Organizations and groups of individuals can sponsor refugees from abroad who qualify to come to Canada. The Private Sponsorship of Refugees Program gives Canadians and permanent residents an opportunity to help settle refugees in Canada.

Reaching Out Winnipeg can help you connect with others who are interested in helping a refugee to resettle in Winnipeg.

Sponsors are groups that commit to providing financial settlement assistance to refugees for one year or until they can support themselves financially, whichever comes first. This assistance includes meeting the refugee when they arrive in Winnipeg, providing suitable accommodations, basic furniture and other household essentials; clothing, food, local transportation costs, health care costs other than those insured by Manitoba Health and other basic necessities of life.

Sponsors also provide emotional and significant settlement assistance to the refugees for the duration of the sponsorship period. This includes ongoing friendship, providing encouragement and assistance with adjustment to life in Canada, teaching about rights and responsibilities of permanent residents in Canada and helping refugee(s) learn an official language and seek employment.

Private sponsors can agree to resettle individuals, couples or families.  Keep in mind that marriage is forced on many LGBT people, so children are not uncommon. In some cases, a group may want to sponsor a specific refugee or refugee family abroad. For example, it could be a family member, a friend or a refugee referred by an oversease contact. This is known as a “sponsor-referred refugee.” Sponsor-referred refugees must qualify under Canada’s Refugee and Humanitarian Resettlement Program.

If you want to sponsor a person overseas who you believe is a refugee, that person must complete an application to come to Canada. The Central Processing Office  will review the application and Visa Officers aborad will interview applicants to find out if they qualify. Processing times for these types of applications vary greatly based on the visa office processing the application and the complexity of the refugee’s case.

You will be told when the refugee application has either been approved or refused by the visa office. If it is approved, your group will get a Notice of Arrival saying when the refugee will arrive in Canada.

Sponsors can also request a “visa office-referred” refugee. This requires working closely with a Sponsorship Agreement Holder, an organization with a special relationship with Citizenship and Immigration Canada.  These refugees are eligible and have already been selected, but require a private sponsor before they can come to Canada. Groups can request a refugee profile if they want to sponsor a visa office-referred refugee through Citizen and Immigration Canada’s Matching Centre. These refugee(s) usually arrive in Canada between four and twelve months after a sponsorship request is approved. In some cases, refugees are ready to travel sooner. Groups will be notified about 10 days before the refugee is schedule to arrive in Canada.

There are several ways that individual Canadians, permanent residents and organizations can get involved in helping refugees build a new life in Canada. Find out more about the Citizenship and Immigration Canada Guide to the Private Sponsorship of Refugees Program.  Click on the links below to see which method of sponsorship might be right for you.

Blended Visa Office Referred Program
Constituent Groups
Groups of Five
Community Sponsors
Private Sponsorship of Refugees Toolkit (Resource from the Canadian Council for Refugees)

You will not be on your own when you sponsor a refugee. Beyond the support that ROW will provide to sponsors, there are other community agencies that will help you and the refugee in the process.

Have questions? Contact us. We’re always happy to talk to people interested in sponsoring an LGBT refugee.