We can all be proud that the Diocese of New Westminster has had a strong response to the worldwide appeal for sponsorship of refugees. We have many parishes and other groups who have worked with our diocese to bring people to our beautiful corner of the world and start a new life here. Several times a week, we receive requests from needy people around the world asking to bring themselves, their friends, or their families to Canada. For most of them, however, there is nothing we can do to help. In order to help a refugee to become a newcomer, we need an allocated space from our government as well as a parish group ready to provide settlement assistance. If your parish is interested in sponsorship, there is every kind of refugee waiting to be sponsored. These range from very large families to single individuals from all corners of the world.
If your parish is interested in becoming involved, or renewing involvement in sponsorship, there are many ways to do that! Here are some possibilities for you to consider:
- Full sponsorship of identified individuals: This can happen through a referral from Mosaic BC, through a family member or friend who is already here, or some other connection. A person or family has been identified to be in need of sponsorship and outside of their home country. The sponsorship group submits a great deal of paperwork and then waits for the newcomers to arrive. The waiting process can be very long; somewhere between 18 months and several years, depending on the situation and the country where the people are waiting. There is PLENTY of time for fundraising!
- Blended Visa Office Referred (BVOR): This involves selecting an individual or family from a list the government has compiled of refugees who are "travel ready". This means that interviews, security checks, and medical examinations have already been completed and now the people are waiting for someone to select them from the list. There is a smaller amount of paperwork to be filed and the newcomers are expected to arrive in 2-6 months from receipt of their complete application. The Canadian government provides six months of funding for these individuals, at government rates (similar to welfare).
- Rainbow Refugee Assistance Project (RRAP): This is similar to the BVOR program, in that people are already identified. All of the individuals in this program are asylum seekers who are LGBTQ and/or HIV positive. The government provides three months of funding for these individuals, at government rates. We do not yet know if there is an expedited process for these people, but there may be.
- Co-sponsorship: There are community groups or families who are willing and able to do most, or all of the fundraising and settlement work to bring refugees to Canada. They can form a group called a "Group of five" to do this, but it is easier and faster to work with a Sponsorship Agreement Holder (SAH), such as our diocese. If your parish is interested in being involved, but does not have the fundraising capacity or individuals able to do the settlement work, we may be able to match you with a community group. This is a wonderful way to build new ties with your community and make a sponsorship happen, with a lower level of involvement. Typically, these arrangements involve sponsoring identified individuals, so the wait time until arrival will be fairly long.
If you’d like more information about any of these options, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org. We can then provide you with further information and/or arrange to have a chat with you.
Said and Bukhari at a R.E.S.T. celebration Summer of 2017 Photo Wayne Chose