Sponsor a refugee
IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Ministry of Immigration, Diversity and Inclusion (MIDI) has recently updated its website with information clarifying the status of the sponsorship suspension which was announced in January of this year. To read the suspension notice, click here.
We have summarized the highlights of this update in the content that follows. You can find a complete list of Frequently Asked Questions on the MIDI website.
General Information & Processing Applications
From January 27, 2017, until the anticipated end of the suspension on December 31, 2017, Quebec is not accepting any new sponsorship applications. Quebec will continue to process applications and welcome refugees whose applications were submitted before the suspension. The suspension does not affect government-assisted refugees.
The current processing time for MIDI’s sponsorship program is approximately five months. Currently there are 19,000 refugees whose files are being processed. MIDI estimates that these individuals’ arrivals will extend to 2021.
There is a backlog with the federal government due to increased applications, longer processing times in Canadian visa offices abroad, medical examinations and security investigations. MIDI notes that they are unable to intervene with applications while they are processed by the federal government.
Reform of Sponsorship Program
MIDI states on its updated page that due to consultations with stakeholders and refugees and an increase in applications in the last couple of years, there is a need to review and update the sponsorship program. MIDI notes that the suspension in accepting new applications will avoid future delays and allow organizations to focus on welcoming new arrivals during the course of this year.
MIDI has published the following Helpline for refugees and sponsors who have questions: 1 (844) 307-2433 (AIDE).
What is refugee sponsorship?
There are two ways that a refugee can be resettled to Canada
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), along with other referral organizations can recommend refugees to be resettled in Canada. In this case the government covers the cost of the resettlement.
2. Private Refugee Sponsorship
Individuals or groups can submit an application for a specific refugee family to the government of Canada. In this case, the individual(s) in Canada are responsible for covering the cost of the resettlement.
Who can ARM help?
ARM is only able to help people come through the Private Refugee Sponsorship program. ARM helps people of all origins and religions and does not ask for a fee or donation for any of its services.
Many people contact the office every year looking for help; it is not possible for us to help everyone. At this time there is a waiting list for the Sponsorship Program and it may be many months, or even years before we can take your case.
How does the private refugee sponsorship program work at Action Réfugiés Montréal?
ARM has an agreement with the Ministry of Immigration, Diversity and Inclusion (MIDI) to submit a limited number of sponsorships each year. We are only able to accept sponsors who are residents of the Montreal region (including Laval and the South Shore).
ARM currently has a long waiting list. It usually takes two years before a sponsor can start a file with us. If you would like to be added to the waiting list, please contact us with your name, phone number and valid email address.
Before accepting a sponsor, ARM evaluates the following criteria:
- Is the sponsor in Canada able to commit the time, energy and money that are needed to resettle one or several refugees?
- Is the refugee likely to meet the criteria of the definition used to determine refugee status by the Canadian government?
WE DO NOT ACCEPT REQUESTS FOR SPONSORSHIP DIRECTLY FROM PERSONS OUTSIDE CANADA. A CANADIAN PERMANENT RESIDENT OR CITIZEN MUST START THE PROCESS.
What is the application process like?
An application is normally composed of immigration forms completed and signed by the refugee applicant, along with photos and any supporting documents that are appropriate.
Once an application is submitted it must pass through 3 different offices. First it will go to the Ministry of Immigration, Diversity and Inclusion (MIDI) of Québec, then to the federal government, then to the visa office overseas covering the region where the refugee is living. Each of these offices has a different wait time. Depending on the country where the refugee is living, the process can take anywhere from 8 months to 5 years.
It is important that both sponsors and refugees realize that sponsorship is not an immediate solution, but rather a long term resettlement plan.
ARM offers the following services to clients of our sponsorship program
During the application process
- Detailed explanation of the sponsorship program.
- Assistance with the completion of all necessary immigration forms.
- Follow up with the refugee applicant as well as the sponsor in Canada during the 2 to 5 years that the application is in progress.
- Preparation for the interview the refugee applicant has with the visa officer to determine if they are accepted or not.
- In the case that the refugee is refused, assistance pursuing all legal routes available to overturn the decision (please note that legal expenses are the responsibility of the sponsor to pay).
After the refugee has arrived in Canada
- Help in orienting the refugee in their new life, as well as negotiating a new language and a new culture.
- List resources for services available through governmental and community organizations.
- Follow ups as needed depending on the needs of the refugee.
All our services are offered free of charge.
As a small community organization ARM strives to provide very personal and compassionate support. We understand that having loved ones overseas in a refugee situation is very stressful and difficult so we try to be as helpful as possible.
We encourage and support individual local churches wishing to sponsor refugees by providing information on the process and settlement needs, helping them raise funds, form committees and file the necessary paperwork. If your church is interested to sponsor a refugee please contact an employee of the Sponsorship Program.
Here are a few helpful links with some additional, more detailed information