A group of silhouetted figures walks across the ground. The sky is blue and there are dark clouds. Some of the figures are carrying suitcases.

I’m a refugee and want to be privately sponsored to Canada, but I’m not eligible for your program. What should I do?

Every day we are contacted by refugees from all over the world who want to be privately sponsored to Canada. MOSAIC, unlike most Sponsorship Agreement Holders, has dedicated all of the allocations given to it by Canadian immigration to the resettlement of one group of refugees for Operation #NotForgotten. Unfortunately, there are no other projects such as this that we are aware of.

The hard truth is that there are no easy ways to come to Canada as a refugee. But here are three main ways that refugees abroad can try to come to Canada.

Government Assisted Refugees

Government assisted refugees are those that have been referred to Canada for resettlement directly, normally by the UNHCR. First, you must contact the UNHCR where you are located, if that is an option, so that they can talk with you about why you fled your home country. The UNHCR makes determinations for resettlement on a variety of factors, including the level of vulnerability, safety concerns and whether durable solutions for resettlement are available. If the UNHCR refers you directly to the Canadian visa office, you might be considered for resettlement in one of two categories: (1) the Government Assisted Refugee (GAR) program, in which the Canadian government pays for the cost of your settlement for the first year, or (2) through BVOR (Blended Visa Office Referred Program), in which the Canadian government and private sponsors share the costs of resettlement.

Private Sponsorship

You may qualify for private sponsorship to Canada if you meet the requirements under Convention Refugee Abroad Class or Country of Asylum Class and if you have a private sponsorship group in Canada. Refugees often want tips and advice on how to find Canadians who will serve as their sponsors, and the simple answer is that there is no easy way to do this. There is no central place where you will find Canadians waiting to privately sponsor refugees, and there are many more refugees who wish to be sponsored than Canadians who are willing to be private sponsors. 

If you have a valid Refugee Status Determination then you are eligible to be sponsored by a Group of Five Canadians. The application process for Groups of Five is complicated and long and it requires significant commitment from a group of at least five people who live in the same city.

Refugees who do not have a valid Refugee Status Determination must be sponsored by a designated Sponsorship Agreement Holder (SAH). It is extremely hard to find a SAH with open sponsorship allocations and most SAHs have waiting lists that can be a year or more long. However, a list of Sponsorship Agreement Holders by province, along with their contact details, can be found here. This detailed guide to Canadian private sponsorship prepared by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) is also helpful. The Refugee Sponsorship Training Program (RSTP) also provides a wealth of information about Canadian private sponsorship and is funded by the IRCC.

Immigration as a skilled worker

If you qualify, it may be possible to immigrate to Canada as a skilled worker or through one of the other programs open to qualified candidates. We do not provide information or advice on these pathways, but you can find further information here.

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