Sponsor Refugees

What's involved in being a sponsor


Sponsoring a refugee family from Syria will probably be something you will be proud of for your whole life. It will be emotionally moving and satisfying as the family makes a new life for themselves, with your assistance, in Toronto.

But it will take some of your time and money for at least the next year, and you will not be able to do it alone. You will need to work with others  to share the tasks and support the refugee family to successfully settle here. The financial obligations are easier to manage for a group of five or more people working together, as are the time commitments. We believe that after the first year you will be amazed at how much your energy and commitment has been able to accomplish and how much the refugees you have sponsored have benefited from your involvement.

Because there are many responsibilities, we believe a sponsoring group should include five or more individuals who can share the load. The two main areas that every group will be responsible for providing are time and finances.


The first month will likely be the most demanding as the family deals with the shock of coming to an entirely new place and starting a new life, but over time as their comfort level in Canada increases, the need for your support will be reduced. There are also many supports that already exist for people who arrive in Toronto as refugees and Lifeline Syria will help you make these connections.

Specifically as a sponsoring group you will do the following during the first 12 months:

  • Meet the family at the airport and escort them to accommodation
  • Assist the family in finding housing and ensuring the costs for housing are covered;
  • Make sure that the family’s needs are covered for clothing, furnishings, and food;
  • Make the necessary health connections;
  • Make sure the family is given a general orientation to the city and its transportation system;
  • Make sure that, most likely with the assistance of settlement service organizations, children register in school and parents in English as a Second Language classes;
  • Help to fill in the knowledge gaps that everyone experiences when they move to a new city or country.
  • Help members of the family find appropriate training or employment

More detailed information will be available from Lifeline Syria staff who will provide training and resources to all interested groups and individuals. They will explain the support that can be provided throughout the sponsorship process. The Refugee Sponsorship Training Program has also produced detailed information which can be found here and here.


A refugee family of four will require a minimum of about $20,000 for support for a year plus start up costs of $7000; a family of five, about $22,500 plus $7200 start up. This is roughly equivalent to Social Assistance payments. Start up money is used to buy household items, such as beds and pots and pans, and other items that the refugees might not have, such as winter clothing. Start-up costs – housing deposits, furniture, utilities, clothing etc. – are required at the beginning of a sponsorship, while housing, food and transportation will be ongoing expenses.

Smaller families involve lower costs. These costs can be reduced by donations in kind, such as by providing a place to live. A rough rule of thumb is that the cost will be equivalent to what a family on social assistance would receive. If a refugee becomes financially self-sufficient during the 12-month sponsorship period, the sponsors are not obligated to provide income support for the remainder of the sponsorship. But they must be prepared to resume assistance if the refugee ceases to be self-sufficient during their first year in Canada.

Refugees resettled in Canada are responsible for paying for their overseas medical examination, travel documents and transportation costs to Canada. They may receive a repayable loan from the government to cover these costs.

Sponsoring Groups are not responsible, unless they have co-signed loans, for any debt that a refugee incurs in Canada.

After the first twelve months, the formal sponsorship commitments end, but we hope that sponsoring groups will have created strong links with the family that will make them want to stay in touch.

Next steps

This is a brief overview of what is required to help Syrian refugees. If you are ready help a Syrian refugee family or want to learn more about what is involved in helping click here.

Be Aware of Sponsorship Fraud

Under the Private Sponsorship of Refugees Program, sponsors are responsible for assisting refugees with financial and settlement assistance. However, refugees with financial resources must contribute to their basic financial support. Where they have financial resources, they will retain the right to manage their own finances. They will not be required to submit their funds for management by sponsors.

Refugees do not have to pay for a private sponsorship. They also don’t need to prepay or repay their sponsors for care, lodging or settlement assistance. No one can promise a sponsorship application will get special treatment or guarantee it will be approved.  Please read.