Settlement Services

Refugee Services

The Private Sponsorship of Refugees Program

The Private Sponsorship of Refugees (PSR) program is a program administered by Immigration, Refugees & Citizenship Canada (IRCC) and the people of Canada to extend Canada’s capacity to resettle refugees from abroad. The PSR program is unique to Canada and gives Canadians the opportunity to play a meaningful role in the welcome and integration of refugees to Canada.


Private sponsors are groups of Canadians or organizations, including faith-based associations, ethnocultural groups or settlement organizations. They can sponsor refugees as members of one of the following three categories:


  • Groups of Five (G5)Five or more Canadian citizens or permanent residents with the financial and settlement capacity to fulfill sponsorship requirements who collectively arrange for the sponsorship of a refugee living abroad to welcome them in their community.
  • Community Sponsors: Organizations, associations or corporations located in the community where refugees will be resettled, with the financial and settlement capacity to fulfill sponsorship requirements.
  • Sponsorship Agreement Holders (SAHs): Incorporated organizations that have signed an agreement with Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) and assume overall responsibility for the management of sponsorships. SAHs can also authorize Constituent Groups (CGs) from the community to sponsor refugees under their agreement.


AWO’s Refugee Sponsorship Program

The Afghan Women’s Organization (AWO) is one of the few settlement organizations in Canada that has signed a Sponsorship Agreement with Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) and is known as a  Sponsorship Agreement Holder (SAH). In compliance with Canada’s refugee eligibility criteria, and since its sponsorship program’s inception, the organization has sponsored and successfully settled over 5,000 refugees from several visa posts worldwide to Canada.

Given our mandate as an organization, AWO mainly focuses on protecting vulnerable women and their families from diverse refugee populations who leave a situation of crisis and persecution for a safe home in Canada. AWO works with its co-sponsors, sponsoring groups, family and friends of refugees, and the organization’s volunteers to put pre-arrival settlement plans.  This ensures that practical, financial, and emotional supports are in place for sponsored refugees. Once in Canada, AWO works alongside newcomers to support them to fully realize their potential and so that they may become contributing members of an inclusive society.

Refugee Sponsorship can be a complex process with many specific rules and regulations and AWO, like other SAHs, has very strict limits on the number of people that can be sponsored each year.  Unfortunately, given both these criteria and our quotas, we are unable to respond to the growing demands of all who reach out to the organization in the hopes of being sponsored or sponsoring friends and family.


Who can be sponsored as a refugee to Canada?


Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Protection Act  ( ) specifies who may apply for protection as a refugee. The person must apply from outside of Canada, and, in brief, they must be unable to live in their home country because of a well-founded fear of persecution, the effects of civil war or armed conflict, or the ongoing denial of their basic human rights.



More information on private sponsorship can be found by clicking the following links:


The IRCC Guide to Private Sponsorship: (


Refugee Sponsorship Training Program:

Citizenship and Immigration Canada:

Private Sponsorship: Get the Facts!

How Communities Sponsor Refugees: Canada’s Program

Your Rights as a Privately Sponsored Refugee:

Government of Canada Publications: Order free “Welcome to Canada” books online for the newcomers you sponsor, with general information about life in Canada.

Settlement.Org: A centralized source for all settlement related information, including common questions, processes, resources and links.

Translated Settlement Information: Hundreds of articles about life in Ontario and referral resources for newcomers to Ontario in many languages.

211 Ontario: Help finding programs and services in your community.

Minimum Financial Support Calculator: Minimum Financial Support Calculator (