Frequently Asked Questions


Government-assisted refugees (GARs) are those supported directly by the Government of Canada for the duration of their sponsorship. Canada  funds organizations as part of the Resettlement Assistance Program (RAP) to provide immediate and essential support services to refugees on their arrival in Canada to help them settle and integrate into life in Canada.

Blended Visa Office-Referred (BVOR) program refugees are referred directly by the UNHCR. The Government of Canada and the Private Sponsors share the financial support and private sponsors provide up to a year of social and emotional support. Refugees are also covered under the Interim Federal Health (IFH) Program for the duration of the sponsorship, in addition to provincial health coverage.

With Privately Sponsored Refugees, sponsors provide financial and emotional support for the refugees for the duration of the sponsorship. This includes help for housing, clothing and food.

In the Joint Assistance Sponsorship (JAS) program, the Government of Canada sometimes partners with organizations to resettle refugees with special needs who may need more support than other refugees in order to settle into Canada. These special needs may arise due to:

  • trauma from violence or torture,
  • medical disabilities,
  • the effects of systemic discrimination, or
  • a large number of family members.

Fore more information, you can read this article from Welcome Ontario about the different streams to be a private sponsor.

Refugee sponsorship programs: 

  • Blended Visa Office Referred (BVOR)
  • Government Assisted Refugees (GARs)
  • Joint Assistance Sponsorship (JAS)
  • Private Sponsorship of Refugees (PSR)
  • Sponsorship Agreement Holders (SAH)
  • Group of Five (G5)
  • Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA)

Governmental agencies:

  • Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA)
  • Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS)
  • Global Affairs Canada (GAC)
  • Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC)
  • Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB)

International organizations: 

  • International Organization for Migration (IOM)
  • United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)

Canadian organizations: 

  • Canadian Centre for Victims of Torture (CCVT)
  • Canadian Council for Refugees (CCR)
  • Refugee Sponsorship Training Program (RSTP)

Administrative processes: 

  • Canada Child Benefit (CCB)
  • Interim Federal Health Program (IFHP)
  • Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP)
  • Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP)
  • Ontario Works (OW)
  • Permanent Resident Card (PR card)

Daily life: 

  • Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada (LINC)
  • English as a Second Language (ESL)
  • French as a Second Language (FSL)
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

When resettled refugees arrive in Canada, an officer from the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) meets them. The CBSA secures the borders and ports of entry to Canada.

They must have a valid travel document (for example, a passport or a travel document issued by the Government of Canada). They must also have a Canadian permanent resident visa with them. The officer will ask to see their passport from their home country, if they have one, and other travel documents. The officer will make sure that their permanent resident visa is still valid. The expiry date is shown on the visa. It cannot be used after it expires. The government of Canada cannot extend permanent resident visas. 

The officer will give the refugees their Confirmation of Permanent Residence (COPR). They must sign their COPR.

The officer will ask them a few questions. The questions will be similar to the ones on their Application for Permanent Residence in Canada. The officer will confirm that they are eligible to enter Canada.

The officer may not allow them to enter Canada if they give false or incomplete information at the point of entry, or if they do not satisfy the officer that they are eligible to enter Canada.

If there are no problems at the port of entry, the officer will authorize them to enter Canada as a permanent resident. Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC)will mail their permanent resident card to your new address in Canada.

Refugees should make sure that the Canadian address on their COPR card is correct because IRCC will send your permanent resident card to that address. If they plan to change your address in the future, or if they do not have a permanent address yet, they should give the correct address as soon as possible.

After they have been admitted to Canada, someone from a settlement organization or sponsorship group will meet them at the airport. They will bring the resettled refugees to a place where they will stay for the first few days. They will also help them to find a permanent place to live.

During Covid-19 pandemic : 

Please check the travelling rules and restrictions currently in place in Canada and follow Ontario Public Health measures and restrictions

Keep in mind that for sponsored refugees arriving in Canada, will be covered by the government of Canada.

