Privately-Sponsored, Government-Assisted, and Blended-Visa Office-Referred refugee and Protected Person classifications, explained
Privately-sponsored refugee (PSR)
A Privately-Sponsored Refugee (PSR) is a person who qualifies as coming within one of the two eligible classes of refugee (Convention Refugee Abroad or Country of Asylum) under Canada’s refugee and humanitarian resettlement program and has been privately sponsored by:
- A Sponsorship Agreement Holder (SAH).
- Incorporated organizations that have signed a formal sponsorship agreement with Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) (usually religious organizations, ethnocultural groups or humanitarian organizations.)
- The SAHs have their own association, The Canadian Refugee Sponsorship Agreement Holders Association, which describes its members’ functions as follows: “A SAH forms, trains, coordinates and supports multiple sponsoring or constituent groups to do the work of resettlement of refugees. A SAH is responsible for the necessary paperwork for a refugee sponsorship to be submitted to CIC and monitors a case’s progress as it is being processed and then during the settlement period.”
- A Constituent Group (CG).
- A group authorized by a SAH to sponsor under its agreement and provide support to the refugees. The SAH remains ultimately responsible for the emotional and financial support to be provided to the refugees.
- A Group of Five (G5).
- Five or more Canadian citizens or permanent residents, who are at least 18 years of age, live in the expected community of settlement and have collectively arranged for the sponsorship of a refugee living abroad. (Groups of 5 enter into an agreement directly with the government, whereas Constituent Groups work with refugees falling under the umbrella of a SAH.) The five individuals act as guarantors that the necessary support will be provided for the full duration of the sponsorship; or
- A Community Sponsor (CS):
- Any organization (for-profit/not-for-profit, incorporated/non-incorporated) located in the community where the refugees are expected to settle can make an organizational commitment to sponsor. (Unlike Sponsorship Agreement Holders, Community Sponsors have not entered into a pre-existing Sponsorship Agreement with the Canadian Government at the time of making a sponsorship application.)
A Group of 5 or Community Sponsor may obtain a referral from an overseas contact, a friend, the relative of a member of the organization or elsewhere. A SAH will match a Constituent Group with qualified refugees that it has already targeted for sponsorship.
At present, to qualify for being accepted as a GAR, PSR, or BVOR, with the exception of Syrians and Iraqis sponsored by a SAH or one of its Constituent Groups, the principal refugee applicant must already have refugee status documented by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) or the country in which the refugee is currently living.
For a discussion of the obligations of private sponsors in Canada, see: Obligations of private sponsors
Government-Assisted refugee (GAR)
A Government-Assisted refugee (GAR) is a Convention Refugee Abroad, normally referred for resettlement by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), whose initial resettlement in Canada is entirely supported by the Government of Canada or Quebec. This support is delivered by government-supported, non-governmental agencies.
Support can last up to one year from the date of arrival in Canada, or until the refugee is able to support himself or herself, whichever happens first. It may include accommodation, clothing, food; help in finding employment and becoming self-supporting; and other resettlement assistance.
The Syrian refugees recommended for resettlement in Canada by UNHCR are those with acute protection needs and vulnerabilities.
Blended-Visa-Office-Referred refugee (BVOR)
A Blended-Visa-Office-Referred refugee (BVOR) is a Convention Refugee Abroad referred for resettlement by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), who might otherwise be considered for settlement as a Government-Assisted Refugee (GAR), but for whom the government has found a private sponsor to match.
The refugees’ profiles are posted on a government website or made available through the Refugee Sponsorship Training Program (RSTP), so that potential sponsors can identify those whom they wish to support and then submit sponsorship applications. The Canadian Government assigns a priority for the overseas interviews of these individuals, in order to expedite processing.
Under the BVOR Program, the Government of Canada provides up to six months of income support, while private sponsors provide another six months of financial support, start-up costs and up to a year of social and emotional support.
Protected Person In Canada
In addition to the classifications described above, of refugees living abroad who are accepted for resettlement in Canada, there is a classification of “Protected Person in Canada”. This status may be given by The Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) and Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) to someone applying from within Canada, having already somehow made his or her way into the country. Such a person is determined by the IRB and CIC to have a necessity for safeguard. Had the person applied from outside of Canada, he or she might have been admitted as a resettled refugee. Protected Persons, once so designated, can apply for permanent resident status.