There are many parts to the application process, some of which happen in Canada, and some of which occur overseas at the Canadian visa office. Unfortunately, private sponsorship is not a quick process and there is no exact timeline for how long each step will last. Ultimately, it is the Canadian government that controls the application approval process, and global events such as COVID mean that timelines can be delayed. But we hope this step-by-step outline will make the process a little more clear.
Step 1: Registration
The very first step is to register your interest in coming to Canada through Operation #NotForgotten. If you were detained on Manus or Nauru (even if you are now located onshore in Australia) and have been rejected from the USA resettlement deal, you may register your interest in Canadian private sponsorship here. At this time, Ads Up Canada is only working to facilitate private sponsorships for those refugees who were detained as part of Australia’s offshore processing system. If you have already registered through Ads Up Canada or MOSAIC, then you do NOT have to register again. If you are unsure if you have registered, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. Please note that registration is not an application, but only indicates that you are interested in participating in Canadian sponsorship.
Step 2: Selection
Working in consultation with the UNHCR, MOSAIC identifies and prioritizes persons from Manus, Nauru and Australian detention who have registered their interest in Canadian sponsorship. There are many factors that go into determining priority, and we also need to take into account whether funding is available to support the application. If a refugee is approved to submit an application, MOSAIC will work with them to complete an application and assemble supporting documentation. At the same time, Ads Up Canada works to find a supportive settlement team for the refugee’s first year in Canada.
Step 3: Application Submitted to IRCC
Once the application has been completed and reviewed by the professional staff at MOSAIC, it is submitted to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). Ads Up contributes a ”Settlement Plan” to the application, which is written to indicate who will be sponsoring the refugee and what supports will be accessed in the local community. This plan is reviewed by MOSAIC and submitted to IRCC along with the refugee’s application.
Step 4: G Number/Sponsor Group Approval
After the application is submitted, the applicant, and typically all members of the settlement team, receive an email confirmation that contains the applicant’s “G number” (case number). It will also indicate that the sponsor group has been approved. At this time, the file is sent overseas to the Canadian Migration Office (the “visa office”) in Sydney, Australia for further processing. It is difficult to predict how soon after submission the refugee will receive the G number, so don’t worry if it doesn’t come right away. Once a refugee has received their G number they are able to check their application status on this IRCC website.
Step 5: Interview Notice
Once the Canadian Migration office in Sydney has reviewed the application, the refugee will receive an interview notice from them indicating the date, time, and location of the interview. There may also be a request for additional documents to be completed. In some cases refugees may be called directly for a medical exam, but we expect that most will be called for an interview first. The interview is a chance for the refugee to tell their story, assisted (if requested) by an interpreter. RSTP provides a good overview of the interview process in different languages here. MOSAIC will also work with applicants to prepare them for the interview. Please be aware that interviews for Operation #NotForgotten began June 2021. However, we do not have a timeline on the completion of interviews and do not know the order in which interviews will be conducted. If you are an applicant and receive any communication from the Sydney Migration Office, please forward it to MOSAIC at firstname.lastname@example.org so that they may advise you.
Step 6: Admissibility Checks
Once the refugee passes the interview, they will move to the “admissibility” stage where they will receive medical, criminal and security screenings. The only one of these screenings that refugees are present for is the medical exam. The medical exam is primarily to screen for diseases that may be a public health threat.
Step 7: Getting Ready to Travel
Once the refugee has passed all the screenings, they will receive a visa(s) and travel arrangements to Canada will be made. Note that because of the impact of COVID on border closures and the resumption of travel, there may be a period of time between the completion of screening and travel arrangements. The sponsor group will be notified of the refugee’s travel details; this usually happens 3-4 weeks in advance of travel. While waiting to travel the refugee can make use of Canada’s Pre-Arrival Services for new immigrants.
Step 8: Travel to Canada!
When the refugee arrives at the airport, they are no longer known as a “refugee” but a NEWCOMER! And as soon as they arrive at the airport they are Canadian Permanent Residents, with all of the privileges that entails. Members of the settlement team, Ads Up Canada or MOSAIC staff will be waiting outside of customs with big smiles, flags and welcome signs!