Canada is a nation that has a long, although primarily positive, history with allowing refugees to enter and settle in Canada. Although refugee law and processes have changed greatly over the years, Canada has consistently accepted refugees from around the world.
The Canadian Government defines refugees as people who have fled their country due to a well-founded fear of persecution and cannot return to their home country. A distinction is made between refugees and immigrants in that immigrants choose to leave their country and settle permanently in another country. In contrast, refugees are individuals who have been forced to flee to a new country.
This article will provide an overview of the Canadian Government’s recent expansion plan for the Private Sponsorship of Refigees Program.
Today, there are a number of ways in which individuals can seek refugee protection in Canada. A person can either make a refugee claim directly to the Canadian Government as an in Canada asylum claimant, or they can come to Canada through a refugee sponsorship program.
In certain humanitarian crises, the Canadian Government may also create special refugee application programs for those who are impacted by those crises. Recently, the situations in Ukraine and Afghanistan have prompted the Canadian Government to create special programs to accommodate refugees from those countries.
All of these options can allow refugees to gain permanent residence status in Canada.
In recent years, privately sponsored refugees have formed a large proportion of the refugees that are admitted into Canada. Private sponsorship of refugees is a growing alternative to individuals making refugee claims directly to the Canadian Government. Further, it allows individuals to apply from outside of Canada.
The Private Sponsorship of Refugees Program allows for refugees to be privately sponsored by a group or organization, with specific sponsorship permission, in order to come into Canada. It is important to note that individuals cannot privately sponsor refugees.
In order for an organization or group to privately sponsor refugees, there are certain requirements that must be met first. Firstly, the group or organization must be approved by the Canadian Government. Once they have received approval, the group or organization is referred to as a Sponsorship Agreement Holder, which comes with a list of responsibilities.
In order to sponsor refugees, Sponsorship Agreement Holders must show that they can support a refugee for the entirety of the proposed sponsorship period, which is typically one year. The sponsor is required to provide ongoing supporting, including:
Once this level of support is established, the Sponsorship Agreement Holder must commit to supporting the refugee for the proposed sponsorship period.
The Government of Canada has updated the Private Sponsorship of Refugees Program. In February 2023, the Government of Canada announced that sponsorship opportunities under the Private Sponsorship of Refugees Program will be increased this year to 13,500. This increase represents a large expansion of the Program in the last decade. The number of refugees Canada can accept through the Program has increased by a factor of 10 since the cap was first introduced in 2012.
The Canadian Government expects that the updated cap will allow for new Sponsorship Agreement Holders to start sponsoring refugees and helping out those who are providing sponsorship.
A total of 51 new organizations applied in 2022 to become new Sponsorship Agreement Holders, some of which are on track to be approved later this year.
The Private Sponsorship Program is not the only Program by which refugees can come to Canada. There is also the Government Assisted Refugee Program, and the Blended Visa Office Referred Program. These programs can help financially support refugees and lower the total cost of sponsorship.
Together will help the Canadian Government, these programs will help Canada reach its target number of resettled refugees and protected persons of 76,305 in 2023, as set out in the 2023-2025 Immigration Levels Plan. Of the 76,305 refugees and protected persons accounted for, around a third are privately sponsored refugees, with another third accounted for as government assisted refugees. Since the inception of private sponsorship of refugees in Canada, more than 300,000 refugees have been admitted to Canada via private sponsorship.
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