The Refugee Sponsorship Program is a humanitarian service that assists persons fleeing from persecution and violence in their home countries. It aims to minister to marginalized families as they resettle in a new country with a culture that is different from theirs. Refugee sponsorship entails a 12 month commitment in which the pastor, parishioners who set up a settlement committee and in some cases family members who work together to set up a home, offer financial support to meet the basic costs of living and provide care and support to help refugees and their families adjust to life and establish themselves in Canada.

Our Work with RefugeesInfographics-Maps

Our Archdiocese is one of about a hundred private sponsor groups across Canada.  Assisting refugee settlement in our country has always been a part of our archdiocesan ministries.  Over the centuries, our parishioners are comprised of people who had fled wars, oppressive regimes, persecution for the practice of our Christian faith, ethnic cleansings.  In more recent history following the 1951 United Nations Convention for Refugees, the larger groups we have assisted and integrated were the Vietnamese, Ugandan Asians, Iranians, Bosnians, Kosovars, to name a few.

Since the signing of our agreement with the federal government as a Sponsorship Agreement Holder, we began to officially undertake the private sponsorship of refugees within the scope of the program.  Our efforts to record our refugee movements started in 2007, and to date 41 parishes have welcomed more than 1,800 refugees. Refugee families arrived from a vast number of locations including Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Burma and Tibet.

One notable year was in 2013 when we welcomed 550 people! Moreover, we have extended our sponsorship agreement to Whitehorse, Prince George, Kamloops and Victoria to enable them to sponsor using our agreement.

For many years, parishes in the Archdiocese of Vancouver have supported refugees often in conjunction with family members already settled in Canada. The Refugee Sponsorship Program provides support to the parish sponsoring committees by assisting them with the extensive application paper work and providing advice on what is needed for successful sponsoring including the preparation for arrival and post settlement of each refugee.


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PROGRAM GUIDELINES: Sponsoring a Refugee

Check out the Citizenship and Immigration Canada website here for all information regarding the Refugee Sponsorship Program.

Frequently Asked Questions:

1. Who may be sponsored in this program?
2. Can a refugee lose refugee status?
3. Can people who are still in their home country be sponsored?
4. Who can sponsor a refugee?
5. What role does the Refugee Sponsorship Program play in the resettlement program?
6. If I initiate a sponsorship for a refugee, what are my responsibilities?
7. Where do I go to initiate a refugee sponsorship through the Archdiocese of Vancouver?

1. Who may be sponsored in this program?
A refugee as defined by the 1951 Geneva Convention may be sponsored in this program. This is defined as someone who fears persecution due to their race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular group and has left their home country because they face torture, risk to life, or risk of cruel and unusual treatment or punishment.

2. Can a refugee lose refugee status?
A refugee is no longer considered qualified if

  • they re-gain protection from their home country;
  • they settle in a new country and find protection there;
  • they return to their home country;
  • they are no longer in danger of persecution.

3. Can people who are still in their home country be sponsored?
No. People who still reside in their home country are not considered refugees, even if they have been driven out of their home or town. Relocating solely for the purposes of resettlement may cause one to be excluded from the program.

4. Who can sponsor a refugee?
There are several options for private sponsorship. Group of Five (G5): at least five Canadian citizens or permanent residents can initiate refugee sponsorship if they fulfill the criteria. Community Organization: incorporated or unincorporated organizations, associations or businesses based in the community where refugees are expected to settle. Sponsorship Agreement Holder (SAH): there are 85 different faith related and ethnic organizations that have sponsorship agreements with the Government of Canada (CIC). The Service and Justice Office represents the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Vancouver – with their Constituent Groups (CGs): parishes, convents, religious institutions.

5. What role does the Refugee Sponsorship Program play in the resettlement program?
The RCAV Refugee Sponsorship Program administers the agreement between the Archdiocese (RCAV) and Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC), by acting as a conduit between the sponsoring parishes and the government and assesses cases and processes applications.

6. If I initiate a sponsorship for a refugee, what are my responsibilities?
Sponsoring a refugee will require that you:

Complete a detailed settlement plan: Work together with the sponsoring parish to outline the settlement arrangements for the sponsored refugee. This details how and who will help the refugee complete government requirements, find suitable housing, learn English, get a job, open a bank account, register the children for school, etc…

Provide basic financial support:  Ensure that the refugees are equipped with clothing, food and lodging. From the time the sponsorship is approved, the sponsor prepares by raising funds to cover these needs. Actual care for the resettled refugee begins from the time they arrive at the airport until the end of the sponsorship period, which is usually one year.

Sponsors will work in tandem with the Refugee Sponsorship Program: During the application process and throughout the one year sponsorship period, the sponsoring relative will be in constant communication with the Refugee Sponsorship Program through the parish, to ensure that the best possible assistance is provided for the refugee.

7. Where do I go to initiate a refugee sponsorship through the Archdiocese of Vancouver?
The RCAV Refugee Sponsorship Program can only facilitate resettlement done by the sponsoring relative in conjunction with Catholic institutions, parishes or religious orders. The Refugee Sponsorship Program can process your application initiated through these institutions and can help you complete it.


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Newly arrived refugees with their sponsoring Parishes, Canadian Martyrs Catholic Church, Richmond (Left) and Saint Patrick’s Parish, Maple Ridge (Right).

Parish Settlement Teams

St. Anthony (West Vancouver)

St. Augustine (Vancouver)

St. Bernadette (Surrey)

St. Clare of Assisi (Coquitlam)

St. Francis de Sales (Burnaby)

St. George Melkite Mission (Burnaby)

St. Helen (Burnaby)

St. James (Abbotsford)

St. John the Apostle (Vancouver)

St. Joseph (Langley)

St. Joseph the Worker (Richmond)

St. Luke (Maple Ridge)

St. Mark (Vancouver)

St. Mary (Chilliwack)

St. Mary (Vancouver)

St. Matthew (Surrey)

St. Michael (Burnaby)

St. Patrick (Maple Ridge)

St. Patrick (Vancouver)

St. Paul (Richmond)

St. Paul (North Vancouver)

St. Peter (New Westminster)

Star of the Sea (White Rock)

Sts. Peter & Paul Chaldean Catholic Mission (Surrey)


 About the Refugee Sponsorship Program | Resources for Refugees
Refugee Sponsorship Program: Getting Involved | Refugee Sponsorship Program: News & Events

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