top of page

Requesting Refugee Protection in Canada from Abroad

Applying for refuge or asylum in Canada from outside the country may seem like a complicated process, but there are several programs available that can help you obtain refugee status in Canada.

To apply for asylum in Canada from outside the country, certain eligibility requirements must be met:

1. Fear of persecution: The person must have a well-founded fear of persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular social group in their country of origin.

2. Being unable to return to their country: The person cannot return to their country due to their fear of persecution.

3. Being unable to receive protection in their country of origin: The person is unable to receive protection in their country of origin due to persecution because the state is either unable or unwilling to provide protection.

4. Not having another country to go to: The person has no other country to seek protection.

5. To be referred to a refugee resettlement organization

The process to apply for refugee protection from outside of Canada is done through the Refugee Resettlement Program. This program is focused on helping people who are in situations of extreme risk or vulnerability outside of Canada, and who do not have viable options to protect themselves or their families.

To be eligible for the Refugee Resettlement Program, individuals must meet the eligibility criteria and be recommended for the program by a refugee resettlement organization. They may also be eligible for the program if they have family ties to people in Canada, or are sponsored by a refugee-sponsoring organization in Canada.

This program allows different people or organizations to refer a refugee for resettlement in Canada.The following entities may refer refugees to the program:

1. The United Nations for the High Commissioner of Human Rights (UNHCR): Can refer refugees who are under its protection and who need to be resettled in another country.

2. Non-Governmental Organizations: Organizations that work with refugees can refer refugees who are in situations of extreme vulnerability, such as women, children and people with disabilities.

3. Community Groups: Community groups, such as religious organizations, can refer refugees who have family or community ties in Canada.

4. Relatives or friends: Relatives or friends of a refugee abroad can also refer them to the program (they must be recognized as a refugee by the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) or another organization that can refer them to the government of Canada).

In addition to meeting the eligibility requirements for refugee status in Canada, refugees referred to the Refugee Resettlement Program must go through a screening and assessment process that includes interviews, criminal records checks, and medical examinations to determine their suitability for resettlement in Canada.

There are two main ways to apply for refuge or asylum in Canada if you are not in the country:

1) Government-Assisted Refugee Program

2) Private Sponsorship Program

The Government-Assisted Refugee Program is administered by the Government of Canada and helps the most vulnerable refugees, including those in situations of immediate danger. This program is designed for people who cannot receive protection in their country of origin or in the country where they are currently located. Government-assisted refugees receive financial and reintegration support for a set period of time. Refugees do not have any control over this variant, as they are selected and recommended by the organizations directly.

The Private Sponsorship Program allows you to request a Canadian sponsor to support your refugee or asylum claim. Sponsors can be groups of five or more members, community or religious organizations, or even individuals who have successfully applied in the past. It is important to note that sponsors are responsible for providing financial and emotional support to refugees for a set period of time, which is typically one to three years. In this group, Canadian private and community organizations that sponsor refugees are also included, there are many options available.

Por último, está el Programa de Movilidad Económica para Refugiados. Este programa está dirigido a aquellos refugiados que tienen habilidades y experiencia laboral, y que pueden contribuir a la economía canadiense. Los refugiados elegibles para este programa pueden recibir una visa para trabajar en Canadá y eventualmente solicitar la residencia permanente.

Finally, the Economic Mobility Program for Refugees is also available. This program is for those refugees with skills and work experience, and who can contribute to the Canadian economy. Refugees eligible for this program can receive a visa to work in Canada and eventually apply for permanent residence.


The Group of Five is a refugee sponsorship program in Canada that allows groups of five or more Canadians to sponsor refugees to come to Canada and settle here. This program was launched in 1978 to encourage civil society to get involved in refugee sponsorship and has been one of the main ways refugees have come to Canada ever since. Members of the Group of Five can be friends, family, co-workers or any other group of people who wish to help a refugee to settle in Canada.

To be eligible for Group of Five, sponsors must be citizens or permanent residents of Canada, 18 years of age or older, and willing to take responsibility for financially supporting the refugee for a period of 12 months. Sponsors must also submit an application to the Canadian government to be recognized as a sponsoring group.

The refugee sponsorship process involves a number of requirements and documents and can take several months, even years, to complete. If approved, the refugee may be eligible for resettlement to Canada, and the sponsors have the responsibility of assisting the refugee to integrate into their new community, providing financial, emotional and social support.

In general, the Canadian government requires sponsors to provide a minimum of CAD $20,000 per adult and CAD $10,000 for each minor they sponsor. However, the actual amount may vary depending on the province and the city of residence of the sponsor. Furthermore, it is important to note that financial support is not provided by a single sponsor; instead, it can be shared among the group members. In general, sponsors must have enough money available to cover all costs during the sponsorship period, which is one year.

It is important to highlight that this financial support covers the basic costs of living, such as housing, food, and clothing, as well as additional costs such as transportation, health care, and education, among others.

Sponsors of the Group of Five can demonstrate that they have the necessary financial resources to support the refugees they sponsor through a number of means:

  1. Tax Returns: Sponsors may submit recent tax returns to demonstrate their income and their ability to maintain their financial commitment to refugees

  2. Bank Statements: Sponsors may submit bank statements showing their financial capacity and the availability of funds to meet their financial commitment

  3. Employment Letters: Sponsors may submit employment letters from their employers indicating their income and job stability

  4. Bank guarantee: In some cases, sponsors can obtain a bank guarantee to demonstrate their financial capacity. A bank guarantee is a financial guarantee provided by a bank that ensures that the necessary funds will be available to meet the financial commitment.

It is also important to note that the Group of Five sponsorship process involves several steps and requirements, including submitting documentation and conducting interviews with refugees. Sponsors must also meet eligibility requirements, such as having no criminal record and being willing to commit to providing financial and emotional support for at least one year after the refugee's arrival in Canada.


For many, the Group of Five is not an option because they do not have any relatives or friends in Canada who can sponsor them. However, not everything is lost. Remember the aforementioned community organizations that also function as private sponsors.

Some of the larger organizations include the Red Cross, World Vision and Amnesty International. However, there are also many local and community organizations that sponsor refugees and provide emotional and financial support. Some examples include Lifeline Syria, World University Service of Canada, and Matthew House Refugee. For example, we have the Ottawa Refugee Support Society, which helps refugees settle in the city of Ottawa. There is also the Toronto Refugee Resource Center, which offers assistance to refugees in the city of Toronto.

Now, how can you contact these organizations if you are outside of Canada? One option is to google organizations that are dedicated to sponsoring refugees. You can also inquire at the nearest Canadian embassy or consulate for more information. Also, some organizations have local offices in different countries, so check to see if there is one near you.

These organizations and many others across Canada are excellent sources of support and resources for refugees seeking to settle in the country. To find these organizations, help can be sought from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), who can provide information on local organizations that support refugees in Canada and other countries. Another option is through the network of refugee support organizations in your home country or in neighboring countries, which often have links to Canadian organizations working on refugee sponsorship. They can also contact Canadian organizations directly through their websites or social media and request information about the sponsorship process and how they can receive support.

130 views0 comments


bottom of page