Cambridge Immigration, Refugee,

Sponsor a Refugee

The Private Sponsorship of Refugees (PSR) program lets private groups sponsor eligible refugees abroad. As the private sponsor, you’ll support a refugee for the sponsorship period, usually up to 1 year.


Groups of Five Refugee Sponsorship refers to the process of five or more Canadian citizens or permanent residents who have chosen to sponsor a refugee living abroad to come to Canada.

This is only possible if the refugee is recognised by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) or a foreign state. This means the refugee, the principal applicant, must already have refugee status granted by an authorised body – the UNHCR or foreign state the applicant is now living in.

This page will first outline the eligibility criteria to be able to sponsor a refugee to come to Canada, of both the sponsors and refugee, and then outline the process involved in Group of Five Refugee Sponsorship.


To be eligible, each member of the group of five or more individuals must be:
• A Canadian citizen or permanent resident
• At least 18 years    
• Live in the same community that the refugee will be resettled in
• Agree to give settlement support for the length of the sponsorship (this is usually 1 year)  
The Canadian Immigration Authority (Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada) will assess individual contributions of each member of the group to the sponsorship. Both financial and non-financial aspects will be considered – for instance, the settlement plan.

The Group of Five’s financial commitment must meet the levels established by the Sponsorship guidelines. This means the sponsors must provide income support that is at least equivalent to the amount provided by the Canadian government Resettlement Assistance Program (RAP) in the target community.

Sponsoring groups must show that they are financially capable of sponsoring the refugee. They may demonstrate this with two different types of financial accounts: a formal trust fund or funds deposited in a savings or chequing account at a Canadian financial institution.

For both, funds can be contributed by a variety of individuals, groups, and organisations. Refugees cannot contribute to these funds. For a formal trust fund, the sponsoring groups must establish this with a Canadian financial institution and set out individual rights and obligations of the contributors, sponsors and beneficiaries.

For funds deposited into a bank account, the same rules apply, but it does not need to be a formal trust account. A savings account held with a financial institution in Canada, with a minimum of two account holders, is sufficient.

The Group of Five or more sponsors should support the refugee to becoming self-sufficient. This may entail costs of enrolling the refugee in language training, employment counselling and aid them in finding employment.

The financial commitment outlined in the Sponsorship Undertaking is:
• Up to 12 months or until the refugee becomes self-sufficient
• Up to 6 months or until the refugee becomes self-sufficient, for cases sponsored by the Blended Visa Office Referred Program (BVOR) which entails the IRCC covering an additional 6 months
• If the refugee becomes financially self-sufficient before the 6 or 12 months are over, the sponsors do not need to provide income support under the terms of the Sponsorship Undertaking
• If the refugee stops being self-sufficient, the sponsoring group must have the funds available to support them again

Sponsoring groups must support the sponsored refugee by:
• Providing the costs of food, rent, household utilities and other day to day living expenses such as clothing, furniture and other household goods
• Locate and pay for interpreters
• Locating and paying for family physicians, dentists and other healthcare providers
• Assist with health-care coverage applications
• Enrol children in school or adults in language training centresIntroducing them to other people in the target community and aid in integration
• Provide orientation in regard to banking and transportation activities
• Help the refugee search for employment

The sponsoring group should reside in the expected or target community of refugee settlement. The intent behind this is that a group of five or more people will exist to aid the refugee in integration – rather than one sole actor.

Please note:
• It is not possible to sponsor only 1 member of a family unit. In the case of a family unit, the Sponsorship Undertaking must name all family members listed on the Application for Permanent Residence, whether they are accompanying the principal application to Canada or not
• This means that family members may later follow the refugee to Canada under the provisions of the One Year Window program
• Family members include spouses, or common-in-law partners, dependent children, grandchildren, dependent children or grandchildren of their spouse
• The sponsoring group is obliged to provide support to all family members listed on the undertaking, regardless of their time of arrival to Canada
• The terms of this sponsorship are the same as those of the original refugee, unless the original refugee is now financially self-sufficient and able to adequately provide for their family members

Sponsoring groups must not:
• Profit financially from the sponsorship of refugees
• Accept funds from the refugees for any of the following situations, either before or after the refugees arrive in Canada: as payment for submitting a sponsorship, as repayment for lodging, care and resettlement assistance, as a deposit or guarantee the refugee will stay with the sponsor for one year after they arrive
• Act as a paid representative and charge fees
• Ask that the refugee, their relatives or friends use the services of a paid representative for the purpose of a Sponsorship Application

Cambridge Immigration, Refugee,

Who Can Be Sponsored

Only refugees recognised by an authorising body may be sponsored. They must be defined and recognised as a refugee by the UNHCR or a foreign-state in which the refugee now lives. This means they must already have Refugee Status Determination (RSD). Being registered with the UNHCR does not mean that refugee status has been determined.

