News Release: New Fund Covers Costs for Canadians Sponsoring Refugees

Special initiative brings together sponsors & funders to resettle UNHCR referred refugees to Canada

OTTAWA, ONTARIO, 7 August 2018 – The University of Ottawa Refugee Hub and the Shapiro Foundation, together with Jewish Family Services Ottawa, are delighted to announce the creation of a new fund aimed at facilitating the sponsorship of up to 1,000 refugees identified by the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR).

For a limited time, qualifying Canadian groups will have the cost of sponsoring a refugee through the Blended Visa Office Referred (BVOR) program fully covered by the fund.

With a record 25.4 million refugees displaced by war and persecution, the global refugee crisis is one of the most critical and devastating challenges of our time. Canadians have consistently demonstrated generosity, compassion, and a willingness to resettle some of the world’s most vulnerable people – a commitment that is particularly important when resettlement options around the world are being reduced.

As part of its annual immigration planning, the Government of Canada has approved 1,500 refugees to be resettled to Canada through the BVOR program in 2018. Under this program, the UNHCR identifies refugees to come to Canada, and the Canadian government and sponsor groups share resettlement costs.  As a result of this new fund, the sponsors’ portion of the financial commitment will be fully subsidized by private donors.

All refugees resettled to Canada undergo rigorous security, legal, and health checks. Once they arrive in Canada, they are welcomed and supported by their sponsorship group for a minimum of one year.

This innovative fund is being created with the generous financial support of The Shapiro Foundation and another significant Canadian donor. Funding for both start-up costs and settlement costs associated with BVOR sponsorship will be available to groups that submit applications to the fund before September 17, 2018, or until the fund is exhausted prior to the deadline.

Refugees sponsored with the support of this fund will arrive in Canada before December 31, 2018.

If you would like to sponsor a BVOR case before September 17, 2018, please contact: Individuals interested in supporting the mobilization of BVOR sponsors in 2018 are able to donate at:


For more information:  Kailee Brennan or T: (613) 562-5800 ext.4555



“The UNHCR identifies a tiny fraction of the world’s refugees for resettlement, and those referred urgently need to be brought to safety. In Canada, more than 1,000 BVOR cases are at risk in 2018 if we do not mobilize Canadian sponsors. The Refugee Hub is working with sponsors and other partners across Canada to bring as many vulnerable people to safety as we can before resettlement capacity is lost. We are tremendously grateful to the Shapiro Foundation and the other significant Canadian donor involved in this project for their innovative thinking and generous contributions.”

  • Jennifer Bond, Managing Director, Refugee Hub.

“At a time of record high global needs and diminishing resettlement opportunities for refugees, these thousand spaces are more precious than ever.  It is critical to support sponsor groups who have served as a model for welcoming refugees and by unbundling their required financial obligations, we hope they will be able to increase their 2018 resettlement commitments.  I am proud to support Canada as it continues to provide leadership, innovation and solutions for refugees in this time of unprecedented crisis.”

  • Ed Shapiro, Trustee, The Shapiro Foundation.



Blended Visa Office-Referred (BVOR) Program

The Blended Visa Office-Referred (BVOR) Program matches refugees identified for resettlement by the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) with private sponsors in Canada.

  • The UNHCR identifies the refugees.
  • The Government of Canada gives up to six months of income support.
  • Private sponsors give another six months of financial support. They also give up to a year of social and emotional support.



The Refugee Hub

The Refugee Hub was founded at the University of Ottawa in 2012. Its mission is to foster justice and human rights for refugees at local, national, and international levels through innovative research, programs and partnerships.  The Hub’s six flagship projects include the Refugee Sponsorship Support Program, which supports Canadian sponsors, and the Global Refugee Sponsorship Initiative, which encourages and supports the adoption of community sponsorship programs in countries outside of Canada.  More:


The Shapiro Foundation

The Shapiro Foundation, founded by Barbara and Edward Shapiro in 2001, is a U.S. charitable foundation focused on improving the lives of the world’s most vulnerable populations. The foundation’s primary focus is on children, refugees, and immigrants, as well as education, global health, and humanitarian aid. Support is provided for organizations in Boston and throughout the US, as well as Canada, Israel, Greece, Rwanda, Bangladesh and Liberia. More: