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, only five group members need to sign the required application forms. By engaging in refugee sponsorship and signing the forms, the group commits to supporting the sponsored refugee(s):
- 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).
If you require clarification about group membership, eligibility or any aspect of the application forms, contact us at the RSTP.
Groups of Five Walk-through
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?
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.
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 the 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 can 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 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 sponsoring 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 there 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?
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, and provide an orientation to life in Canada
Provide suitable accommodation, basic furniture, and other household essentials
Provide food, clothing, local transportation costs and other 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.
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, or other health services
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
What forms are needed? How do we complete them?
The refugee applicant must include his or her spouse/common-law partner and their children under the age of 22 on the application forms. Any children 22 and older require their application. Other relatives, such as siblings, parents or in-laws of the refugee applicant cannot be included in the same application package unless they qualify as de facto dependants.
The forms that must be submitted for a refugee sponsorship are contained in the ‘Refugee Sponsorship Application’ package. This application package includes all the forms that the group as well as the refugee applicant have to complete, instructions on how to fill these out and information about the kinds of supporting documents that are expected.
As a Group of Five, you must make sure that you submit a Financial Profile form for each group member who is contributing financially.
You must also submit the Settlement Plan form that has been designed for Groups of Five only. A common weakness of submitted Group of Five application packages is that Settlement Plans do not contain sufficient detailed information about the financial breakdown and the division and planning of the settlement tasks. Make sure that you have a clear understanding of the financial and settlement responsibilities that you have as members of the group. If you require any clarification about the calculation of the financial and in-kind support or other aspects of this form, contact the RSTP.
Other common mistakes and reasons for the return or rejection of applications submitted by Groups of Five include:
• Proof of income that is older than 12 months (from the date of submission)
• Spelling of names of applicants and/or dependants does not match across forms
• Original signatures and/or dated signatures missing
• Vague information provided in the Settlement Plan
• Income support break-down in the Settlement Plan does not match amounts indicated on the individual’s Financial Profiles
• Proof of recognized refugee status by the state or UNHCR missing (needed for all refugee applicants)
The following instructions will help you complete the Undertaking and Settlement Plan – Groups of Five (IMM 5670).
You must follow the detailed instructions in the Guide for Groups of Five to privately sponsor refugees (IMM 2200).
IRCC can return or refuse your application if important details are missing from your Settlement Plan.
A completed Settlement Plan is proof that your group has carefully thought about the support the newcomers will need to settle successfully in their new country.
The Settlement Plan tells IRCC who will do each task to help the sponsored individual(s) settle in Canada. You need to be clear and precise in your answers.
Section A – Sponsor information
In the first section, enter the names and details of each sponsor who will be a signatory to the Group of Five. (A signatory is each person who signs the sponsorship agreement). Be sure that each sponsor has their active email address. IRCC will contact each sponsor in the group through the email address you provide.
Section B – Refugee applicant(s)
In the second section, enter the name and details of the Principal Applicant (the refugee to be sponsored) and their dependent family members (spouse and unmarried, dependent children under 22 years old.)
If you want to add or remove spaces for family members, you can change the number of spaces by first clicking ‘Yes’ under the question: Do you have additional family members to add?
Then you can add spaces for more family members by clicking on ‘Add additional family member’.
Section C – Linked/multiple sponsorship applications
You may be doing a sponsorship application package for other refugees and would like IRCC to review both applications at the same time. If so, you can enter the names of other Principal Applicants in Section C.
For example, you are completing two separate Undertaking and Settlement Plans. One is for Principal Applicant Aylin and the other is for Principal Applicant Berhane. If you would like IRCC to consider Aylin’s and Berhane’s plans at the same time, you would put Aylin’s name in Section C of Berhane’s Settlement Plan. Then you would also put Berhane’s name in Section C of Aylin’s Settlement Plan.
Section D – Settlement Plan details
This section of the form is where you enter all the information related to your Settlement Plan.
There are very specific instructions for this section in the Guide. You must read these instructions carefully. Make sure to answer the questions in a precise way. Include all the details that IRCC asks for in the Guide.
Each Settlement Plan must be UNIQUE. It must address the needs of the specific Principal Applicant and the dependants they have listed.
If you use the same wording from another Settlement Plan, IRCC may refuse your application.
You should include details such as who (name group member) will provide what type of support and when (state availability of person).
Section E – Settlement Checklist
Your group will use the Settlement Checklist to assign specific tasks to specific group members.
Each task must be assigned to at least one sponsor. You must offer this support as long as it is needed by the refugee you sponsor.
Try to have more than one sponsor assigned to each task. This will ensure the task is completed even if your group runs into difficulties.
Section F – Financial Assessment
The Financial Assessment section has six subsections. The Guide has precise instructions on how to complete this section. It also explains which supporting documents you need to submit. These will depend on your group’s financial plan.
For quick reference, look at the Sponsorship Cost Table and In-kind Deduction Table. The In-kind Deduction Table will help you fill in the maximum possible amounts for the Donations section of the Financial Assessment.
When filling in the One-time Start-up Costs section, please consult the Start-up Costs Table for amounts to use.
Section G – Obligations, consents and declarations
Each signing sponsor must read this section carefully and thoroughly. It helps each sponsor understand what their legal obligations will be when they sign the form.
Section H – Signatures
The form needs to be signed by all the sponsors included in Section A.
Please note: the form has a ‘stale date’ of 90 days. This means that IRCC must receive the application package including the Undertaking and Settlement Plan form BEFORE the signatures are 90 days old.
As a group discuss the settlement tasks that you are responsible for. Consider each member’s strengths. Research which settlement service provider organization (SPO) can help you address the settlement needs you can’t fulfill on your own.
Find SPOs in your area.
What happens once the application package has been submitted?
When your application is received at the Resettlement 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, you will receive a letter and/or email notification that the principal refugee applicant’s 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.