Resolutions on private sponsorship of refugees
- For refugees from countries such as Syria and Afghanistan, and urban refugees in many countries, there is no possibility of receiving timely or any refugee status determination by UNHCR or a host country.
- The requirement of host country or UNHCR recognition as refugees in order to be considered as eligible for sponsorship by a Group of 5 or by a Community Sponsor is a de facto limit on the Private Sponsorship of Refugees program that discriminates against refugees who do not have timely or any access to status determination.
- The CCR has adopted many resolutions over the years in support of non-discrimination in access to refugee resettlement and of family reunification.
that the CCR call upon the government to remove the requirement of refugee status determination for G-5 and Community Sponsors.
- The Canadian people through their faith and ethnocultural organizations wish to welcome and protect refugees;
- The Private Sponsorship of Refugees Program allows Canadians to welcome and protect refugees;
that the CCR:
- Reaffirm our support of the Private Sponsorship of Refugees Program to allow Canadians to protect and welcome refugees;
- Oppose any government limit or ceilings on the PSR program.
- There have been long-standing difficulties in obtaining exit permits from Turkey for privately sponsored refugees.
- CIC has decided unilaterally to close all current private sponsorship files, including cases which have already been accepted by the visa post to come to Canada.
- The Sponsorship Agreement states that the Private Sponsorship of Refugees Program “is a symbiotic partnership between SAHs and CIC wherein each relies on the other to fulfill their responsibilities in order for the program to succeed” and “the partnership … provides a framework where SAHs may collaborate with CIC to respond to special measures … and emergency situations” (Principles b and g).
That the CCR:
- Urge CIC to keep all current private sponsorship files in Turkey open until all avenues have been pursued and until such time as an agreement can be reached with the SAH representatives, and to lift the ban on new undertakings, pending a solution(s) to the exit permit issues.
- Urge the government of Canada to continue working with the Multilateral Technical Committee to find a solution(s) to the current and future Turkish exit permit issues.
- Urge CIC to respect the terms of the SAH agreement (Principles b and g) and work in full collaboration with elected SAH representatives in further negotiations.
- Urge UNHCR to take proactive steps to assist in facilitating the departure from Turkey of persons accepted by the Canadian visa post.
- CCR is celebrating 25 years of private sponsorship in Canada;
- Canada's resettlement targets, including for private sponsorship, have largely remained unchanged for the past 10 years, even though overall immigration targets have increased;
- An increase in overall resettlement targets reflects a commitment to refugee resettlement and may lead to an increase in resource allocation to resettlement processing.
- CCR has consistently maintained the three principles of private sponsorship; partnership, additionality and naming;
That the CCR:
- Urge the Canadian Government to set resettlement targets at a minimum of 8% of overall immigration targets, while respecting the private sponsorship principle of additionality;
- Work together with the SAH representatives to the NGO-Government Committee on the Private Sponsorship of Refugees to negotiate annual private sponsorship targets with CIC.
- The Government, in the context of private refugee sponsorship, claims to be committed to the principle of additionality;
- Visa post staffing was drastically cut in the mid 90s;
- The overseas processing time for refugees is disgracefully long. (Departmental informants tell us that currently, from the time the completed IMM8s are received at the visa post until the interview takes place is 21 months in Nairobi and 36 months in Damascus.)
- The overseas delays make it increasingly difficult to sustain the interest of sponsors in the private sponsorship program;
- The Government is committed to move toward annual immigration targets of 1% of the population of Canada;
That the CCR repeatedly challenge the Government, the Minister and senior government officials directly, and through the media, to increase visa post staffing so refugees can be processed expeditiously and in greater numbers.
- In Canada, CIC has engaged a process of revitalizing the private sponsorship of refugees program;
- CIC has consistently informed Sponsorship Agreement Holders that there are limited resources for processing applications overseas;
- Currently there are applications for over 10,000 individuals and only 2,900 will be processed in this year;
- CIC has also given the message that the backlog of private sponsorship applications are due to a high number of cases which do not fit eligibility criteria;
That the CCR write to the Director General of the International Region to request a statistical breakdown for the years 2000, 2001 and 2002 and annually thereafter of total private sponsorship undertakings submitted by post by year and total private sponsorship undertakings refused by post by year, and to separate applications and refusals by Groups of Five and Sponsorship Agreement Holder undertakings in order to better understand and address the causes of this backlog.
delays cause anxiety and instability for refugees and their families;
That the CCR contact the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration and urge that CIC be resourced to supply sufficient support staff to provide for expeditious processing of family reunification, private sponsorships and other matters that require avoidance of delays and backlogs which cause pain and anxiety to refugees.
- Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) has expressed; a desire for a coordinated continuum in the refugee sponsorship process;
- CIC has issued a tender for proposal for an In-Canada Service Provider (ISP), the latest with a closing date of May 29, 2001;
- The ISP tender should have been posted for the public after budget was secured;
- The RSTP was extended to June 30, 2001 to facilitate transition to the ISP;
- There is another indefinite delay in the July 1, 2001 starting date for the ISP;
- There is a significant increase in new Sponsorship Agreement Holders (SAH) to whom RSTP/ISP would be indispensable in order for them to carry out their work effectively;
- The training and resources developed by the RSTP have enhanced SAHs effectiveness in refugee sponsorship;
- There will be a significant gap with the dissolution of the RSTP on June 30, 2001, which will result in the loss of infrastructure and knowledgeable staff;
That the CCR request CIC to continue funding the RSTP until such time as an ISP, based on the model developed between CIC and SAHs on February 5-6, 2001, is established.