For more information, please read First month of resettlement during Covid-19: What to expect?, an article from Welcome Ontario. 

You can find information on short-term accommodation options in the short-term housing article on Settlement.Org.

Another option if you have funds available would be Airbnb and similar services for interim housing.

Yes. After completing the border services process upon arrival at a Canadian Port of Entry, the refugees will be permanent residents of Canada. They will receive their Permanent Resident Card by mail. 

Yes, convention refugees and protected persons are exempt from the standard 3 month waiting period for OHIP

For information about the Ontario Health Card and how to apply for it, you can read this factsheet from ServiceOntario.

OHIP+ provides more than 5,000 drug products at no cost for anyone age 24 years or younger who is not already covered by a private plan. Enrollment is automatic, the youth or their caregiver can bring their a current health card number and an eligible prescription to the pharmacy to be filled. Perscriptions covered under OHIP+ will not have a co-pay or deductible.

This program covers medications used to treat:

  • asthma
  • depression
  • anxiety
  • attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • infections (e.g. antibiotics)
  • epilepsy
  • diabetes (including test strips)
  • reproductive health (e.g. oral contraceptives)
  • some childhood cancers and rare diseases
  • those wanting to quit smoking
  • and much more

Medications available through the Exceptional Access Program may also be covered if an individual qualifies.

If you have questions about what prescription are covered, you can also speak to your local pharmacy

The short answer is both; sponsored refugees will have coverage under both programs. In general, resettled refugees are eligible for the same health coverage from the province or territory of residence upon arrival in Canada as every new permanent resident.

Interim Federal Health Program (IFHP)  is for resettled refugees, protected persons, refugee claimants, and victims of human trafficking. People detained by the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) are also covered. 

For refugees chosen to resettle in Canada, the IFHP will cover some pre-departure medical services. This can include:

According to the IRCC website, basic coverage is provided only until the refugee qualifies for provincial or territorial health insurance. Supplemental and prescription drug coverage is provided as long as they receive income support from the Resettlement Assistance Program (RAP), or until the refugee is no longer under private sponsorship.

Once they receive health insurance from the province or territory that they settle in, the IFHP will continue to provide coverage for supplemental services, like dental and vision care, and prescription drugs for up to one year.

For information about the Ontario Health Insurance Program (OHIP), the OHIP Card and how to apply for it, you can read this section from Settlement.Org.

In general, yes, all refugees can access settlement services. Some specific programs have eligibility requirements, so you may want to ask a settlement worker about any eligibility requirements.

To learn more about settlement services, you can read "How can I find settlement services?".

There are many different types of Adult English as a Second Language (ESL) programs in Ontario. Newcomers can take English classes through their local school board or settlement agency. A settlement worker can help you find the right class.

You can find more information about ESL for adults on Settlement.org.

Elementary and high schools in Ontario will assess children to find out what their language-learning needs are and to place them in the right grade.

Some Ontario school boards have newcomer reception or assessment centres.

English Literacy Development (ELD) courses can help children read and write in English. ELD courses count towards their high school diploma.

Among other items, sponsors are responsible for providing refugees with financial and non-financial support during the sponsorship period (usually 12 months starting from the refugee's arrival in Canada). Their Sponsorship Agreement defines their moral, financial and legal responsibilities. 

Sponsors should help the refugee(s) in their integration within the Canadian society. Social support can include :

  • locating interpreters
  • selecting a family physician and dentist
  • assisting with applying for provincial health-care coverage
  • enrolling children in school and adults in language training
  • introducing newcomers to people with similar personal interests
  • providing orientation with regard to everyday activities such as banking services, transportation
  • helping in the search for employment
  • helping understand the rights and responsibilities of permanent residents

To find a detailed list of the requirements, visit the Refugee Sponsorship Training Program’s Post-arrival duties webpage.

Sponsored refugees are covered by the Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) and are eligible for the Interim Federal Health Program (IFHP). In addition, they may be eligible for many other benefits including:

Sponsored refugees are not eligible for Ontario Works benefits or subsidized housing during the period of sponsorship.

