PRESS RELEASE: Funds Now Available for Canadians to Sponsor Hundreds of Refugees in 2019

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

OTTAWA, ONTARIO, 2 May 2019 – The University of Ottawa Refugee Hub is delighted to announce the renewal of its successful 2018 BVOR Fund. The new time-limited fund will facilitate the sponsorship to Canada of refugees identified by the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR).

Seeded by two of last year’s lead donors– The Shapiro Foundation and G. Barrie Landry– the goal of the 2019 BVOR Fund will once again be to grow participation in sponsorship and maximize the number of refugee resettlement spaces being utilized.

Beginning today, qualifying Canadian groups can apply to have their portion of the settlement costs associated with sponsoring a refugee through the Blended Visa Office Referred (BVOR) program fully covered by the fund. Groups will remain responsible for securing funding or in-kind donations to cover start-up costs such as clothing and furniture.

In addition, qualifying Sponsorship Agreement Holders (SAHs) will, for the first time, be able to apply for funds to help with the administrative costs associated with supporting increased BVOR sponsorships.

The 2019 BVOR Fund is also encouraging others to join our partnership through small and large donations. Those who cannot sponsor but are interested in directly supporting both refugees and the neighbours that welcome them are encouraged to contribute.

A similar fund was created in 2018 with the generous financial support of The Shapiro Foundation, the Giustra Foundation, G. Barrie Landry and other donors. In 2018, the fund supported 150 groups in 49 Canadian communities, who together sponsored over 650 refugees.

The Government of Canada has approved 1,650 refugee protection spaces under the BVOR program for 2019. Currently, there are over 1, 000 spaces yet to be matched for arrival in 2019.  Under this program, the UNHCR identifies refugees to come to Canada, and the Canadian government and sponsor groups share settlement costs.

All refugees sponsored 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.

Applications for sponsorship funding and SAH funding will be accepted until August 31, 2019, or until the 2019 BVOR Fund is exhausted. 

If you would like to become a BVOR sponsor, apply for sponsorship or SAH funding, or make a donation, please contact

To see the power of sponsorship in action, watch this short film to meet one of the groups supported by the 2018 BVOR Fund:

For further information: or T: (613) 562-5800 ext. 1136


“Community generosity and neighbourly kindness are at the heart of Canada’s incredible sponsorship program. The BVOR Fund aims to mobilize and support sponsorship groups so that they in turn can support more refugees. It is a privilege to partner with generous donors, the UNHCR, and phenomenal organizations across the country as we all aim to maximize use of Canada’s resettlement capacity. Most of all, it is a privilege to work with so many incredible sponsors, each of whom strengthens Canada and inspires us all by helping refugees become our new neighbours.”
Jennifer Bond, Managing Director, Refugee Hub

“Once again, I am incredibly proud to partner with the Refugee Hub and Barrie Landry to launch a BVOR Fund to support sponsors across Canada in their efforts to welcome newcomers. We have been so inspired to hear the stories from first-time and repeat sponsor groups across the country and newcomers who arrived under the 2018 BVOR Fund.  Resettling refugees in Canada through private sponsorship is a model which benefits everyone involved and as a philanthropist there is no investment I’m more proud of.”
Ed Shapiro, Trustee, The Shapiro Foundation

“At a time of record high global needs, it is critical to support sponsor groups who have served as a model for welcoming refugees. I am proud to join forces with Ed Shapiro and the Refugee Hub & with so many others working to provide lasting solutions for refugees.”  
G. Barrie Landry

“As displacement trends continue to increase globally, resettlement offers an important lifeline to the women, men and children forced to flee their homes. The BVOR programme supports Canada’s long tradition of welcoming refugees through sponsorship at a time when needs are great and every resettlement space counts. The Fund and it’s generous donors will enable more volunteer groups to provide refugees with a truly lifesaving solution.”
Jean Nicolas Beuze, UNHCR Country Representative Canada


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 Refugee Hub’s  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 2000, 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, and Bangladesh. More:

G. Barrie Landry
G. Barrie Landry is a philanthropist focusing on social justice issues often faced by vulnerable populations in the areas of global health, education, refugee resettlement and self-reliance, and child protection.