2.A Refugees: From Eligibility to Arrival
A.4 How are sponsorship-eligible refugees identified?
(iii) How can States work with referral organizations to identify sponsorship-eligible refugees?
How Canada Does It
Canada accepts referrals from UNHCR or a referral organization with whom the government has entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU).
In order for UNHCR to refer refugees for resettlement to Canada under the Government Assisted Refugee (GAR) program, or through private sponsorship through the Visa Office-Referred (VOR) program, the Blended Visa Office-Referred (BVOR) program, or the Joint Assistance Sponsorship (JAS) program (see 2.A.2(i)), refugees must meet the preconditions for resettlement considerations and fall under at least one of the UNHCR resettlement submission categories. Sponsor-referred refugees (also known as “named” refugees”) are not generally referred for resettlement by UNHCR or other partner agencies.
UNHCR is mandated to provide international protection to refugees and to assist governments in finding durable solutions for them. The three durable solutions are: (1) Voluntary repatriation, in which refugees return in safety and with dignity to their country of origin and re-avail themselves of national protection; (2) Local integration, in which refugees legally, economically and socially integrate in the host country, availing themselves of the national protection of the host government; and (3) Resettlement, in which refugees are selected and transferred from the country of refuge to a third State which has agreed to admit them as refugees with permanent resident status.
To be submitted for resettlement, individuals or families must meet the preconditions for resettlement consideration; and fall under one or more of the UNHCR resettlement submission categories:
- Legal and/or Physical Protection Needs of the refugee in the country of refuge (including threat of refoulement);
- Survivors of Torture and/or Violence, where repatriation or the conditions in the country of asylum could result in further traumatization and/or heightened risk; or where appropriate treatment is not available;
- Medical Needs, in particular life-saving treatment that is unavailable in the country of refuge;
- Women and Girls at Risk, who have protection problems particular to their gender;
- Family Reunification, when resettlement is the only means to reunite refugee family members who, owing to refugee flight or displacement, are separated by borders or entire continents;
- Children and Adolescents at Risk, including unaccompanied children where a best interest determination supports resettlement;
- Lack of Foreseeable Alternative Durable Solutions, which is generally promoted by UNHCR to address the needs of specific refugee groups, and when resettlement can be used strategically, implemented within comprehensive solution strategies, and/or can help unlock protracted refugee situations.
UNHCR works with governments to review admission targets and country-specific criteria for resettlement.
Canada also works with other referral organizations, which will usually provide the visa office with a referral form containing relevant information about the refugee.