Sponsored refugees are convention refugees who have been allowed to immigrate to Canada. A convention refugee is a person who is outside his or her country of nationality and has a well-founded fear of persecution for reason of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group or political opinion, and is unable or unwilling, because of that fear, to obtain protection from that country. Or, if the person does not have a nationality, the person is outside of the country where he or she normally lives and because of that fear, is unable or willing to return there.
Who can be sponsored as a refugee?
Canadian immigration law allows the sponsorship of refugees as follows:
- Convention refugees abroad: a person who meets the definition of Convention refugee, who is living outside Canada and is seeking admission to Canada for resettlement purposes.
- Country of asylum class: a person is outside of his or her country of nationality but continues having problems as a result of civil war, armed conflict or violation of human rights
- Source country class: a person is living in his or her country of citizenship but is seriously affected by civil war or armed conflict in that country, and suffers a deprivation of his or her right of freedom of expression, dissent or belonging to a trade union and because of that has been detained or imprisoned.
In all cases, refugees do not have the possibility of a solution to their problems if they continue living in their country of nationality or country of residence, and view Canada as a durable solution to their situation. They must have valid travel documents.
Private groups and organizations can also sponsor refugees or persons who are living in refugee-like situations. Private sponsors commit themselves to working with refugees for their successful settlement in Canada during the first twelve months after their arrival. They provide them with basic financial, emotional support and settlement assistance.
Who can sponsor a refugee?
Among these private groups who can sponsor refugees or persons living in refugee-like situations is the “Group of Five” or “G5”. This means that a group of five or more Canadian citizens or permanent residents can submit an application to Citizenship and Immigration Canada to sponsor refugees or persons who are in a refugee-like situation to resettle in Canada and begin a new life. A Group of Five is usually a onetime group that is formed to respond to a specific situation regarding the sponsored refugees.
How does a G5 start?
A G5 usually starts when one of its members is concerned about the circumstances of a person or persons living in a foreign country, and who meet the definition of a convention refugee, country of asylum class, or source country class. This member then looks for other members within the community (family, friends, co-workers, etc) to form a group. All members of the group are equally responsible for the terms and obligations of the sponsorship, which includes financial, emotional, and settlement support toward the refugee or refugees being sponsored. At least three members of the group are expected to contribute financially. If there is a shortage of funds among the members, they may wish to raise that amount, or add more members to the G5 sponsorship.
How does G5 sponsorship work?
All members of the group must complete a Financial Profile where each indicates their annual income, the amount each is committing to the sponsorship, what each one will be responsible for (furniture, household effects, school registration, etc). These fields are quantified as in-kind donations, and the total amount of donations is deducted from the total amount committed to the sponsorship.
A settlement plan must be prepared. This plan details how the group will work with the refugees, who will do what, when, how, with what resources and where those resources will come from. A sponsorship application must be completed showing the names and information of the refugees who will be sponsored by the G5. The sponsored refugees must also complete an application for permanent residence in Canada which is processed by the Canadian visa office who has responsibility for the country where the sponsored refugee or refugees are living. All members of the Group of Five must be over 18 years of age and must live in the community where the refugee is expected to settle. The group must have the financial resources, expertise, and commitment to support the sponsored refugees for 12 months from the date they arrive in Canada. All members of the group must not be in default of a previous sponsorship. G5’s cannot sponsor persons who have already been refused under a previous application unless there is a change in their circumstances, persons who have been accepted as refugees by another country, and persons who feared persecution in the past but can find a durable solution in their country.
What does the G5 is provide the sponsored refugees with?
The G5 is expected to provide the sponsored refugees with the following:
- Furnished housing and household essentials
- Food, clothing, transportation, basic needs
- Help in finding a job
- Help in completing forms to apply for a social insurance number, health insurance, child tax benefits, etc.
- Help in registering them for language training
- Help in registering children in school
- Help in locating a physician
- Help from an interpreter (if necessary)
Essentially, the G5 must help with the sponsored refugees’ reception, care, lodging and settlement into the community.
Members of the G5 must meet certain requirements when submitting an application to sponsor refugees. At least three members of the group must prove that they can provide financial assistance to the refugees they are sponsoring. The amount of funds required will depend on the size of the family unit or number of persons being sponsored. Funds that the group has set aside to meet the sponsorship requirements should be in a bank. G5 members must also provide a plan for the settlement of the refugees they are sponsoring, The other members of the group can commit themselves to contributing in time and settlement assistance. G5 members commit themselves to ensuring that their sponsored refugees become self-supporting during the first year after their arrival in Canada.
Government assistance for refugees
These loans include airline tickets for travel to Canada provided the refugees have valid travel documents and medical examination for immigration purposes. These loans are signed by the sponsored refugees at the time their application for permanent residence in Canada is being processed by the Canada visa office. When they arrive in Canada, they may also apply for an Assistance Loan from Citizenship and Immigration Canada to cover any other expenses that may not be covered by the G5 sponsorship. Loans should be paid back as soon as possible, and the amount and time of payments can be negotiated with the Canadian government.