2.B Sponsors: From Mobilization to Engagement
B.3 Who is eligible to sponsor and what is their relationship to government?
(i) How are sponsors matched to refugees?
How Canada Does It
Sponsors are matched to refugees either by (a) nominating specific refugees they know for sponsorship (“sponsor-referred” or “named” sponsorships); or (b) by selecting refugees to sponsor from a list provided by Canada. Canada matches some of the refugees referred for resettlement by UNHCR through its Visa Office-Referred (VOR); Blended Visa Office-Referred (BVOR); and Joint Assistance Sponsorship (JAS) programs.
Canada receives referrals of refugees identified for resettlement by UNHCR. Out of these refugees, many are resettled directly by Canada. A large number, however, are selected by overseas visa officers to be matched with private sponsors in Canada who will provide them with support. These are known as VISA OFFICE-REFERRED sponsorships. There are several types of Visa Office-Referred sponsorships:
- Visa Office-Referred (VOR) sponsorships where the private sponsor is responsible for full financial and settlement support during the sponsorship period;
- Blended Visa Office-Referred (BVOR) sponsorships where the government and the private sponsor share the financial costs of sponsorship but the private sponsor is responsible for settlement support; and
- Joint Assistance Sponsorships (JAS) for refugees with special needs (e.g. victims of trauma or torture, particular medical conditions, exceptionally large families) where the government provides full financial support throughout the sponsorship period (normally two years) and the private sponsor is responsible for providing settlement support.
In Canada, the matching process is administered by the Refugee Sponsorship Training Program (RSTP). Visa officers provide case information of refugees identified for Visa-Office referred sponsorships to the RSTP. The RSTP creates profiles that are posted in an online database. Groups of Five (G5s) and Community Sponsors (CSs) must register with the RSTP in order to participate in the matching program. The registration process includes filling out a form and participating in an orientation and training webinar. Sponsorship Agreement Holders (SAH) and Constituent Groups (CG) are automatically registered to receive Visa Office-Referred refugee profiles. These profiles contain limited personal information to protect the privacy of the refugees but enough information that sponsors can determine if they wish to be matched. This information may include the size of the family, family composition (e.g. ages and gender of family members), nationality, any preferred destination in Canada, and any special needs (e.g. medical needs).
When refugee profiles are available, RSTP notifies all SAHs and registered G5s and CSs, who can access a database and view the profiles. Each profile is available to all sponsoring groups for three weeks. If a sponsoring group is interested in sponsoring a refugee family on the list, they will request that the RSTP place a hold on the profile. Once a hold is placed on the profile, the RSTP sends the sponsoring group an expanded profile with more details about the refugee family. The sponsoring group has three days to inform the RSTP of its decision to move forward with the sponsorship.
Once a match is made, the RSTP informs the Government of Canada that the sponsorship will proceed. Sponsors have six weeks from the date the profile is first referred to RSTP to submit their sponsorship application forms. Canada processes the sponsorship forms to ensure the sponsors meet the financial and settlement criteria to sponsor. Because the refugees have been pre-selected for the matching program, they do not need to submit separate resettlement application forms as part of the sponsorship application. If sponsors do not follow through with the sponsorship within the three weeks the profiles are available, or the three week period passes, Canada will proceed with resettling the refugees through the Government-Assisted Refugee (GAR) program.