HEADLINES

Canada: Refugee Sponsorship A Long, Complex Process

By JOE FRIESEN, September 10, 2015. The Globe and Mail

How private sponsorship works: Canadians can sponsor migrants as part of a group of five or more people, through community sponsorship, or through one of the roughly 90 sponsorship agreement holders (a mix of faith groups and secular organizations) that have signed agreements with the federal government to receive and sponsor refugees. In 1979, in response to the Indochinese refugee crisis, sometimes referred to as the boat people, Canada became the first country to create a system for private sponsorship.

child starving

Starvation is another way war is affecting children in Syria, lack of food is destroying their health and any chance of survival. (photo: @free_media_hub)

2. Refugee family:  They must be have left their country of origin, meet the refugee definition, have no other “durable solution,” and be able to settle in Canada. One of the sticking points is the requirement for a formal document proving designation of refugee status from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees or the state in which they are living.

3. Getting a group together: Organizations such as Lifeline Syria and others are encouraging Canadians to form groups of at least five to work together to sponsor refugees. These people must all recognize that they are taking on a serious task and will be responsible for the refugee family and their costs for up to year after arrival. A husband and wife can count separately as members of the group for the purposes of the application. Assembling a group often takes weeks or months. Potential sponsors must be 18, have some financial means, have no criminal record and reside in the community where the refugees will settle.

4. Choosing whom to sponsor: Most citizens who come forward to sponsor refugees have a person or family in mind, often relatives in crisis zones. Those who do not can get connected to a family through a sponsorship agreement holder (SAH) or through Ottawa’s Blended Visa Office-Referred program (BVOR), which places refugees already approved by the Canadian government after a referral from the UNHCR.

girls make peace

Two girls in a Syrian refugee camp pose for a reporter. (Photo: @free_media_hub)

5. Filling out forms: Refugee applicants need access to a computer to get Citizenship and Immigration Canada’s application forms. That can be a challenge. Then they have to be able to read and write proficiently in English or French. The forms are complex, typically with more than 150 questions.

Applicants must complete the same form any immigrant fills out, an IMM 0008, plus two additional forms known as schedule A and schedule 2. In the time between application and evaluation, families often change. People marry, have children, are reunited with dependents. The inconsistencies can lead to delays or rejection of the application, with several weeks of back-and-forth writing and checking between the family and the sponsors in Canada. It often takes a month or more.

6. Submitting application to Winnipeg office: The application of the sponsor and the refugee are submitted together to Citizenship and Immigration Canada’s central processing office in Winnipeg. Syrian files are supposed to be expedited, so it is typically a matter of days to weeks before the files are opened and assessed.

little boy smiles

This little Syrian boy is all smiles for the camera. (Photo: @free_media_hub)

If the forms are filled out correctly, the file is assigned a number. The prospective sponsors are assessed to ensure they have the financial means to support a refugee family for at least 12 months, and must submit current T4 forms. A scale is used to determine how much money needs to be raised to meet this requirement, but it is in the range of $25,000 to sponsor a family of four.

 

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via: Refugee sponsorship can be a long, complex process – here’s how it works – The Globe and Mail

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