- Some countries interpret the Refugee Convention in a narrow and technical manner denying effective protection to refugees;
- Canadian visa officers sometimes show too much deference to the decisions of tribunals of other countries which have refused refugee claims which under the Canadian interpretation of the Convention would be accepted;
- Canada's visa offices are inconsistent in their efforts to establish meaningful channels of communication with local and Canadian NGOs involved in resettlement;
- Canada has failed to put in place meaningful review of negative decisions despite a refusal rate significantly higher than other resettlement countries;
- Applicants for resettlement from some countries are deported from those countries despite having applications for resettlement to Canada pending, particularly in light of the frequent long processing times for such applications;
That the CCR:
- Call on the appropriate departments of the Government of Canada to:
a)remind visa offices of the often broader interpretation of the Refugee Convention in Canadian law than that demonstrated by some other countries, particularly with respect to the absence of a requirement for persecution to be at the hands of the state;
b)ensure that in cases where the applicant does not meet the Convention definition but has a private sponsorship that the relatively broader provisions of the Asylum Class are thoroughly considered;
c)strengthen and regularize consultation between visa offices and local and Canadian NGOs involved in resettlement;
d)establish and implement a meaningful review of negative decisions on resettlement cases similar to that recently adopted by US INS;
- Call on the Government of Canada to play a prominent role in convincing other governments to interpret the Convention in a broad manner;
- Ask the Government of Canada to urge other governments to allow applicants for resettlement in Canada to remain in their countries of asylum pending determination of their applications by Canada.
- The Sponsorship Agreement notes as Principle #3 the ability of the Sponsorship Agreement Holder (SAH) to submit undertakings for refugees referred by the sponsor and further to this, Appendix 3 describes the roles and responsibility of this undertaking in Joint Assistance Sponsorships;
- The ability to refer refugees for resettlement to Canada has been of longstanding importance to sponsors and to the CCR and it has been the practice of some sponsors to refer refugees for consideration under the Joint Assistance Program;
- The new regulations require a sponsor to sign a CR3 undertaking at the front-end of a referral of a refugee for consideration as a CR5, thus negating the need for the visa post to give due consideration to the eligibility for the CR5 programs and obliging the sponsor to fulfil their undertaking for full support as a CR3;
- Citizenship and Immigration Canada commits in the Sponsorship Agreement (page 6 - j) to make "best efforts to give notice of any change in policy, regulations or legislation that is likely to affect this Sponsorship Agreement": and this notice was not made;
- There is no mechanism available to sponsors to make referrals under the Joint Assistance Program other than by signing the undertaking as a CR3;
- NGOs overseas have the ability to refer refugees to the visa post for consideration as CR5s;
- CIC has indicated that it is difficult to identify enough refugees for resettlement in order to meet its annual targets;
- Joint Assistance Sponsorship cases may have community links in the destination community who will enhance the potential for successful establishment of otherwise difficult cases;
That the CCR:
- Urge Citizenship and Immigration: (i)to allow private sponsors in Canada to retain their ability to identify and refer refugees for consideration for resettlement to Canada as CR5s under the Joint Assistance and Women at Risk Programs; (ii)not to oblige private sponsors, in making the referral, to provide a CR3 undertaking at the time of referral as is described in the Operations Memorandum "Refugee and Humanitarian Resettlement Program: in Canada": and to revise the Operations Memorandum to reflect this, especially in Sections 8.4, 9.2.1 and 9.2.2;
- Request the NGO-Government Committee on the Private Sponsorship of Refugees to support this resolution;
- Request that CIC enter into consultation with private sponsors and other stakeholders to seek ways to address the issues of concern currently hampering the referral of named refugees under the CR5 Program.
- The Department of Citizenship and Immigration Canada has undertaken a consultative process with relevant stakeholders with a view to developing sponsorship programs that will include partnerships and blended roles and responsibilities;
- In some regions, as of April 1st 1998, the AAP/RAP allocations will be limited to the major urban centres in each region thus excluding the possibility of blended programs in smaller urban centres and rural communities where AAP/RAP will no longer be administered;
- A significant portion of current and past blended programs such as the Joint Assistance Sponsorship Program, the Women at Risk Program and the Special 3/9 Program for refugees from the former Yugoslavia have been undertaken successfully in smaller urban centres and rural communities;
That the CCR urge CIC to seek ways to ensure that AAP/RAP allocations are made available and can be administered in all communities where sponsorship groups wish to assist refugees to resettle under Joint Assistance Programs and other blended programs.
CIC has often expressed interest in a blended sponsorship program;
- The CCR call on CIC to form an Adhoc Committee to begin the process of developing a Canadian resettlement program blending the assistance of CIC, private groups and settlement services;
- The Adhoc Committee include a) the NGO-Government Committee on the Private Sponsorship of Refugees; b) representatives selected by the CCR Working Groups on Overseas Protection and Sponsorship and representatives selected by the CCR Working Group on Settlement; as well as c) other possible resource people and stakeholders.
- When the Government of Canada first negotiated with NGOs to join in the resettlement of refugees through the Private Sponsorship of Refugees Program, NGOs agreed to participate on the condition that the three principles of partnership, additionality and naming were guaranteed.
- These three principles were clearly articulated and supported in the Private Sponsorship Review.
- The Government of Canada regularly attempts to dilute these principles.
That the CCR write to the Government of Canada clearly reiterating the original principles of the Private Sponsorship Program and expressing our concern over Citizenship and Immigration Canada's regular attempts to dilute or discard these principles.