Update In Program Due To Pandemic Covid-19
Dear sponsors and representatives,
We last communicated with you on April 17th, 2020 to provide you with an update on how the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has affected the Private Sponsorship of Refugees (PSR) program. This Saturday marks World Refugee Day and provides us an opportunity to discuss and reflect on the challenges refugees face as well as the global environment in which we are all working. Resettling refugees is a proud part of Canada’s humanitarian tradition. It demonstrates to the world that we have a shared responsibility to help those who are displaced, persecuted and in need of protection. Canada plays a key role in helping refugees and providing hope for a safe and prosperous life for them and their families. Unfortunately, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic continues to cause many additional challenges to Canada’s resettlement program. While there are no significant updates regarding refugee processing or travel at this time, we recognize that this challenging situation causes many significant concerns for sponsors and applicants. Please be assured that IRCC remains committed to providing you with regular updates as the situation continues to evolve.
Application submission (no change since our message of April 17, 2020)
Sponsors may continue to submit privately sponsored refugee applications but are highly encouraged to submit applications by email to reduce processing times. Please note that applications must be complete, including criminal record checks for Group of Five and Community sponsors. Please consult the guides to find the email address where you can send your application and to ensure the applications are complete.
- Groups of Five:
- Community Sponsor:
- Sponsorship Agreement Holder:
*Mailed applications *(updated)
As was communicated during the previous email of April 17, 2020, IRCC had been unable to create mailed applications as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and a backlog has accumulated.
We are pleased to inform you that Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has now begun to create applications received by mail. Applications are being created based on the date that the application was received at the Resettlement Operation Centre, Ottawa (ROC-O). Due to the number of applications received and limited staff on hand, we ask for your patience as we process these applications.
*Please do not resubmit the same application by email if you have already submitted it by mail as this will create additional work and take us longer to process applications. *
E-mailed applications (no change since our message of April 17, 2020)
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) continues to be able to create PSR applications when they are submitted electronically by email. You will continue to receive Acknowledgement of Receipt (AOR) emails containing your file number once the application is created in IRCC’s electronic system.
Assessment of the sponsors’ eligibility (no change since our message of April 17, 2020)
IRCC continues to review applications and render decisions on whether the sponsor is eligible. Sponsors will be notified of this eligibility decision when it is made. Applications, where the sponsor is found eligible, will continue to be transferred to the appropriate migration office abroad.
Assessment of the refugee application (no change since our message of April 17, 2020)
As a result of the ongoing situation, migration offices have differing capacity to process PSR applications and interviews are not taking place at this time to protect the health, safety and wellbeing of applicants and staff. Applicants will be invited for their interview once it is possible to do so.
Processing and finalization of refugee applications (no change since our the message of April 17, 2020)
Migration offices that have capacity will continue to process refugee applications to finalization. You, as the sponsor, and the refugee that you are sponsoring, may continue to receive requests for documents or information; however you will now be given ninety (90) days to respond instead of the usual thirty (30) days. This additional time is given to everyone due to the COVID-19 situation to avoid the need for requests for extensions. This being said, the earlier the information is submitted, the faster the application can be processed.
Travel to Canada (updated)
As you may be aware, the Government of Canada has placed restrictions on the people who may travel to Canada. While we are aware that the IOM and the UNHCR have announced that they are resuming travel, there are no significant updates regarding refugee processing or travel at this time.
As restrictions begin to ease, a variety of factors may affect the length of time it takes to resettle refugees which are outside of IRCC’s control. This can include which countries and airports resume travel and when, hurdles regarding domestic movements, constraints issuing exit permits, and difficulties finding sufficient flights, to name a few. We will work hard to try and ensure refugees can be resettled as quickly as possible, however, it may take time.
Migration offices continue to be in communication with local authorities and partners to determine where and when resettlement travel may be possible and safe. Should travel be possible, we will contact you to determine whether you are able to accommodate the arrival of the refugee you are sponsoring. We appreciate your patience as we navigate this challenging and unprecedented situation.
We understand how this global pandemic continues to affect our applicants’ vulnerability and their desperate need for resettlement. Before organizing their resettlement, we need to ensure that safe, reliable travel is possible. This involves ensuring that the refugee can safely depart, that assistance can be provided in transit if necessary, and that the support structure is available in Canada for when they arrive.
While business resumption is a priority, we are ensuring that the resettlement of refugees is planned in close collaboration with other government agencies and in consideration of public health guidelines. Canada intends to uphold its international commitments, and overseas refugee resettlement will resume once conditions allow, which includes ensuring that there are appropriate measures in place to support refugees upon arrival.
In the next few weeks, we will provide you with further information on resuming travel for some privately sponsored refugees.
Thank you for your continued efforts during this challenging time to help those in need. Working to ensure everyone’s safety by managing the physical isolation of the quarantine period and preventing recent vulnerable arrivals from feeling socially isolated is not an easy task. IRCC has recently published a guidance document with further information, which is available on the RSTP website
We encourage sponsors, who have refugees within the sponsorship period, and are experiencing any challenges to reach out to IRCC for assistance. Officers are available to assist, and will work with you to help resolve problems, where possible.
In closing, we would like to thank you for your continued patience during this unprecedented time. Your health and safety, as well that of the refugees that you are sponsoring is paramount. We will strive to provide you with updates as the situation evolves so that you are aware of what to expect and so that you may pass that information on to the refugees you are sponsoring.
Resettlement Operations Centre - Ottawa, International Network
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada / Government of Canada