Resettlement is the organized transfer of refugees from the country where they have sought asylum to another country that has agreed to admit them, grant them the right to permanent residency and, eventually, give them the chance to gain a new citizenship. UNHCR works with States to help refugees who are most at risk find a safe new home through resettlement.
When resettlement places are offered by countries such as Canada, UNHCR offices in refugees’ countries of asylum will identify those at risk and submit their cases to resettlement countries. Refugees must be registered with UNHCR or the State authorities in the country where they found asylum to be considered for referral. The authorities of resettlement countries make the final decision as to whether or not a refugee can be admitted to their country.
Once refugees are referred for resettlement by UNHCR, Canadian visa officers assess whether they are in need of resettlement and conduct medical, criminal and security screenings. Upon arrival, resettled refugees become permanent residents and, in time, can apply for Canadian citizenship.
UNHCR Canada is not involved in the selection of refugees who will be resettled to Canada and is not able to intervene or influence the process of determining whether someone can be considered a refugee or if a refugee can be resettled to Canada.
Refugees who are referred for resettlement to Canada by UNHCR, and other partners with which Canada has an agreement, are admitted either under the Government-Assisted Refugees (GAR) program or the Blended Visa Office-Referred (BVOR) program. Those who benefit from the GAR program receive financial support from the Canadian government for up to one year from the date they arrive in Canada, while the BVOR program matches refugees with private sponsors in Canada. Costs are shared between the private sponsor and the Canadian government, with each party providing six months of financial support, along with sponsors providing 12 months of social, emotional and settlement support. Refugees who are ready to travel are matched with sponsors with the help of the Refugee Sponsorship Training Program.
Private sponsors are groups of Canadians or organizations, including faith-based associations, ethnocultural groups or settlement organizations, who volunteer to sponsor refugees through one of Canada’s Private Sponsorship of Refugees programs.
In the province of Québec, the process is a bit different. Québec officials are also responsible for screening potential candidates for the GAR program. Learn more about the program in Québec on Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) ’s website and on the website of the Ministère de l’Immigration, de la Francisation et de l’Intégration du Québec. The province of Québec does not have a Blended Visa Office-Referred (BVOR) program.