2.D Refugee-Sponsor Relationship
D.4 What happens at the end of the sponsorship period?
(i) What is the appropriate length of a sponsorship undertaking? Under what circumstances can the length of the sponsorship vary?
How Canada Does It
Sponsoring groups agree to provide refugees with care, lodging, settlement assistance and support for the duration of the sponsorship period. Normally, this lasts twelve months starting from the refugees' arrival in Canada or until the refugee becomes self-sufficient, whichever comes first. The benchmark level of financial support under private sponsorship is roughly equivalent to social assistance rates. Thus, a refugee is deemed to be financially self-sufficient if their level of income is greater than or equivalent to prevailing social assistance rates in their community of settlement.
In exceptional circumstances, prior to the refugees' arrival, Canada may determine that certain refugees require more time to become established in Canada and require a longer period of support from sponsors. In those cases, the visa officer will ask the sponsoring group to extend the sponsorship period to a maximum of thirty-six months. The sponsoring group has the option of refusing the request for an extension of the sponsorship period but risks having the case refused as a result.
Sponsoring groups typically agree to provide the refugees with financial and settlement support for their first twelve months in Canada or until they become self-sufficient (whichever occurs first).
Sponsoring groups’ undertaking may be twenty-four to thirty-six months for refugees sponsored through the Joint Assistance Sponsorship (JAS) Program. These are refugees with special needs who require additional settlement support. Special needs may be required due to trauma from violence or torture, medical disabilities, systemic discrimination, or a large number of family members. In JAS cases, the Government of Canada provides income support for the duration of the sponsorship period while the private sponsors provide settlement and emotional support to help the refugees adjust to life in Canada.
In the case of Blended Visa-Office Referred refugees, the sponsorship undertaking is twelve months, but Canada provides six months of financial support.
Even after the formal sponsorship undertaking finishes, some sponsoring groups have decided to continue providing financial and settlement support to the refugees they have sponsored. Sponsoring groups are not required to inform the Government of Canada of their continued support past the formal sponsorship period.
In determining an appropriate length of sponsorship undertaking, stakeholders should consider the refugees’ capacity to become self-sufficient, the refugees’ special needs, and the sponsoring group’s capacity and motivation. Reports and articles have raised the challenges surrounding the transition from sponsor income support to self-sufficiency or provincial assistance in “Month 13” in Canada.