will need to submit for the financial assessment, and for guidance in calculating your individual financial eligibility

4. Who can be sponsored

The refugees you want to sponsor must meet the eligibility criteria of the PSR program and must also be admissible to Canada, in addition to having a Group of Five who is willing to sponsor them.

As noted above, the refugee whom your Group of Five would like to sponsor must have already been recognized or accepted as a refugee by either the government of a foreign country or UNHCR and they must include a copy of their refugee status document with the application package. If the refugees you would like to sponsor have not been recognized or accepted as refugees by the government of a country or UNHCR, they cannot be sponsored by a Group of Five or a Community Sponsor. However, they can be sponsored by a Sponsorship Agreement Holder (SAH).

Please click here for information on how to sponsor refugees that have not been recognized or accepted as refugees with the assistance of a SAH.

Generally speaking, refugees sponsored under the PSR program are persons who have left their country of nationality or country of habitual residence (if they are stateless); who would be at risk of persecution or suffering human rights violations if they were to return to their country of nationality or country of habitual residence; who are not able to live safely in the country they are currently in; and, who have no other options available to them.

For detailed information on the eligibility and admissibility requirements that refugees sponsored under the PSR program have to meet, please click here.

When considering to sponsor a refugee under the PSR program as a Group of Five, it may be helpful to ask the following questions to better understand whether they are eligible for sponsorship:

Are the refugees outside their country of nationality or their country of habitual residence (if there are stateless)?
Do the refugees meet the definition of the Convention Refugee Abroad Class or the Country of Asylum Class?
Have the refugees been recognized or accepted as refugees by the government of a country or UNHCR?
Can the refugees safely return to their country of nationality or their country of habitual residence and live their in safety in with dignity?
Can the refugees stay in the country they are currently in (the country of asylum) and what rights do they have in the country they are currently in?
Do the refugees have an offer of resettlement to a country already available to them?
Is resettlement to Canada the only possible durable solution that is available to them in a reasonable period of time?

If you have any questions on whether the refugees you would like to sponsor under the PSR program as a Group of Five are eligible to be sponsored, please contact your nearest RSTP Trainer.

5. Your Responsibilities

As a member of a refugee sponsor group, what am I responsible for?

The sponsoring group is responsible to support the sponsored refugees financially and with settlement assistance, counselling and support for the duration of the sponsorship period, usually for one year from the date of the arrival of the refugee, but can be up to three years in exceptional circumstances.

Specifically, members of the sponsoring group must provide:

Receive the refugees at the airport, provide an orientation to life in Canada

Provide suitable accommodation, basic furniture, and other household essentials

Provide food, clothing, local transportation costs and other basic necessities of life.

Sponsors provide ongoing friendship and emotional support.

Settlement Assistance and Support, including:

  • Providing orientation to the new community of residence
  • Completing forms for IFH, provincial health insurance, social insurance number, child tax benefits, driver’s license, etc.
  • Finding an ESL/FSL language class, tutoring, etc.
  • Understanding the rights and responsibilities of permanent residents
  • Learning about the Canadian job market, preparing a Canadian resume, employment search, job interviews, job search programs, etc.
  • Making friends
  • Learning about and accessing various types of services available in the community
  • Assisting with the registration of children in schools
  • Orienting to the Canadian school system
  • Locating a family physician, dentist, other health services
  • Becoming self-sufficient

Your ability to support the sponsored refugee(s) will be assessed based on the settlement plan. The Settlement Plan is a planning tool for sponsoring groups to formulate how they intend to deliver the various aspects of settlement assistance needed to help the refugee applicant(s) establish successfully in Canada. Where practicable, the planned arrangements should be in place before the refugee arrives. All members must agree to this plan.

6. Application Forms

The application forms for both the Group of Five and the refugee(s) being sponsored can be found here.

You must follow the detailed instructions in the Guide for Groups of Five (IMM 2200).

As of January 01, 2024, all applications from Sponsorship Agreement Holders (SAHs), Groups of Five and Community Sponsors for the Private Sponsorship of Refugees (PSR) program must be submitted to IRCC via the Permanent Residence Portal.

The Generic Application Form for Canada [IMM 0008] and Schedule A – Background/Declaration must be completed directly in the Permanent Residence Portal.

PDF versions of all other forms for both the sponsors and the refugees must be uploaded to the Permanent Residence Portal. Required supporting documents must also be uploaded to the Permanent Residence Portal.

7. The Application Process

What happens once the application package has been submitted?

When your application is received at theResettlement Operations Centre in Ottawa (ROC-O) the office will review the application package to verify that all the required forms and supporting documents have been included.

If everything is in order, a file number (beginning with the letter G) will be issued and an Acknowledgement of Receipt notification will be issued to the sponsoring group. This is an email and does not require any action on your part. You will require the G number to check on the status of the application and to communicate with IRCC regarding this case.

If your application requires more information or correction, you will receive a letter from the ROC-O advising you of the action required and a time frame within which you must provide the required information and/or make the corrections and return the application to the ROC-O. If major documents are missing, ROC-O may return the entire application to the sponsoring group, without issuing a G number. Any corrected versions of the file will have to be mailed back and will be treated as a new application (receive a new date stamp).

Once the sponsorship application has been approved by an Officer at the ROC-O, you will receive an approval letter from the ROC-O. After the sponsorship application has been assessed and approved at the ROC-O, the file will be transferred to the visa office overseas for further processing. A decision about the refugee’s application for permanent residence is made at this stage. The refugee applicant(s) will be invited for an eligibility interview and, if everything goes well, be provided with information about completing medical exams and other travel arrangements, including travel loans, exit visas and other preparations as needed.

In the meantime, youwill receive a letter and/or email notification that the principal refugee applicants application has either been approved or refused by the visa office. Once approved, you can expect a Notice of Arrival Transmission (NAT) advising of the arrival date of the refugee(s) after the medical exam and security and criminality checks have been completed.

Click here for information on average processing times for overseas visa offices.