Basic Refugee Sponsorship Information

The United Church of Canada holds a Sponsorship Agreement with the government of Canada. Under the terms of this agreement congregations can sponsor Visa Office Referred families or work with Syrian Canadians to re-unite their family members. We work through the General Council Office to do this.

It is also possible for United Church congregations to work with what are called “ Groups of Five” Canadians who want to be sponsors. If this is the situation, the “Groups of Five” need to go through a vetting process. In BC this is under the supervision of Heather Macdonald and Maggie Hosgood.

There are various designations of refugees. 

·         Visa Office Referred (VOR) refugees have been accepted by Canada and are in need of a sponsorship. Within this category there are Blended VOR cases. They are partially funded by the government. Sponsors take financial responsibility for the 1st and the 7-12th months and provide “hands on help” for the full year. Costs are shared in part as Canada’s public response, in part owing to heightened medical or psychological problems. Syrian BVOR are fast tracked and should arrive within 6 weeks to 3 months of submission of the sponsorship application.

·         Private Sponsorships are another category and the costs are fully borne by the sponsoring group. 

·         Sponsor-Referred refugees have friends or relatives in Canada advocating for help in reuniting their family. A valid way to protect refugees, it is also the only route available for refugee family reunification. Sponsors are financial responsible but in certain cases Canadian family members can share the costs.

·         For detailed and extensive information, refer to the United Church of Canada website and the Refugee Sponsorship Training Program website.

·         Congregations or Groups of Five wanting to work with the United Church, may contact Maggie Hosgood or Heather Macdonald through the BC Conference office to learn more about details of sponsoring Syrian refugees.