The Refugee Sponsorship Support Program (SSP) is a national program across Canada that trains lawyers to provide free support to individuals and groups seeking to privately sponsor refugees.
The Refugee Sponsorship Support Program was established in 2015 to bring together sponsorship experts, pro-bono lawyers, law students, and community organizations to offer direct support to Canadians seeking to sponsor refugees. Created in response to the huge amount of public interest in private refugee sponsorship in the fall of 2015, individuals, groups and lawyers across Canada mobilized to help. Over two years later, the appetite for private sponsorship remains. There continues to be a large number of individuals who are prepared and able to sponsor refugees, but these groups often require assistance in filling out forms and navigating the complex sponsorship process.
The SSP has three primary components:
- Direct sponsorship support, which provides sponsor groups with direct support from pro-bono lawyers and law students throughout the private refugee sponsorship application process.
- A training program in partnership with the Refugee Sponsorship Training Program (RSTP), which trains lawyers and law students on the completion of sponsorships, and provides ongoing support for their work through sponsorship experts.
- A public information program, which provides Canadians with resources and support regarding sponsorship.
I want to Sponsor a Refugee
“Sponsoring refugees is an amazing experience that saves lives, gives the gift of hope to people who are lost in despair and changes us forever as individuals and as a nation.”
– Liz McWeeny, Member of the Order of Canada, expert with over 35 years of experience in refugee resettlement
If you’re thinking about sponsoring a refugee, we can help. More than 1400 lawyers across Canada are trained and ready to offer their services free of charge to sponsorship groups. This is possible thanks in large part to the mobilizing efforts of the Refugee Sponsorship Training Program (RSTP), Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers (CARL), the Canadian Bar Association (CBA), and our provincial and local partners.
Here’s how to get started:
1) Know the Basics
Do your research and attend an information session (delivered by the Refugee Sponsorship Training Program).
You can learn about sponsorship basics by reviewing the resources here.
2) Prepare to Sponsor.
By developing a better understanding of the requirements for sponsorship you will be able to determine your eligibility to sponsor and the eligibility of the refugees you are seeking to sponsor (if applicable). This includes determining through which avenue you will sponsor, whether it be a Group of Five or a Sponsorship Agreement Holder for example.
You can learn more about the requirements and categories by reviewing the resources here.
3) Let us help!
Depending where you are located, there may be different ways you can access our services. Please contact email@example.com with the following information:
- Where you live in Canada
- What type of sponsorship you are pursuing (Sponsorship Agreement Holder, Group of Five, Community Sponsor, Constituent Group, if you know)
- Who you are sponsoring (how many, which country they are from, which country they are currently in, what their status is in the country)*
- Any other information you think we should know
*If applying for Group of Five, please include in your email a scanned copy of the refugee status documents confirming that the refugees you are sponsoring are eligible for a Group of Five sponsorship. You can read more about Group of Five sponsorship eligibility here.
You will be asked to complete a registration form if you are eligible and, following this, be matched with a volunteer lawyer who will provide you support with your application. The volunteer you are matched with is usually in your community, but in some cases (in particular for smaller communities), the volunteer lawyer may be remote, and the match will be conducted through telephone and internet communications.
PLEASE NOTE: SSP Pro Bono Lawyers are not allowed to charge fees for any sponsorship support services offered through the SSP. This is a strictly pro bono (free) program. If you are working with an SSP Pro Bono Lawyer and they ask you to pay for the help they are giving you, please email firstname.lastname@example.org immediately.
For situations that fall outside of the expertise of the SSP, you can be referred to other service providers, some of which may charge fees. If a submitted application is refused, your case may be eligible for a Judicial Review. The SSP can refer you to lawyers who will provide a free initial consultation and continued service at a fee.
The SSP unfortunately cannot directly assist refugees abroad in their sponsorship to Canada. If you are outside of Canada and know someone in Canada who is willing and able to sponsor you, they can contact us at email@example.com for more information and support.
I want to provide Pro Bono Legal Services
“I am so proud of my profession…People are taking time to help people they don’t even know, and that’s a beautiful thing.”
- Katie Black, Ottawa civil litigator
The SSP relies on the generosity and interest of lawyers looking to give back to their communities. We seek to provide effective training on private sponsorship to lawyers of all backgrounds, pair those dedicated legal professionals to groups looking to sponsor, all in an effort to bring refugees to safety in Canada and reunite families.
ARE YOU A LAWYER?
If you’re a lawyer and want to help by providing pro bono support to sponsors and sponsorship groups, get in touch with the SSP to register. As part of the induction to the program you will receive training on the private sponsorship process and will then be matched to a group as a volunteer. Please note that SSP Pro Bono Lawyers are not allowed to charge fees for any sponsorship support services offered using SSP resources or benefiting from SSP training.
This is a strictly pro bono (free) program. Please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org to be directed to the Chapter Coordinator nearest to you who can register you and answer any questions you may have about volunteering with us.
ARE YOU A LAW STUDENT?
If you are a law student, email us at email@example.com to let us know about your interest and check this space for updates on opportunities in your area.
ARE YOU AN EXPERT?
If you are an expert in refugee sponsorship and would like to lend your expertise to this program, we would be delighted to hear from you. Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to connect.