2.D Refugee-Sponsor Relationship
D.2 What intervention can mitigate risks of sponsorship breakdown?
(i) What steps should the state, sponsoring group, refugees, and potentially other actors consider taking to reduce the likelihood of a sponsorship dispute and breakdown?
How Canada Does It
Sponsorship breakdown is rare in Canada. Key practices Canada employs to maintain low levels of sponsorship breakdown include: requiring sponsors to submit detailed Settlement Plans as part of the sponsorship application; Sponsorship Agreement Holder (SAH) review of and supervision over the implementation of their Constituent Groups’ (CGs) Settlement Plans; sponsor training and advice on their responsibilities; overseas training for refugees to help manage expectations; and dispute resolution mechanisms.
In the Canadian context, sponsorship breakdown is rare. The following are key practices Canada employs that help to maintain low levels of sponsorship breakdown.
Assessing the sponsors’ eligibility and capacity to sponsor at the initial processing stage helps reduce the likelihood of sponsorship dispute and breakdown. Sponsors must submit detailed financial information and Settlement Plans as part of their application to sponsor refugees (see 2.B.3 and 2.B.4).
Similarly, SAHs may revisit the Settlement Plan with CGs and co-sponsors shortly before the refugees arrive in Canada, and/or shortly after the refugees arrive, together with the refugees. This is especially important if the sponsorship application processing time has taken several months or years, as the CG’s composition may have changed from the time the application was initially submitted. Post-arrival, SAHs may also visit the sponsored refugees’ homes to observe whether their living conditions are suitable and appropriate.
Sponsors should ensure they are adequately informed about their roles and responsibilities towards the sponsored refugees. Sponsors may inform themselves through training sessions offered by the Refugee Sponsorship Training Program, learning from other sponsors’ experiences, advanced planning and communication with any co-sponsors, communicating with the refugees prior to arrival (see 2.A.5), and ensuring adequate funds are available to support the refugees that reflect the actual costs of living in the community of resettlement. Sponsors should be aware of and minimize as much as possible the power imbalance inherent in the sponsor-refugee relationship. Sponsors should communicate their responsibilities clearly to refugees and manage expectations regarding the scope of their support.
Refugees should make efforts to learn as much as possible about life in Canada before arriving, for instance, by attending the International Organization for Migration’s Canadian Orientation Abroad pre-departure orientation and communicating regularly with their sponsors (see 2.A.3 and 2.A.5). This will help them manage their expectations and to understand the roles the sponsors will play in their resettlement.
Post-arrival, sponsors and refugees may also reach out to a number of organizations to help them resolve disputes. If the sponsoring group is a CG of a SAH, the CG may contact the SAH for assistance in mediating a dispute. SAHs may also reach out to the national SAH Association for further support. All sponsors may contact the Canadian Council for Refugees, local settlement agencies, as well as the Refugee Sponsorship Training Program, as they employ experts on refugee resettlement and private sponsorship who can provide information, resources, and services, as well as help to mediate and resolve disputes among sponsors or between sponsors and refugees. If these organizations sense a possible unresolvable dispute, they should contact the local migration office to trigger sponsorship dispute and breakdown procedures.