Private sponsorship of refugees

Canada has different programs to resettle refugees. In addition to the Government-Assisted Refugees (GAR) program and the Blended Visa Office-Referred (BVOR) program, Canadian citizens and permanent residents are also able to help refugees build a new life in Canada through the Private Sponsorship of Refugees (PSR) program. The PSR program allows Canadians to resettle specific individuals or families who qualify as refugees under Canada’s refugee and humanitarian program. Privately sponsored refugees are approved outside of Canada by Canadian visa officers and they become permanent residents upon arrival in Canada. Private sponsors are volunteer groups of Canadians or organizations, including faith-based associations, ethnocultural groups or settlement organizations. Sponsoring groups are responsible for providing refugees with the settlement assistance, material and financial support necessary for the duration of the sponsorship period – usually up to one year from the date they arrive in Canada, along with social, emotional and settlement support. They can sponsor refugees under one of the following three programs:

  • Groups of Five (G5): Five or more Canadian citizens or permanent residents with the financial and settlement capacity to fulfill sponsorship requirements who collectively arrange for the sponsorship of a refugee living abroad to welcome them in their community.
  • Community Sponsors: Organizations, associations or corporations located in the community where refugees will be resettled, with the financial and settlement capacity to fulfill sponsorship requirements.
  • Sponsorship Agreement Holders (SAHs): Incorporated organizations that have signed an agreement with Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) and assume overall responsibility for the management of sponsorships. SAHs can also authorize Constituent Groups (CGs) from the community to sponsor refugees under their agreement.

Sponsors often commit to this process for refugees whose stories they have heard from friends, community members, relatives or overseas contacts. If you wish to sponsor a refugee through the PSR program, you should first consider whether or not the person is eligible under the program. For instance, only refugees recognized by UNHCR or a State are eligible for the Group of Five or Community Sponsorship. Learn more about the Private Sponsorship of Refugees (PSR) program on Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada’s website and on the Refugee Sponsorship Training Program’s website.

The province of Québec receives and approves its own applications for private sponsorship. Learn more about private sponsorship in Québec on Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada’s website and on the website of the Ministère de l’Immigration, de la Francisation et de l’Intégration du Québec.