A refugee is different from an immigrant. An immigrant is a person who chooses to settle permanently in another country. Refugees are forced to flee.
The Canadian refugee system has two main parts:
Refugees who come to Canada have left their homes, and in many cases they have had to live in refugee camps for many years. When they arrive in Canada, they have to start their lives over again.
The United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), along with private sponsors, identifies refugees for resettlement. A person cannot apply directly to Canada for resettlement. After they are identified, it takes time to process the cases.
Private sponsors across the country also help resettle refugees to Canada. Some do this on an ongoing basis. They have signed sponsorship agreements with the Government of Canada to help support refugees. These groups are known as Sponsorship Agreement Holders.
Sponsorship Agreement Holders can sponsor refugees themselves, or work with others in the community to do so.
Other sponsors, known as Groups of Five and Community Sponsors, are people or groups in the community who have come together to sponsor refugee(s). They do not generally sponsor refugees on an ongoing basis.
The Blended Visa Office-Referred (BVOR) Program matches refugees identified by the UNHCR with private sponsors in Canada.
Under our laws, we must carefully screen all resettlement cases. This makes sure that there are no issues related to security, criminality, or health. We work with our security partners to complete this work as quickly as possible.
The asylum program works to provide refugee protection to people in Canada who:
Not everyone is eligible to seek asylum. For example, people are not eligible to make a claim if they have:
Refugees often need help to settle. This is true whether they are resettled from overseas or granted protection in Canada. The Government of Canada works with many partners and stakeholders to provide many types settlement services. These services help refugees adjust to life in Canada.
Under the Resettlement Assistance Program, the Government of Canada or Province of Quebec helps government-assisted refugees with essential services and income support once they are in Canada. This helps them to settle.
The refugee gets this income support for up to one year or until they can support themselves, whichever comes first. Canada provides Resettlement Assistance Program income support to eligible clients who cannot pay for their own basic needs.
Basic social assistance rates in each province and territory help guide the amount of money refugees get for shelter, food and other things.
The Resettlement Assistance Program also provides these services during the first four to six weeks after clients get to Canada:
Private sponsors must provide financial and emotional support to any refugees they sponsor:
The sponsor’s support includes help with housing, clothing and food. Most sponsorships last for one year, but some refugees may be able to get help from their sponsors for up to three years.
Blended visa office-referred refugees get six months of Resettlement Assistance Program income support. Private sponsors give up to six months of financial support and up to a year of social and emotional support.
We also fund a settlement program that helps newcomers settle and adapt to life in Canada. To deliver these services, we work with:
These services include helping newcomers:
Access to settlement services continues until individuals become Canadian citizens.