Syrian Refugee Sponsorship — What’s the Sponsorship Process
At the beginning of September the Brethren In Christ (BIC) body of churches put a call out to its churches expressing the need for sponsorship groups. Following this call, the pastor of my church spoke to the congregation asking if we thought this is something our church congregation would be interested in doing. He asked for a group of volunteers that would be willing to donate their time and money to this cause. At least 12 people would need to join this committee to make it work, without that minimum, itwouldn’t be possible.
I remember sitting in the congregation that Sunday and thinking, “finally, this is it, this is how I can help” (check out my last article for more info).
Since January we have seen three quarters of a million refugees fleeing to Europe, many of them Syrian people, fleeing…medium.com
On Thursday October 29th, we had our first meeting and 25 people attended, far exceeding expectations. It appears that I wasn’t the only one feeling the pull to help!
We’ve heard a lot of talk about refugee sponsorship from our government over the last few months. The liberals have promised to bring 25,000 before the end of February 2016 which is a huge undertaking.
People don’t seem to really understand what refugee sponsorship is and what the different types are. There is a lot of confusion between what privately sponsored refugees are compared to the shared government sponsorship.
Mennonite Central Committee (MCC), is a world renowned agency known for their crisis relief, and I think it would be easy to say that they are feeling the push more than anyone right now to get families out of the dangers they are facing and into Canada where they can feel safe. MCC has the authority which has been bestowed on them by the Canadian government to facilitate the process of sponsorship (Sponsorship Agreement Holders).
There are two types of sponsorships: Private Sponsorship or Blended Visa Office Referred Sponsorship (BVOR)
Private is fairly straight forward. A group is 100% responsible to bring a person or family to Canada. The group is responsible to find the refugee(s) that are needing resettlement, these refugees then start the application with the United Nations Human Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), where it will await approval. Once approved, the family can then relocate to Canada. This process can take months to years.
BVOR sponsorship is a shared venture with the the Canadian government. It is called blended because it is a cost sharing arrangement between the ministry of Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship and Sponsorship Agreement Holders (MCC). The UNHCR is currently in the process of selecting which refugees will be given the choice to come to Canada. The families are chosen based on specific criteria that the Canadian government and the UNHCR has set out ahead of time. Families that have made it to Turkey, Lebanon, or another intake country go through both security and health screening. Once they have gone through this process, their files are sent to Immigration Canada where they are again screened by Canadian officials prior to receiving approval to come to Canada. Once they have been approved, the family waits for a corresponding group in Canada to make an application. The sponsorship team and the family are eventually matched at which point the family comes to Canada.
So whats the sponsorship teams job?
The sponsorship team is responsible for everything with regards to resettlement. The shared government aid comes in the form of partial financial assistance for the family for 6 months and, when they arrive, they are automatically covered with Interim Federal Health and provincial health care.
The financial support from the government is a bit deceiving though, they only provide a specific amount, preset, based on the size of the family. This money is only received by the family after their 2nd month in Canada. This means that the sponsoring team (us), need to raise enough money for the first 2 months right away.
The government provides a preset amount of money that will go towards paying for accommodations. In other words, the government pays for 6 months of rent. The preset amount for a family of four is $750/month.
We are working very hard to raise funds quickly as we need enough to cover their rent, furnish their apartment, make sure they have appropriate clothing (because heaven knows they aren’t prepared for our winters), and provide them with food.
If you are interested in helping us financially, please visit our fundraising website by clicking here: YouCaring
If you liked what you read, please recommend my article.