You can contact settlement services to learn more about benefits and to receive help for filling forms or applications. 

You can find links to many important forms on Settlement.Org.You can also look on Service Canada and Service Ontario for a list of all programs, benefits, services and their forms.

A selection of Resources in Arabic can be found on this page. It will be updated regularly with Arabic content important for newly arriving refugees and their sponsors/supporters. Translated information is also available in Arabic on Settlement.Org. Some community groups may also have information in Arabic.

Some community agencies and private businesses offer interpretation services. Contact 2-1-1 Ontario to find an interpretation service in your area. You can also contact the Association of Translators and Interpreters of Ontario (ATIO). Unless you are able to find a volunteer, most trained interpreters charge fees.

Make sure that the interpreter that you choose if respectful of refugees and understands the importance of sensitivity and confidentiality. You may also want to consider how gender and ethnic background could affect the comfort level of refugees.

Depending on the type of document, a professional or certified translator may be needed. You can find a translator in the yellow pages, through a community agency or through the Association of Translators and Interpreters of Ontario. For more information on this topic see the How do I get my documents translated? article from Settlement.org.

A place of worship can be an important source of support for newcomers. For example, they can find out where to find food that meets their religious dietary needs, stay connected to their your culture and traditions and develop a social support system.

You can find a place of worship by:

Contacting a settlement agency.

Finding meaningful employment can be difficult for many newcomers. For refugees new to Canada this can be especially challenging, they may have added barriers of language, literacy and trauma-related mental health struggles. Many settlement agencies offer language programs and others specialize in supporting job-seekers who are new to Canada. You can find an agency in your community through Settlement.Org’s Services Near Me community services mapping tool.

There are social assistance programs available that newcomers may be eligible for such as Employment Insurance, Ontario Works and the Ontario Disability Support Program. To find out about eligiblity and application information, visit Settlement.Org, the Service Canada website or the ServiceOntario website.

Depending on where you are in Ontario, it can be difficult to find adequately sized housing. In addition to this, some people might try to take advantage of newcomers as they search for housing. Some landlords may illegally ask for extra fees, a year's rent upfront or illegal deposits. Some landlords do not accept applicants who are retired or receiving Ontario Works or other types of social assistance; this is against the law. To learn about Tenants’ rights, see the Tenant Rights and Responsibilities of Settlement.Org or contact the Landlord and Tenant Board (LTB).

Refugees (both Government-Assisted and Privately Sponsored) can apply to sponsor immediate family members under the One Year Window opportunity provision. This program is for refugees who have been in Canada for less than a year. They might sponsor a spouse or common-law partner, dependent children, and children of dependent children, under certain circumstances. Family members identified under this program will be considered as dependants of the principle application.  

Under the Sponsorship agreement, the sponsor group is also responsible for the costs of supporting family members who have come to Canada through this program. More information is available from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada website.

For information on other sponsorship programs, visit Settlement.Org or the webpage about family sponsorship from the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) website.

If the refugee(s) you are sponsoring have experienced intimidation, been harassed or attacked, contact your local police immediately. If they have been discriminated against in one of the areas protected by the Ontario Human Rights Code, you can contact the Human Rights Legal Support Centre for help filing a claim with the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario.

To check if a charity if legitimate, you can look them up on the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) Charities Listings webpage. All charities that are registered are listed on this site along with their registered charity number. You can also call the Canada Revenue Agency toll free at 1-877-442-2899.

It is a good idea to research the charity you donate to and to ask for a tax receipt.

Scams and cybercrimes can happen to anyone, anywhere, at any time. Fake fundraisers can contact you through the mail, email, telephone, or by knocking on your door. They often claim to represent a charitable organization or give a name that may have a similar name to a legitimate charity. To report a scam contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre and file a report with your local police.

