Last Updated: June 9, 2017

Syrian refugees across Canada arriving through 2017


Between November 4, 2015 and January 29, 2017, a total of 40,081 Syrian refugees were settled in Canada, according to the Government of Canada. While the government has since stopped providing public updates on the level of Syrian refugees who have arrived in the country, our estimate is that an additional 8,540 to 12,590 will be settled by the end of December, 2017, bringing the total to between 48,621 and 52,671.


Of the 40,081 Syrian refugees who had been resettled in Canada as of January 29, 2017, 36% were PSRs, with private sponsors also being associated with an additional 10%, who were BVORs. Thus, 46% of all Syrian refugees across the country had the support of private sponsors as of early 2017.



Syrian refugees settled in Canada since Nov 4, 2015, by date of arrival

Nov 4/15 – Feb 29/16 (approx.)


Mar 1/16 – Jan 2/17


Total as of Jan 2/17


Jan 2/17 – Jan 29/17


Total as of Jan 29/17


Jan 30/17 – early May/17 (est.)


Early May/17 – Dec 31/17 (est.)

1,540 to 5,590?

Estimated total as of Dec 31/17

48,621 to 52,671?




As indicated in the table below, 64% of all Syrian refugees across the country, as of early 2017, whether GARs or BVORs, were recommended for resettlement as having acute protection needs and vulnerabilities. These newcomers have not likely been settled near friends and family and, in general, are much more disadvantaged than PSRs.


Syrian refugees settled in Canada Nov 4, 2015 to Jan 29, 2017, by stream

Stream/category of refugee Number %
Government-assisted refugees (GARs) 21,876 55%
Blended Visa Office-Referred Refugees (BVORs) 3,931 10%
Sub-total of GARs and BVORs 25,807 64%
Privately Sponsored Refugees (PSRs) 14,274 36%
Total as of January 29, 2017 40,081 100%



2016 year-end ‘inventory’ of Syrian Privately-Sponsored Refugees

Plans were announced to clear a 2016 year-end ‘inventory’ of privately-sponsored, Syrian refugees by early 2017. Based upon the detailed list of Syrian refugees by city in Canada that was published by the government in early January, 2017, which included a column for Privately-Sponsored Refugee ‘inventory’, there were approximately 7,000 individuals in this category as of the end of 2016/beginning of 2017. (We have been unable to find any definition of the term ‘inventory’ that the government has been using.)


In May, 2017, at an event organized by The New York Times in Toronto, the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration estimated that approximately 90% (suggesting to us about 6,300) of these refugees in ‘inventory’ had already arrived in Canada.


We assume that the Government of Canada’s 2017 target of 16,000 privately-sponsored refugees from all countries includes the estimated 7,000-person ‘inventory’ of Syrian refugees as of the end of 2016.


Balance of Privately-Sponsored Refugees to be settled in 2017

This assumption would allow for only 9,000 additional PSRs from across the world in 2017. Based upon the government’s announced intention to clear the current backlog of applications, we expect that almost all of these 9,000 refugees will be those for whom application was made in 2016 and earlier.


New applications by private sponsors of Syrian refugees since December, 2016

In December, 2016, the government announced that Groups of 5 and Community Sponsors could make new applications to sponsor a total of only 1,000 more Syrians and Iraqis, under the special exemption from having to provide a document proving refugee status, issued by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) or by the country where they were then living. By January 25, 2017, the government announced that this quota had already been filled. It is not clear how many of these 1,000 individuals, for whom applications were accepted, will be settled in Canada by the end of 2017. Some or all of those accepted (which may be fewer than the 1,000 for whom applications were submitted) may not arrive until 2018 or later.


(Sponsorship Agreement Holders and their Constituent Groups (as opposed to Groups of 5 and Community Sponsors) can continue to apply to sponsor Syrian refugees under the exemption from documentation to prove refugee status, but the government has left the public with the impression that actual admission of these refugees under applications made in 2017 would almost all be delayed until after the end-of-year 2016 backlog of applications had been cleared and that this would take until at least 2018.


