Private sponsorship means that a Sponsorship Agreement Holder or a group of Canadians has agreed to submit an application for you to come to Canada. These groups have committed to provide you with financial and settlement support for the period of your settlement, which is typically one year after you arrive in Canada. During this period you have certain rights but also responsibilities.
Your Rights as a Privately-Sponsored Refugee
Sponsors are responsible for making sure that you are financially supported during your first year, and they can do this through a combination of direct financial support and donated (in-kind) items. Your sponsors should make sure that you have enough financial support to cover appropriate housing, food, clothing and local transportation. The type of support that sponsors are able to provide will depend on how much funding was raised for your sponsorship, but the minimum amount to support you should be equal to or greater than the minimum RAP (Resettlement Assistance Program) rates. It’s important to remember that housing in Canada can be quite expensive, so your sponsor group will need to work with you to find housing that is adequate and appropriate for you and your family while still within your budget.
Sponsors must also assist you to adjust to life in Canada. This includes helping you to find housing, showing you around your new neighbourhood and city, helping you apply for health coverage and find healthcare providers, help you enrol in English classes and help you apply for important documents such as a Social Insurance Number (SIN) or open a bank account. They can also help connect you with employment services and other settlement supports, including mental health supports.
Your Responsibilities as a Newcomer to Canada
So what are your responsibilities as a newcomer to Canada under private sponsorship? The goal of the first year in Canada is for newcomers to become self-sufficient. Newcomers are not required to take on paying work unless they feel able to, but it is important that they attend English classes and also connect with settlement organizations to see what services are available to support them. The first year is meant to allow the newcomer to get used to life in Canada and to form a plan to be on their own once the one year of sponsorship is finished.
Arriving as a Canadian Permanent Resident
When newcomers arrive in Canada they are Permanent Residents and have freedom of movement. As a newcomer you can live anywhere you would like in Canada. However, the expectation is that you will remain in the community where your settlement team lives for the first year. Settlement teams commit to supporting newcomers with the expectation that they will live in the same area. If you decide to move to another location, your settlement team may not be able to provide you with further social support. You will, however, continue to receive your sponsorship support funds no matter where you live in Canada.