Not getting any easier to sponsor refugees

Church offers guidance to sponsors by giving them various options other than refugee status

The relatives of Syrian refugees in Toronto are sobered by the notion that the immigration process in Canada isn’t getting any easier, experts say.

Martin Mark, The Director of the Office of Refugees at the Archdiocese of Toronto, said that the immigration process is more difficult because sponsors are now fully responsible for handing in their own application papers. Before 2012, sponsors simply had to declare their sponsorship. At present, sponsors are required to do their own research on how to apply. On top of that, the sponsors themselves are fully responsible for submitting a package of immigration documents for the individuals they plan on sponsoring. Mark said that simply understanding the policies and the process, can get a bit tricky.

“The processes have become more complicated,” Mark said.

The process has become more complicated due to the amount of workload that is required from sponsors. Some sponsors have to fill out over 24 pages of forms. Mark said that this becomes overwhelming to sponsors due to the lack of understanding of the processes, costs and time spent to prepare these documents. Certain policies posted online aren’t fully understood by those applying and those who have limited understanding of the system.

The Office for Refugees Archdiocese of Toronto and Citizenship Immigration Canada plan to help inform the relatives of refugees of the challenges they will encounter in sponsoring a family member. This way, they would be more aware and prepared when preparing these documents. In 2015, over 700 cases were submitted.

The project is called The Civil Resettlement Program. It aims to facilitate resettlement, advocate refugees and provide referrals. The goal of this program is to help sponsors network with various platforms and gain access to more information. The program also provides information on non-refugee methods of immigrating to Canada. Such methods include family sponsorships, skilled immigrants, start up VISA and other temporary solutions. To sponsor one person would cost $12,600. An additional member, another $2,500.

According to a volunteer, Catherine Von Zuben, hearing the questions asked by other applicants in this program is very important in understanding the processes. It helps educate sponsors of what is required of them, giving them an understanding on how to proceed.

“There as been a great success rate,” Von Zuben said.”They couldn’t do it without having people come in and hearing questions and being taught how to fill out the forms.”

An event held recently at St. John’s Parish on Kingston Road drew more than 100 potential sponsors. The next program will be held on Oct. 19.