Group of Five – Sponsorship for Refugees
A ‘Group of Five’ is a type of private refugee sponsoring program. Under the Group of Five, five Canadian citizens or permanent residents get together to sponsor a refugee and their dependents to Canada.
To be eligible as a refugee or refugee family for this sponsorship program, the person(s) must have left their country of origin, meet the refugee definition, must be able to settle in Canada. There is a requirement for documentation, proving refugee status, to be granted from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) or from the state where they are currently living. Since September 19th, 2015, Canada has temporarily exempted Iraqis and Syrians from the requirement to show documentation of their status.
More than five people can be involved in the group, however five members are responsible for the required forms, and minimum three members are responsible for the financial aspect of the sponsorship. These individuals must understand that they will be responsible for the refugee family and their costs of living for up to 12 months once they arrive toCanada or until the sponsored refugees become self-sufficient. Under this sponsorship program, the group commits to supporting the sponsored refugee(s) emotionally, financially, and with settlement support for the duration of the sponsorship period.
Potential sponsors must meet the eligibility criteria in order to be considered as a member of a Group of Five, which includes: They must be a Canadian Citizen or Permanent Resident, they must be 18 years of age or older, have no criminal record, financial means and resides in the community where the refugee will settle. If an individual applies to be a member, they cannot be subject to any removal order, in default of any court-ordered payments, or have been convicted of a serious offense either in or outside of Canada.
Sponsors are assessed to ensure they have the financial means to support a refugee for the 12 months during the sponsorship. They must submit T4 forms and all other proof of income they can, to ensure acceptance for the program. Sponsors must also meet the scale of the requirement for financial backing. For example, a family of four requires a minimum of $25,000.00CAD or more. Sponsors must also have a detailed plan for the settled family, including where the money will be distributed, educational programs and schools for children, clothing, food and start-up costs.
Once an application is received and assessed by a Canadian visa officer, an interview may take place. During this interview, the officer judges the eligibility of the applicant and their family and compares with the information provided on the original forms. This interview is the determining factor if the application is approved or denied.
Typically, if the applicant and their family are approved, they will be informed at the end of the interview, then scheduled for security and medical screening. If all the conditions for acceptance are met, the Citizenship and Immigration Canada will issue visas for the refugee and their family.
Finally, upon arriving in Canada, the refugees become permanent residents. The sponsors are responsible for meeting the new family at the airport, transportation and helping them find a place to live. Sponsors are also responsible for assisting the children into school, teaching the family their new community, obtaining IDs and managing all the other basics of their new life in Canada.