The refugee must provide a document proving that recognised refugee status has been issued by the appropriate authorising body. A photocopy of this document, along with a certified translation (if necessary) will be sent along with the refugee sponsorship application. An RSD is not required for BVOR cases which have already been referred to Canada by the UNHCR. The refugee must not already be living in Canada at the time of application.

The Application Process

The sponsoring group may identify a specific refugee: this is known as ‘sponsored-referred refugee’. The refugee may be a family member, friend or refugee identified by an overseas contact. In other cases, the sponsoring group can ask for a visa-office referred refugee. These refugees are already recognised as RSD and have been chosen by an officer abroad – they only require a private sponsor to come to Canada.

There are two types of visa-office program: Blended Visa Office Referred, and Visa Office Referred. The only difference is that the Visa Office Referred Program asks the sponsoring group to take on the full cost of the refugee’s sponsorship. However, the stages of the application to both programs differs slightly.

• Canadian immigration officers review refugee files provided by the UNHCR
• Case information is provided to the Refugee Sponsorship Training Program (RSTP) in Canada, to be shared with potential sponsors
• Sponsors search for refugee profiles by contacting the RSTP, who then provide information about the refugees and their family. Each case has a period of 14 calendar days before being handed over to the Government-Assisted Sponsorship Program
• Once a case is chosen, the sponsoring group has 30 calendar days to submit a sponsorship application

• The sponsoring group requests refugee profiles from an IRCC office abroad, by emailing the IRCC Resettlement Operations Centre in Ottawa
• The sponsoring group alerts the RSTP Program and IRCC’s ROC-O know that they want to sponsor the VOR refugee
• A sponsorship application is submitted

Things to bear in mind when searching refugee profiles:
• That your community has other members of the refugees ethno cultural background
• That there is reasonably priced housing
• That there are medical and educational facilities, and trauma-relief counselling
• That there are jobs in your community

The Application Package is straightforward. The sponsoring group must complete the following application forms:
• Sponsorship Undertaking and Settlement Plan– Groups of Five (G5) [IMM 5670]
• Sponsor Assessment [IMM 5492]
• Financial Profile

Applications should be completed on a computer and hand-signed.
The necessary documents should then be gathered.

The refugee must submit the Application for Convention Refugees Abroad and Humanitarian-Protected Persons Abroad (IMM 6000), and enclose proof that they are a recognised refugee (RSD).

The application can then be mailed to Resettlement Operations Centre in Ottawa (ROC-O).

If the application is incomplete, the ROC-O will contact the sponsoring group to request amendments.

A receipt of the applications approval will be sent, and then a rejection of acceptance letter. You can check the status of the application online.It is also possible to withdraw your sponsorship application, by emailing the ROC-O and explaining why.

The accepted refugee will usually take around 3-6 months to travel to Canada. In some cases this timeframe is shorter.The Refugee Sponsorship Training Program, provided by the government of Canada, may help the sponsoring group prepare for their sponsored refugee coming to Canada.

Cambridge Immigration, Refugee,

Non-Accompanying Family Members and the One-Year Window (OYW) of Opportunity

Non-accompanying family members are spouses and dependent children of the sponsored refugee who did not travel with them to Canada. When they are located by a body such as the UNHCR, they may travel to Canada to join their family member. The sponsoring group or refugee can submit an OYW Application to ROC-O.

The family members must have been identified on the refugee’s application (Generic Application Form for Canada IMM 0008). OYW applications can only be submitted within 1 year of the sponsored refugee’s arrival in Canada. If all terms are met, the overseas IRCC office will deal with the family member coming to Canada.

After 1 year, family members are eligible for a processing under the family reunification category.


No case is to big or small. In the matters of immigration, nothing matters more than the firm and the people you choose to represent your interests.