News
28 Jun 2020

Sonia on Sundays: The Blended Visa Office-Referred (BVOR) program

Sonia Krajewska is the ANC’s Community Settlement and Integration Counsellor (Permanent Residents).

In one of my previous articles I introduced you to Private Sponsorship of Refugees Program (PSR). Today I wanted to present more information about the BVOR program: Blended Visa Office Referred.

What is BVOR Program?
This program was created to assist with resettling refugees who are identified by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) as very vulnerable.

The Program is called ‘blended’ due to the fact that it’s a shared cost of resettlement between IRCC and Private Sponsors. 6 months of the sponsorship year is paid by the IRCC, and the remaining 6 months are paid by the Sponsor in Canada. The sponsor also needs to provide the start-up costs and any other support needed during that first year after refugee’s arrival.

How does BVOR differ from PSR?
There are two differences between the PSR program and BVOR program. The PSR is a named refugee who is known by the sponsor in Canada where the BVOR is unknown and, the BVOR program is a shared financial obligation between IRCC and the sponsor while the named sponsorship bears the full financial obligation of the sponsorship.

BVOR refugees are identified by the UNHCR, have been vetted by the Canadian Visa Office, and are travel-ready to arrive in Canada within a four- to six- month period.

Many PSR refugees are family members of newcomers who already settled in Canada in prior years, whereas BVOR sponsoring groups don’t usually know the refugees they are about to sponsor. Sponsors can connect with a Sponsorship Agreement Holder (SAH) who has access to BVOR profiles and will work together to determine the family size that they want to sponsor, maybe a family of five or a single person. Sponsors may also want to support a refugee from a specific country, or one who is a member of a designated group such as LGBTQ++.

The ANC is a SAH and has been supporting sponsorship programs for more than eight years.

Why sponsor via BVOR?
There are numerous reasons to become involved in this program. Consider the following facts:

1) There are 25.9 million refugees currently in the world. Only five per cent will get resettled. Anybody can help increase this number. You can make a difference to many lives by sponsoring refugees to Canada. Thanks to you, they will start a new life in a safe environment and once settled will contribute to the Canadian fabric.
2) BVOR refugees are identified by the UNHCR as the some of the most vulnerable populations; they live in unsafe conditions for many years, there is no hope for them to ever return to their home country and they need to be resettled.
3) It is an amazing thing to do! And the six-month financial support from IRCC gives you the opportunity to focus on making the newcomers feel welcome and to help make important connections in their new community.

Who can sponsor via BVOR?
Great question! The ANC collaborates with community groups while sponsoring BVOR refugees. A Community Sponsor is an organization, association or corporation who sponsors refugees to come to Canada. If your company, faith-based group or even a group of friends want to sponsor a refugee to Canada via BVOR program; do not hesitate to reach out to us! We will walk you through the process and be there with you every step of the way.

What do the acronyms mean?
PSR Private Sponsorship of Refugees
BVOR Blended Visa Office Referral
SAH Sponsorship Agreement Holder
UNHCR United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
IRCC Immigration, Refugees and Citzenship Canada
ANC Association for New Canadians

We want to sponsor. What responsibilities will we have?
Imagine a newcomer who lands in Newfoundland and Labrador for the first time. What can they need? There are number of things that sponsor will be responsible for:

  • Prepare for the newcomer(s) arrival
  • Pick up the newcomer(s) at the Airport upon their arrival (That is such a fun thing to do!)
  • Support the application process for MCP, SIN, and bank accounts
  • Arrange appropriate housing and other necessities (clothing, linen, kitchen appliances)
  • Collaborate with the ANC while ensuring smooth integration of a newcomer
  • Ensure that your newcomer(s) has a family doctor, is enrolled in English language classes for adults and schools for children, employment services (AXIS), and gets access to community resources
  • Provide emotional and moral support to your newcomer, doing everyday fun things with them.
  • Provide six months’ worth of financial support (additional to the six months of financial support given by the IRCC)

It is important to note that sponsorship period ends after 12 full months from the newcomer’s arrival date. You are responsible for the first year of resettlement; at the end of the year the goal is for the newcomers to live independently in the community as Permanent Residents of Canada. During that first year they will be relying on you – remember the ANC offers great Community Connections Programs that newcomers can participate in.

In essence, you will be showing them the ropes for the period of one year. You (as a group of people) need to be prepared to make this time commitment, although experience has also shown that when the sponsorship period ends the relationship flourishes and a bonding friendship has unfolded. Of course the ANC will continue to support newcomers in year two and beyond.

How does the ANC help me?
The Association for New Canadians will help and assist you tremendously.

You will work with a team of experienced professionals who will guide you through your sponsorship journey. The Community Settlement and Integration Counselor will be in touch with you regularly to monitor how your newcomer is doing and offer assistance along the way.

The ANC provides many services to support Permanent Residents:

  • Language Training and Assessment
  • Career and Employment Services
  • Settlement Orientations
  • Children and Youth Programs
  • Community Connections

You will not be on your own! We will do it together and we are quite sure you will love this journey of helping people while widening your own horizons.

We hope to hear from you soon with your interest to save a life and sponsor a refugee to Canada.

 

If you have any questions about Settlement and Integration in NL, please contact me at skrajewska@ancnl.ca