How Long Will It Take for the Refugee to Arrive in Canada?

The overseas processing time of a privately named refugee sponsorship application varies in different Canadian visa offices abroad. There is usually a processing time of approximately three to four years. Government-sponsored, or BVOR cases, can take from four to 16 weeks after the application has been approved.

The refugee sponsorship process includes:

  • Medical screening
  • Security screening
  • Criminality screening

Visit the Government of Canada website for complete details.

How Do We Know if the Refugee Applicant Has Been Accepted after the Interview?

If refugee applicants are informed and/or given information by the Canadian visa officer on how to obtain a medical exam, it means that their interview was successful. The acceptance of their case now depends on successfully passing the medical, criminality, and security checks (i.e., admissibility criteria). If the interview was not successful, the interviewing Canadian visa officer will inform the refugee applicant. The decision will be confirmed in a letter from the visa office.

Who Arranges the Flight Details and Handles the Exit Permits?

Generally, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) handles all travel-related matters for sponsored refugees. IOM staff will book the flight and arrange for exit permits.

What to Do Once You Receive the Notification of Arrival

Once your group has received a “NAT” (notification of arrival transmission), letting you know you have been assigned a refugee family for support, here is what to do:

  • Take some time to review your settlement plan and make any necessary changes. You may need to research housing, child care, settlement agencies, schools, etc.
  • Identify the group members who will be welcoming the refugees at the airport or at the destination indicated in the NAT. Share your cell phone numbers or e-mails with the Refugee Advisor at the national office, in the event that Border Services is unable to reach you.
  • Book an appointment with the local Citizenship and Immigration (CIC) officer for the first refugee intake interview.
    Note: Where there is no local CIC available, take two passport size photos of the refugees, complete the application for Interim Federal Health Program (IFH), complete the FIN0017E (direct deposit document) , and e-mail these documents to the local CIC office. Send the originals by secure mail to the local CIC office.
  • Gather the forms and note the office locations that the refugees will require in order to ensure they have access to everything they are eligible.

Arrival and first weeks checklist

  • Pick up refugees from arrival point. If you do not have a translator at the pick-up point, use the translator accompanying the refugees at the airport.
  • Refugees will require provincial health coverage and card. You should also help them apply for the Interim Federal Health plan, the Child Tax Benefit and a Social Insurance Number. A complete checklist is below
  • The refugees will require a mailing address (or temporary address if housing has not been secured) to register for programs and to receive the Permanent Resident card.
  • Someone should also be ready to help them open a bank account and help them learn to budget, using the monetary amounts the government has given during the intake interview. Money management will assist in their settlement.
  • Continue house-hunting with help from the settlement agency workers. Some landlords will require a guarantor to sign the lease.
  • Show refugees how to use basic things, such as public transit, paying for items at the store, phone, etc.