To be tax-deductible, a donation shall not be restricted to supporting a particular refugee person or family. Therefore, the money you’re spending as a private sponsor for the refugee or family you support cannot be tax-deductible. 

Within the context of the Private Sponsorship of Refugees Program, money given to a charity in support of its private refugee sponsorship program is eligible for a tax receipt if certain criteria apply. 

You can read more about what is considered a gift for tax purposes in this information brochure from the Refugee Sponsorship Training Program. Again, to be tax-deductible, a gift cannot be directed to a specific person, family or other named beneficiary.

As Permanent Residents (PRs), sponsored refugees have mobility rights within Canada. Sometimes sponsored refugees decide to move to a more affordable area, or to be closer to friends or family that have arrived. This can create some challenges if sponsored refugees want to live in a part of Canada that is far from where the sponsors live; they will not be able to provide as much in-person support. Sponsorship groups will need to assess if they are able to continue to support the sponsored family. Ultimately, the sponsor group is responsible for supporting the refugee(s) no matter where they decide to live in Canada.

The Private Sponsorship of Refugees Program is a program that aims to resettle refugees. 

To be eligible to sponsorship programs, refugees must : 

  • Be outside of Canada
  • Meet the definition of Convention Refugee Abroad Class or Country of Asylum Class, according to the Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Protection Act
  • Hold a refugee status document valid for sponsorship by Groups of 5 or Community Sponsors

Therefore, it is not possible to sponsor a person who is already in Canada, no matter their status. 

A person who is already in Canada and in need of protection can make a claim for refugee protection to the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB). They may be eligible to receive legal aid.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) organizes pre-arrival services and travel to Canada. Travel costs are covered by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) under the Immigration Loans Program (ILP), more specifically through the Transportation Loan. It means that IRCC will pay the costs directly to the IOM, but the money will be considered a loan which will need to be repaid by the loan recipient after their arrival to Canada.

Resettled refugees must start repaying the loan on the 12th month after the loan was issued. IRCC will notify the recipient of their minimum monthly payment required. They can choose to start paying earlier and more than the minimum if they wish. The duration of the repayment period depends on the amount of the loan. IRCC does not charge interest.

Sponsors are not responsible for repayment  of the Transportation Loan.

Sponsors have made a commitment to provide sponsored refugees with financial support for one year after they arrive in Canada or until they can support themselves, whichever comes first.

There may be times when sponsored refugees come to Canada with a certain amount of money of their own. If they have enough money and are able to support themselves, sponsors may expect them to contribute to their own settlement costs. 

Many sponsored refugees want to start earning money during the sponsorship period. When their level of total earned household income has surpassed 50% of their household’s level of financial support, deductions are permitted for every dollar earned above that threshold. Once the monthly support is reduced to zero dollars (i.e. after earnings have reached 150% of their household’s financial support level) and  the household can sustainably  support themselves, they may no longer require the sponsor’s financial support. 

At any time during the sponsorship commitment period, if the financial situation of the household changes, the sponsor must resume financial support, as needed. 

For more information :

Settlement services are available for newcomers to Canada. These services are often free. They are always confidential. They can include :

  • Interpretation and translation of documents, or help to arrange these services
  • Help filling out forms and applications
  • English classes (ESL or LINC)
  • Help finding a job or training
  • Information about other community services, schools and health care, etc.

To find settlement services, you can : 

211 is a free and confidential service. You can contact them to find programs and services in your community.

Settlement services are also often available in schools and libraries.

Yes. Since French is one of Canada's two official languages, students in Ontario's publicly funded English-language schools are required to study FSL from Grades 4 to 8.

FSL programs are for all students in English-language boards, including students with special needs and English language learners. 

For more information, please read this webpage from the official website of the Ontario government.

Yes. As permanent residents, resettled refugees can obtain a Social Insurance Number (SIN). They need to apply for it, which can be done either online, by mail or in person at a Service Canada Centre. Learn more about the different ways to get a SIN

A SIN is required to work in Canada and to have access to government programs and benefits.