Refugee Sponsorship

The CUC and Refugee Sponsorship

In the world of refugee resettlement, 2016 was a phenomenal year that saw an outpouring of generosity from Canadians who responded to resettle Syrian refugees.

What began as a response to the Syrian refugee crisis quickly grew in the minds and hearts of Canadian Unitarians to encompass refugees from around the world. Since December of 2015, Unitarians across Canada have welcomed 176 newcomers from Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Burundi, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia, and Gambia.

Canadian Unitarian congregations currently have 34 applications in progress (as of January 2017), representing another 75 individuals we are waiting to welcome to Canada from around the world.

Allocations for Sponsorship Agreement Holders (SAHs) in 2017

The government has eliminated sub-caps (spaces per mission) and has limited the global cap for private sponsorship to 7,500 persons. This means that there is only a total of 7,500 spaces for NEW applications for all Sponsorship Agreement Holders (SAHs) in 2017. Every individual on an application represents one space. The cap is intended to reduce the backlog of over 45,000 persons waiting to be processed over the next 2 years.

Minister of Immigration Ahmed Hussen has made it clear that Canada will not increase its intake of refugees in the wake of a controversial immigration and travel ban issued by the United States in January 2017.

The full statement from Immigration, Refugee, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) on 2017 refugee allocations can be found on the IRCC website.

CUC Sponsorship in 2017

As a result of these changes, we have been allocated 30 spaces for the 2017 calendar year. We are very disappointed with this response from the government as we had requested almost 80 spaces on behalf of our congregations.These spaces have been allocated using the following criteria: date of request, urgency of sponsorship, number of spaces required, readiness of sponsoring group.

We will continue to advocate for more spaces in 2018 and ask that you express your interest in sponsorship by completing our refugee sponsorship form. Further, by indicating your interest in sponsorship, we are able to respond to your request should an allocated space become available. The world of refugee sponsorship is constantly changing and we therefore recommend completing the form as soon as you become aware of your interest.

Sponsorship Requests

The CUC is profoundly sorry, but we are not able to begin further refugee applications at this time. Please feel free to pursue other options for sponsorship in Canada or other suitable countries as our wait-list is quite extensive and we have limited resources. We wish you every success in relocation.

Responding to the refugee situation

Please help make your voice heard – read this article on ‘A Campaign to Fix Canada’s Broken Refugee System.’ Write to your Member of Parliament and ask that the government moves swiftly and efficiently to address the backlog of refugee applications. See the sample letter here.

If your congregation is considering sponsorship, please take a look at the following before proceeding further:

The following  will provide necessary information once your congregation is further on in the process:

Be Smart, Plan from the Start

It is best to start preparing yourselves and the newcomers at least 3 months before the sponsorship time comes to a close. There are so many things to consider as we facilitate and empower newcomers to navigate independently in Canada. Thank you all for your dedication and exceptional efforts!

Income Taxes and the Newcomer

“Does a newcomer have to claim funds provided by their sponsoring group when filing their tax return?”

The answer, “If you are a protected person and you received funds from a charitable organization such as a church group, you generally do not have to report the amounts on your tax return. However, if a charitable organization hired you as an employee, the employment income you received is taxable.” Here is the complete Newcomers to Canada brochure, detailing income tax regulations.

The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) has created fact sheets to give newcomers an overview of benefit and credit entitlements under the Canadian tax system. These fact sheets outline how by filing your taxes you might benefit from programs like the Canada Child Benefit.

These fact sheets have been made available in the following languages by

For further assistance understanding taxes and the newcomer, check out these resources from the Canada Revenue Agency website.

The CUC is a Sponsorship Agreement Holder (SAH)

Sponsorship Agreement Holders (SAH) are incorporated organizations that have signed a sponsorship agreement with the Minister of Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada.

A SAH can be a local, regional or national organization. A SAH assumes overall responsibility and liability for the management of sponsorship’s under its agreement. In addition, a SAH must be located in the community where the refugee or refugee family is expected to resettle. A SAH can authorize other groups in the community to sponsor refugees under its agreement. These groups are known as “Constituent Groups” and can be a congregation or outside organization such as Capital Rainbow Refugees.  A Constituent Group (CG) is authorized in writing by the SAH to act on its behalf in sponsoring refugees.

Why work with a SAH as a Constituent Group or Congregation?

This three-way partnership between SAH’s, IRCC and CG’s allows refugees with no other solutions to resettle in Canada. Sponsorship requires groups of people who are committed to working alongside refugees in order to ensure that they have the necessary support to integrate into life in Canada. Unitarian Universalists have provided this type of support to refugees for many years.  As a SAH, the CUC is able to streamline the application process and support a congregation or CG which increases Canada’s ability to offer protection to refugees.

Please contact April Hope, Social Responsibility Coordinator, at if you are interested in learning more about refugee sponsorship.

For general information about how to help with the Syrian situation, go to How YOU Can Help a Syrian Refugee