Become a sponsoring group

Are you thinking of sponsoring a family of ‘refugees’? Then there are a few questions, both practical and personal, which you should ask yourself.

Why? This is a two-part question.

First, think about the term ‘refugee’. What does it mean? To paraphrase the UN definition: a person or persons who have fled beyond their country’s borders and cannot return because of a well-founded fear of persecution on the basis of ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, or political persuasion. Implicit in this definition is seeking ‘asylum’; people seeking refuge from civil-war or armed conflict. “Why?” or, in other words: “Do people in such circumstances deserve our empathy, respect, sanctuary and hospitality, because they are people?” Put another way, “Would I hope for an offer of sanctuary, of hospitality if I were in their situation, because I am a person, and people are worthy of empathy and respect?” If you have answered these questions in the affirmative, because “Yes” reflects the kind of world which you would like to live in, proceed.

How? This depends on you, your group and which of the various sponsorship mechanisms is the most suitable under the circumstances.

The following is a brief summary of the different types of private (non-Governmental) sponsorship as well as links where you can find more information. The first “how” is the type of group you form. There are three types of private sponsorship groups:

Constituent Group (CG): A group you form, which then partners with a Sponsorship Agreement Holder (SAH).
The SAH allows you sponsor on their behalf and will help you select a family sponsor. The SAH retains liability for managing the sponsorship. There are many SAH’s in Ontario, representing various churches and organization. You can find more information on CGs and a list of SAH’s here:

Group of Five (G5): Any group of five Canadians or permanent residents can form a G5 in order to sponsor refugees.
In a G5 the group assumes responsibility for the for the sponsorship. You can find more information on G5s here:

Community Sponsorship Groups (CSGs): An organization, corporation or association that meets the criteria of a CSG may submit two sponsorship undertakings per year.
You can find more information on G5s here:

These three groups engage in Private Sponsorship of Refugees (PSR). In PSR each group assumes full responsibility for funding the sponsorship (although the government does offer support for Blended Visa Office Referred sponsorships – see below).

A second type of sponsorship is Joint Assistance Sponsorship (JAS). JAS is intended for refugees identified by the visa office as having special needs. The Canadian Government will fund the sponsorship, while logistical and other support is provided by the SAH and/or their CG. The SAH/CG is the only group which may participate in JAS. You can find more information on JAS here:

Who? Once you have decided which group to form, you must consider who to sponsor. There are two options. Blended Visa Office-referrals (BVOR) are refugees who have already been identified as refugees in need of resettlement by the UNHCR and the Canadian Visa Office abroad, but who require a sponsor in Canada. These refugees are matched with an SAH/CG, a G5, or a CSG. You can find information on BVOR here:

Sponsor-referred cases are refugees who have been identified by the sponsoring group and referred to Citizenship and Immigration Canada, e.g. through a referral by a permanent resident in the community. Refugees abroad must have been referred by the UNHCR or have been determined by Canadian Visa Officials as fulfilling the legal standard of a “Convention Refugee Abroad”.

More information of Private Sponsorship generally, including sponsor-referred, can be found here:



The following list from CIC lists the responsibilities of sponsoring groups towards the refugees they sponsor:

Private sponsors normally support the sponsored refugees by:

  • providing the cost of food, rent and household utilities and other day-to-day living expenses
  • providing clothing, furniture and other household goods
  • locating interpreters
  • selecting a family physician and dentist
  • assisting with applying for provincial health-care coverage
  • enrolling children in school and adults in language training
  • introducing newcomers to people with similar personal interests
  • providing orientation with regard to banking services, transportation, etc.
  • helping in the search for employment


The following cost table is provided by CIC covers the costs of sponsorship for one year based on family size. It is important to remember these are approximate figures linked to average social assistance rates across Canada. However, it may be more or less depending on costs of living and does not include in-kinds deductions or government assistance (available in for BVORS and JAS).

Sponsorship Cost Table ($)
Family Size12 Months of
Income Support
Start-up CostsEstimated Total Annual
Settlement Cost ($)

























Additional Member




More information can be found in CIC’s “Guide to Private Sponsorship” at:

There are a number of other useful links which can provide you with more information on the sponsorship process and how to apply:

CIC – Refugees and Asylum

CIC’s Sponsorship FAQ

The Refugee Sponsorship Training Program (RSTP)