What Is a SAH?

A number of organizations have signed sponsorship agreements with the Government of Canada to help support refugees from abroad when they resettle in Canada. These organizations are known as Sponsorship Agreement Holders (SAH). They can sponsor refugees themselves or work with others in the community to sponsor refugees. Most sponsorship agreement holders are religious, ethnic, community, or service organizations.

Under the church's sponsorship agreement, the United Church works with congregations/pastoral charges that form a constituent group (CG) to sponsor refugees.

Who Can Be Sponsored?

People who qualify as refugees under the following two refugee classes may be sponsored under the Private Sponsorship of Refugees (PSR) Program:

  • The Convention Refugee Abroad Class
  • The Country of Asylum Class

Can We Sponsor a Refugee?

Your pastoral charge can sponsor a refugee/family if the visa post (office outside Canada where the refugee application will be processed) has allocation.

Your congregation or group can initiate the process to bring a refugee to Canada:

  • Contact the Refugee Advisor ( refugees [at] united-church.ca ) at the General Council Office to inquire if there are refugee spots. The General Council Office's role is to facilitate the sponsorship process for sponsor and refugee.
  • Congregations in a geographic area can team up to co-sponsor a refugee.

What Are the Different Types of Sponsorship?

Visa Office Referrals (VOR) – the refugee has already been identified as in need of protection by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) (or another referral organization overseas) and the Canadian visa office abroad, but requires a sponsor in Canada through congregations/pastoral charges, organizations, or groups.

Sponsor-Referrals (SR) - the sponsoring group has direct knowledge of particular refugees or refugee families overseas who have been brought to its attention. It is important to consider the refugees' personal stories and particular circumstances before making the commitment to sponsor.

  • Family has all funds but congregation sponsors to allow the refugees to reunite with family.
  • Family has no funds and congregation sponsors to allow the refugees to reunite with family.
  • Family and congregation jointly contribute funds.

People of all sexual orientation and gender identities refugee sponsorships are in partnership with Rainbow Refugee Canada.

The Blended Visa-Office Referred (VOR) Initiative - a program designed to resettle refugees identified by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and submitted to Canadian visa offices abroad. It is referred to as a "blended" program because it is a cost-sharing arrangement whereby Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) and The United Church of Canada both contribute to financially supporting the refugees.

How Does the "Blended" Model Work?
Refugees resettled under the Blended VOR Initiative will receive income support during the first 6 months after their arrival through the federal government's Resettlement Assistance Program (RAP). They are also fully covered under the Interim Federal Health Program (IFHP) for a full 12 months in addition to provincial health coverage. Sponsors will be responsible for the remaining 6 months of financial support. The SAH and its congregations/pastoral charges also have the responsibility to provide settlement and emotional support for the refugees for the 12-month sponsorship term.

Joint Assistance Sponsorships (JAS) - Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) sometimes partners with organizations to resettle refugees with special needs. Refugees with special needs may need more support than other refugees in order to settle in Canada. This program is for more vulnerable refugees. Refugees receive support from the government and a private sponsor for up to 24 months, depending on the case. In a few cases, the private sponsor may provide support for up to 36 months. JAS refugees get income support from the Government of Canada for food, shelter, clothing, and basic household goods.

LGBT Sponsorships – The United Church of Canada partners with the Rainbow Refugee Society in a Government of Canada cost-sharing initiative to facilitate cases that involve refugees who are fleeing persecution because of their sexual orientation and gender identities. Refugee cases are supported by the government for start-up expenses and three months of income support. LGBT cases can also be referred as VOR, SR, JAS, and BVOR refugees.

Privately named LGBT refugee cases are supported by the government for start-up expenses and 3 months of income support. BVOR LGBT refugees receive 6 months of government income support in addition to the start-up costs and comprehensive IFH (interim Federal Health).


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