The Private Sponsorship of Refugees (PSR) Program

The Private Sponsorship of Refugees (PSR) program is a pioneering Canadian refugee resettlement program.

Through the PSR program, Canadian citizens and permanent residents can engage in the resettlement of refugees from abroad. As members of organizations, associations and groups, citizens and residents can sponsor refugees overseas as any of following:

The PSR program does not rely on public resources, but rather taps the energy and funds of faith communities, ethnic groups, families and other benevolent associations. These groups and organizations typically raise funds or use their personal income to provide for and support the sponsored individual or family for their first year in Canada.

They initiate the process by submitting a refugee sponsorship application package to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). Their commitment lasts until the end of the sponsorship period, typically 12 months from the date of the sponsored person’s arrival in Canada.

Began in 1979

The arrival of Vietnamese refugees on Canadian shores – often referred to as the “Boat People” – in the mid 1970s mobilized Canadians to respond. In 1979, the Canadian government pledged to sponsor one refugee for each refugee that the Canadian public would financially and otherwise support privately. For the first time, ordinary people across the country became involved in assisting refugees to settle in Canada through private sponsorship. This changed forever the way Canadians would view their role in Canada’s refugee resettlement programs.

A model for the world

Canada is the first country in the world to have a refugee sponsorship program where private citizens and the community is directly involved in the resettlement of refugees from abroad. It has become a model for other countries around the world.



How do I find a refugee to sponsor?

RSTP will match sponsoring groups with suitable refugees or refugee families through the BVOR (Blended Visa Office-Referred) program. BVOR refugees have been identified overseas by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), and have been approved by the Canadian government. They are considered the world’s most vulnerable refugees. BVOR refugees include women at risk, LGBTQ individuals, survivors of violence and torture, and those who have had to leave their countries for political reasons. The Canadian government shares the costs of the sponsorship year with the sponsoring group, while the sponsoring group is responsible for resettlement.