What Happens When A Sponsorship Breaks Down?

A sponsorship breakdown happens when sponsors are unable or unwilling to give further support to the sponsored family prior to the end of the sponsorship period (usually the first 12 months  that the family is in Canada). It is an official declaration that an irremediable failure to meet the sponsorship arrangement has occurred. The responsibility for a sponsorship breakdown may either rest with the refugees or the sponsor. 

Sometimes some sponsorship breakdowns may arise due to the refugee having solid reasons to move away from the community where the sponsors are located. In some cases, it might also be due to a disagreement which might have come up during the sponsorship period. Things might have escalated and led to the end of the relationship between the sponsoring group and the sponsored people. Most of the times, this is due to a miscommunication which might be a result of cultural differences, expectations gap, misunderstanding, and stress. 

When a situation emerges that may lead to a sponsorship breakdown, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), the sponsoring group (including the Sponsorship Agreement Holders if a Constituent Group is involved) and the refugees will try to settle the issue and attempt to steer clear of a sponsorship breakdown. It is the sponsoring group’s own benefit to involve IRCC when a falling-out happens, as the  Department can intervene and help with mediation or other resolution methods. They have to reach out to IRCC by contacting the Resettlement Services Assurance Team (RSAT).

Once the RSAT is notified, they will evaluate the seriousness of the situation and decide whether IRCC involvement is necessary. They may request that the  sponsors try to fix the issue on their own. If they are unable to come up with a solution, the IRCC will proceed to establish responsibility. A RSAT officer will facilitate a meeting with all parties concerned. The discussion will also address the current needs of the refugee for the rest of the sponsorship period and the ability of the sponsor to support the refugee under the new circumstances. 

During that process, the officer will gather information on how much financial assistance and settlement support is being given. If they finds that the refugee needs immediate financial support, they may provide emergency funds or refer the refugee to social assistance. The sponsoring group on the other hand has to keep on carrying out their sponsorship responsibilities throughout the duration of the conflict until the sponsorship breakdown is officially declared by IRCC. If the sponsored refugee has moved to a new community, the SAH may be responsible for finding a new sponsoring group willing to take on the sponsorship there in order to avoid default.

If the sponsor is found to be at fault, they will have to continue supporting the refugee in the new community. They might under certain circumstances be liable for reimbursing any funds  in income support issued to refugees during the group’s sponsorship period. Moreover, they will also be banned from sponsorship until they meet all the regulatory requirements. IRCC will also monitor the sponsoring group’s current sponsorships in Canada that are still within the one year sponsorship period to make sure that the financial and settlement support are being provided. For SAHs, their sponsorship agreement may suffer and may be placed under probation status, be suspended, or cancelled. 

If on the contrary the sponsoring group is absolved of any blame, they are released from all further obligations. It is to be noted that unless IRCC  issues a formal notice of sponsorship breakdown (which consequently cancels the sponsorship agreement), sponsored refugees cannot get income support through provincial or municipal assistance program or the Resettlement Assistance Program during the sponsorship period (12 months).