Refugee Support Network (EN)

The WUSC Refugee Support Network

New Ways to Sponsor Refugees with WUSC

The latest global trends report from UNHCR shows that the global refugee crisis continues to worsen, with a record high of 70.8 million people displaced around the world in 2018. With Canada being a world leader in refugee resettlement, new initiatives have been emerging across the country to respond to this crisis, and WUSC is proud to support them.

Join the WUSC Refugee Support Network

The WUSC Refugee Support Network (RSN) is an opportunity for the WUSC network, including WUSC Local Committee and Student Refugee Program alumni, to continue to support refugee resettlement and integration.

Through the RSN, groups of WUSC alumni and friends can form a sponsorship group to support the resettlement of refugee(s) who have been referred by the UNHCR and who will arrive in Canada in 2019. The RSN will be sponsoring refugees through a uniquely Canadian program, called the Blended Visa Office-Referred Program (BVOR).

About the Blended Visa Office-Referred Program (BVOR)

The BVOR program resettles refugees who have been identified by UNHCR and who have been referred to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).

These BVOR cases are matched with sponsorship groups that have committed to providing financial, emotional, and other resettlement support to help newcomers integrate into life in Canada. This sponsorship model is one that connects strangers with one another; refugees cannot be identified or referred by private groups or organizations for sponsorship through the BVOR program.

Prior to matching with a sponsorship group, refugees will have already met eligibility and admissibility criteria, and will have received full background checks. For this reason, newcomers sponsored through the BVOR program typically arrive in Canada two to four months after matching with a sponsorship group.

Refugee populations in the BVOR program include (but are not limited to): Colombians, Congolese, Ethiopians, Eritreans, Iranians, Iraqis, Somalis, Syrians, and Sudanese. In order to qualify for BVOR, refugees must also meet one or more of the following vulnerabilities or reasons for resettlement:

  • Women and girls at risk
  • LGBTQ2
  • Survivors of violence and torture
  • Lack of foreseeable alternative durable solutions

To help fulfill WUSC’s mission to support young refugees, we will be facilitating and encouraging the matching of young individuals with RSN sponsorship groups.

You can find more information on BVOR here.

Funding the WUSC Refugee Support Network Sponsorship

The BVOR is called a “blended” program, because it is a cost-sharing arrangement where IRCC and private sponsors both contribute financially to support newcomers. The Canadian government pays for 50% of the settlement costs, through the Resettlement Assistance Program (RAP), and private sponsors cover the other 50%. The RSN will also be utilizing a unique, time-limited fund called the BVOR Fund to cover the other 50% of settlement costs that are typically covered by the private sponsorship group.

Resettlement Assistance Program (RAP)

RAP has two main components: income support and a range of immediate essential services. The amount that a newcomer receives from RAP varies depending on the community of resettlement. For more information on the RAP rates in your RSN group’s community of resettlement, visit this website.

The BVOR Fund

The RSN will also be utilizing a unique, time-limited fund called the BVOR Fund. Thanks to private donations, it will cover the other 50% of settlement costs that are typically covered by the private sponsorship group. This means that, through funds provided by the Government of Canada (RAP) and the BVOR Fund, the full cost of the sponsorship of those resettled is covered, beyond the start-up costs. The main responsibility of the RSN sponsorship group is to provide social and logistical settlement support to the newcomers.

Start-up costs

RSN groups are responsible for covering the initial start-up costs for newcomers sponsored, which can be acquired new or through in-kind donations. Start-up costs include things like household items, furniture, linens, food staples, seasonal and regular clothing, and school registration fees (if applicable). You can find more information on start-up costs here (see question 1) and here.

Potential additional costs

RSN sponsorship groups should also be prepared to cover expenses that are not covered under RAP or the BVOR Fund. These costs could include:

  • Helping the newcomers pay back Immigration Loans
  • Health-related expenses not covered by the Interim Federal Health (IFH) program
  • Emergency funds (for example, if the individual unexpectedly has to move and rent a U-Haul, this cost is extra)

For this reason, it is highly recommended that sponsorship groups fundraise to create an emergency fund in order to be adequately prepared should various costs arise. WUSC will provide support via fundraising training and an online platform.


Next Steps*

If you would like to be connected to a sponsorship group:

  1. Fill out this form, so we can facilitate a connection between you and other interested WUSC alumni in your area.

If you have already formed an RSN sponsorship group and are ready to move forward:

    1. Send an email to [email protected] as soon as possible with the following:
      • A statement that confirms that “All those included in this email agree to be part of the sponsoring group through the WUSC Refugee Support Network and we are ready to complete our intent to sponsor form.”;
      • The names and emails of all those in your group (minimum of 5 people), and ensure they are all copied to the email;
      • The TWO (2) primary contacts of the group who will be responsible for liaising with WUSC; and
      • The city of sponsorship.
    2. We will then provide you with a link to fill out our Intent to Sponsor (ITS) form.


*Note that this is a time-sensitive opportunity, and all groups need to be formed as soon as possible to allow enough time to apply for the fund and complete immigration forms.

Although groups need to be formed and committed as soon as possible, the arrival of refugees sponsored through the initiative will take place in the weeks and months following the submission of the RSN groups’ Intent to Sponsor form and the subsequent matching of the group to a refugee or refugee family. Please ensure you consider this timeframe when you and your group members are assessing your ability to participate.


Looking for more information?

Please don’t hesitate to reach out to [email protected] should you have any more questions.

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