Groups of Five and Community Sponsors may also continue to submit applications to sponsor Syrian refugees, but these individuals must now be properly documented as having refugee status. It seems highly unlikely that any such individuals will be settled in Canada before the end of 2017.


The Government of Canada has not provided any guidance as to how many of the 9,000 Privately-Sponsored Refugees to be approved for settlement in Canada during 2017 (in addition to the 7,000 or so Syrians who were in ‘inventory’ as of the end of 2016, for a total target of 16,000) will be Syrians. There is a large backlog of applications that have been made for refugees from other countries, as well.


Government-Assisted and Blended Visa Office Referral refugees arriving in 2017

The government has set a target of 7,500 Government-Assisted Refugees arriving from all countries for 2017. Perhaps 800 to 2,500 (10.7% to 33%) of these will be of Syrian origin, although this is just our guess.


The government has also set a target of 1,500 Blended Visa Office Referral refugees arriving from all countries for 2017. Our guess is that 150 to 500 (10% to 33%) will be of Syrian origin.


The following table compares the announced targets of the Canadian government for 2017 for new refugees and “protected persons in Canada and dependents abroad“, with our guesses as to the number of Syrian refugees to be admitted during 2017, combined with the 2016 year-end/start of 2017 balance. (A “protected person in Canada” is someone who has arrived in Canada, made a claim for protection and, following a hearing at the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, been granted that status and the right to stay.)




Syrian refugees resettled Nov/15 to Jan 2/171 2017 targets – all countries 2017 Syrian refugees (our est.)
Syrian refugees resettled Nov/15 to Jan 2/171 39,671
Privately-Sponsored 2016 year-end Syrian “inventory” 7,000 7,000
Privately-Sponsored from ‘backlog’ of applications as of 2016 year-end 9,000  1,000 to 3,000?
Sub-total: Privately-Sponsored Refugees 16,000  8,000 to 10,000?
Government-Assisted Refugees 7,500  800 to 2,500?
BVOR Refugees 1,500  150 to 500?
Sub-total: Resettled refugees 25,000  8,950 to 13,000?
“Protected Persons in Canada and Dependents Abroad” 15,000  —
Sub-total of estimated resettled refugees and Protected Persons in Canada and Descendants Abroad, settled in 2017 40,000  8,950 to 13,000?
Est. total of Syrian refugees in Canada “Protected Persons in Canada and Dependents Abroad” (Nov/15 through Dec/17)  48,621 to 52,671


The estimates in the above table are simply our guesses, in the absence of more specific government information. While we are showing an estimated 8,950 to 13,000 more Syrian refugees from Syria being settled in Canada in 2017, the minimum number would be the 7,000 who were in ‘inventory’, as of 2016 year-end, which would bring the cumulative total of Syrian refugees to over 46,600. We welcome any suggestions and corrections regarding our estimates that may be offered.



Protected Persons target for 2017

For 2017, the Canadian Government is targeting to admit at total of 40,000 refugees and “protected persons in Canada and descendants abroad” from across the world, down 28% from the total of 55,800 resettled in 2016.  We are assuming that no significant number of these persons will be Syrian.



Increasing ratio of Syrian PSRs to Syrian GARs

In terms of classification of refugee, of those Syrians who had arrived between November, 2015 and January 29, 2017, as reported on the Government of Canada website, only 36% nation-wide (14,274 out of 40,081), had been privately sponsored. According to the government’s target for refugees settling in Canada from all countries in 2017, 65% (16,000 out of 25,000) will be PSRs. Given that there will be 7,000 refugees admitted from the 2016 ‘inventory’ from Syria alone and that the target for Government-Assisted Refugees from all countries is only 7,500 in 2017, the percentage of privately-sponsored Syrian refugees across the country among those who have arrived since November, 2015, will increase significantly.