Diocese of Ontario Refugee Support (DOORS) focuses on the sponsorship of refugees as well as advocating for refugees. The diocese has been actively involved in Refugee sponsorship, and has been a Sponsorship Agreement Holder (SAH) with Citizenship and Immigration Canada for more than 20 years.
Who is a refugee?
Throughout history, groups of people have fled their home countries because of persecution and sought protection in a foreign country. Refugees are persons whose lives have been seriously affected by war, oppression, persecution and abuses of basic human rights and are now living outside their country of origin. There are other reasons why people leave their homes. Some people are displaced due to environmental disasters. Others are migrant workers who work outside their homelands. These people are migrants but are not considered refugees. Our government helps a set number of refugees come to Canada each year. Canadians increase this number by privately sponsoring refugees through Sponsorship Agreement Holders like The Diocese of Ontario.
The Canadian Immigration Act of 1976 established refugees as a class distinct from immigrants. Since then Canada has offered resettlement to thousands of government assisted refugees. Canada is also the only country that allows for the private sponsorship of refugees through Sponsorship Agreement Holders, helping our country to sponsor an additional number of refugees above the government numbers. Private sponsorship does not rely on public resources, but rather taps the energy and funds of faith communities, ethnic groups, families and other benevolent associations. Private sponsors offer personalized local support that the government is not able to provide.
What does sponsorship involve?
Sponsorship is a one-year commitment to support refugees as they adjust to life in Canada. You will provide or help them access:
- Health care
- Education for children
- Job and language training
Your congregation will provide friendship, teach about life in Canada, and learn about the newcomers’ culture, values and religious beliefs.
Full private sponsorship – The Constituent Group (CG), based in a parish or a community, provides both the finances and the settlement support for the full 12 months after arrival. If the refugee has not yet been assigned to resettlement in Canada via the visa office abroad, they need to undergo the refugee determination process abroad. The refugee applicant fills out application forms and the CG fills out an undertaking, which is then submitted to Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) for processing.
Family-linked – Relatives in Canada provide the settlement funds for the full sponsorship year, and the CG provides in-kind settlement support. Process is same as full sponsorship. The timeline for these sponsorships can vary from eight months to several years, depending on where the family is from and how much of a backlog there is at the visa post.
Blended Visa Office-Referred (BVOR) – A cost-sharing program with the Canadian government, which provides six months of settlement funds, with the CG providing the other six months, plus settlement support for the whole year. BVOR cases are on a list provided by the CIC Matching Centre. Requests for BVORs can be made through your coordinator (see contact information at the end). If BVOR cases are “travel ready,” meaning they have had their medicals and obtained their visas, they can arrive in Canada within a month. Otherwise they might come within 2-4 months.
How to begin
Contact DOORS. We’ll help your congregation set up a sponsorship committee and review refugee profiles. Work with DOORS to complete paperwork and communicate with Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC). Begin fundraising and make a settlement plan, designating tasks among committee members. DOORS will provide logistical support to your committee throughout the application and sponsorship process.