Canada has increased to 13,500 the number of refugees that can be brought in under its private sponsorship program.

Immigration Minister Sean Fraser made the announcement last week, saying the move “will support the vital work of these community organizations so they can continue helping refugees from around the world settle in Canada”.

The move represents a 10-fold increase on 2012, when the cap was first introduced, or 12,150 extra spaces to the more than 130 private organizations at the heart of the program.

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“The additional cap spaces will allow new sponsors to get their operations off the ground, while helping experienced organizations continue to grow,” said Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).

“These organizations manage all aspects of the sponsorship process, from identifying refugees and submitting applications to providing critical support to sponsored newcomers.”

Canada’s private sponsorship program is one of three for bringing in refugees, alongside the Government-Assisted Program and the Blended Visa Office-Referred Program. 

The refugee offering is the envy of the world, with Canada helping develop program in Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Germany, Ireland, New Zealand, Spain, the UK and the US.

Canada first began allowing the private sponsorship of refugees as far back as 1978, and between then and 2020 welcomed more than 350,000 through the program.


It works through sponsors reaching agreements with IRCC to bring in a certain number of refugees each year. The sponsor provides income and settlement support, usually for a year, covering costs including housing, food and public transportation, furniture and clothing.

As of January, there were 138 sponsoring organizations in Canada, with a further 51 applications in the pipeline, set to be approved later this year.

Canada’s Immigration Levels Plan targets 144,000 refugee newcomers between now and 2025, including 83,500 under the private sponsorship program.

Sponsorship Agreement Holders will bring in a large portion of this total, with others being brought in by individual groups of five, community sponsors and Quebec-based sponsors.

IRCC also operates the Economic Mobility Pathways Pilot (EMPP), which provides special assistance for refugees to qualify for immigration as skilled workers through such streams as the Provincial Nominee Program, the Atlantic Immigration Pilot, and the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot.

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