We sponsor under the authority of the Anglican Diocese of Rupert’s Land and also the Roman Catholic Archiepiscopal Corporation of Winnipeg [Manitoba Canada]. These are Sponsorship Agreement Holders empowered to sponsor refugees by the Government of Canada. Hospitality House is therefore known as a "Constituent Group" of these two dioceses.
Hospitality House in 2011 initiated more than 800 new sponsorships covering 1,940 refugees. This is more than any other Constituent Group in Canada. The Canadian government has imposed a restriction on new cases until they can catch up on the inventory of old cases. It is unlikely that Hospitality House in future will be allowed to sponsor as many cases annually as it has been able to do in the past.
We manage many earlier files. In total these encompass over 5,000 refugees still overseas. All these files must be tended. Keeping files up to date is a major task. Finally, the refugee's arrival in Winnipeg creates work and responsibility. Hospitality House is undertaking no new cases in 2012. It does not expect to be allowed to undertake new cases until 2014 or 2015.
Most of our cases are and must be "Family-Linked", which means that there is a guarantor or guarantors in Winnipeg willing to look after the refugees after they arrive, providing the necessary financial support until they are resettled; this is how we achieve our large volume of sponsorships. We do, however, sponsor a few refugees each year (when government restrictions are not in place) who do not have family supports here, so this is entirely at our expense.
Hospitality House depends on private donations to support its work, to run the office, and to support the refugees we have sponsored. We are currently working on setting up a procedure for online donations. Please check back regularly.
We accept only "Option 3" sponsorship applications. This refers to the Canadian Government process under which refugees complete all necessary forms [the IMM0008 application and its schedules 1 and 2] and submit them to us for starting the process of sponsorship. Forms must be completed fully, neatly, and accurately. We assess the strength and validity of the refugee claim before proceeding with the sponsorship. Family-Links must also provide us with an explanation of why they are proposing a sponsorship, and as Guarantors must sign an agreement with us that they will provide the necessary resettlement support. The initial meetings between us and the Family-Link to initiate a sponsorship will take up to two hours; additional sponsorships add to this time, so please allow sufficient time for these appointed meetings in your schedule.
Our Board of Directors must first approve all sponsorships that are submitted to Canada Immigration. The Board meets once a month. Each sponsorship individually requires written permission from either the Anglican Diocese of Rupert's Land or the Roman Catholic Archiepiscopal Corporation of Winnipeg under whose authority we sponsor. All Family-Linked sponsorships are submitted for registration under the Winnipeg Private Refugee Sponsorship Assurance Program. This program [funded for the Manitoba Refugee Sponsors by the City of Winnipeg] provides financial back-up for sponsorships. We are not allowed to submit to Canada Immigration any Family-Linked sponsorship coming from Winnipeg that hasn't been thus registered. The Family-Link must reside in Manitoba. This process takes time and the work associated with it in our office is extensive; please understand this. It could take from one to three months from the time we receive a fully-completed Family-Linked application before it reaches Canada Immigration.
The in-Canada processing by Canada Immigration and then the overseas processing by Canada's posts abroad can take from several months to several years. We have sponsored refugees that have arrived in less than one year, and we have those who take as long as eight years to arrive. Cases processed through the post in Nairobi, Kenya or Islamabad, Pakistan, are particularly slow because of the huge volume of work and the case backlogs there. The Nairobi office handles cases in Djibouti, Ethiopia, Uganda and elsewhere-in addition to those in Kenya.Please understand that there is nothing we can do to speed up processing of any case, regardless of its urgent circumstances.
Please understand that Canada imposes a quota on the number of refugees admitted to Canada each year under the Private Sponsorship of Refugees Program. Canada's announced "target" is now about 6,000. While this is a dramatic increase over that of just a few years ago, it does not begin to match the demand from Canadians to bring in their refugee relatives. Refugee advocates have tried for years to have the quota increased even more, without success. The quota restricts the speed of processing sponsorship applications in some posts.
We depend on our Family-Links and the refugees sponsored themselves to keep our files up to date by letting us know when an address or telephone number or email address changes [of either the refugee or the Family-Link], or when a sponsored refugee gets married, has a baby, returns home, dies – in other words, whenever there is a material change in the overseas circumstances that must be communicated to Canada Immigration;
Refugees have been arriving in Canada who did not declare a recent marriage or birth on their immigration papers, assuming incorrectly that these people can be sponsored later. This is a disaster under Canada's new immigration rules, because the wife or child are now "excluded dependents" and can never be brought here without special permission from the Minister of Immigration - and that is very hard to get and can be costly. Hospitality House does not have time to do this work. Family-Links must be sure that their sponsored refugees understand the extreme importance of declaring all dependents on the IMM0008, whether with them at the time or not, if they ever wish to get them into Canada in the future;
Please resist the temptation to make enquiries of the Hospitality House office about how a file is progressing overseas. We don't know. We have no window on the processing stream overseas. The only way we can find out is by writing to Canada Immigration in Winnipeg, and they have only a limited window themselves on overseas processing; so to get definitive answers they must in turn write to the overseas post. All this takes time away from the vital work of processing refugees, and actually slows down the process. The process can be very slow, and is at times unfathomable. Please be patient.
Some cases will be rejected by Canada's interviewing officers overseas, usually for reasons of credibility. Perhaps the answers given at interview don't match the answers on the IMM0008 form. There is no easy or automatic appeal process in Canada's laws or regulations. Hospitality House does not do appeals of rejected cases because the time these can take would prevent us from starting several new sponsorships or managing the files we already have. Welcome Place has some paralegal assistance that might be able to help with an appeal, or we can refer the case to a lawyer if the family-link is prepared to undertake the considerable cost;
Hospitality House is concerned for the good resettlement in Canada of refugees it has sponsored, but must depend in most cases on the Family-Links for seeing that this happens. During that first year in Canada we plan to follow up with the refugee to see how he or she is doing. We help when asked and as we are able. With our limited capacity, however, our primary focus must be on rescuing and landing the refugees here;
We rely on God's providence, and the strength that comes from believing wholeheartedly that we are doing God's work. We commend this wisdom to all.