Blending, Bargaining, and Burden-Sharing: Canada’s Resettlement Programs

  • Shauna Labman
  • Madison Pearlman


In this piece, we offer a comment on the most recent addition to the Canadian resettlement scheme, the Blended Visa Office-Referred (BVOR) program. The BVOR program was introduced in 2013 as a modified version of private sponsorship and middle ground between sponsorship and government-assisted resettlement. While the program was met with criticism and skepticism that the government was off-loading more resettlement responsibility to private sponsors, the Syrian crisis significantly impacted and changed the Canadian resettlement landscape. This comment outlines the program and surveys the benefits and concerns with such a model. BVOR is examined in relation to both private and government resettlement, in the current moment of Syrian resettlement, and in comparison to the historical use of private sponsorship for Indochinese refugees. Through an examination of the challenges BVOR is intended to address and the division of public and private responsibility, the comment serves to assess the direction of Canada’s future resettlement.


Refugees Resettlement Private sponsorship Blended Visa Office-Referred Government-assisted refugees program Indochinese refugees Syrian refugee crisis 


  1. Adelman, H. Changes in policy: background on the federal government decision to alter its position with respect to the Indochinese refugees in Adelman (ed.) (1980) The Indochinese Refugee Movement: The Canadian Experience: Proceedings from a Conference in Toronto, October 19. 20, 21, 1979. Toronto: Operation Lifeline.Google Scholar
  2. Andrew-Gee, E. (2016) Replacement families raise new problem: offer puts private sponsors in a bind: choose whether to sever ties with delayed refugees and take a new group, or keep waiting. The Globe and Mail, A6.Google Scholar
  3. Anker, D., et al. (1998). Crisis and cure: a reply to Hathaway/Neve and Schuck. Harvard Human Rights Journal, 11(1), 295.Google Scholar
  4. Axworthy, L. (2016) Canadian model could help refugee crisis Winnipeg Free Press. Accessed 14 January 2017.
  5. Canadian Council for Refugees. (2016a) Statement on blended visa office referred Refugees. Accessed 13 January 2017.
  6. Canadian Council for Refugees (2016b) 2017 Immigration levels—comments Accessed 13 January 2017.
  7. Canadian Press (2016). Trudeau tells UN Conference Canada not finished helping syrian refugees. CTV News. Accessed 14 January 2017.
  8. Chapman, A. (2014) Private sponsorship and public policy: citizens for public justice report Retrieved July 2016, from
  9. Citizenship and Immigration Canada (2013) Facts and figures 2014—immigration overview: permanent residents. Accessed 13 January 2017.
  10. Citizenship and Immigration Canada A (2016a) Notice: supplementary information 2016 immigration levels plan. Accessed 14 January 2017.
  11. Citizenship and Immigration Canada (2016b) Notice—#WelcomeRefugees: processing privately sponsored Syrian refugee applications. Accessed 13 January 2017.
  12. Citizenship and Immigration Canada (2016c) Notice—supplementary information 2017 immigration levels plan. Accessed 14 January 13, 2017.
  13. Citizenship and Immigration Canada (2016d) Providing timely protection for privately sponsored refugees. Accessed 14 January 2017.
  14. Citizenship and Immigration Canada (2016e) Evaluation of the resettlement programs (GAR, PSR, BVOR, RAP). Accessed 14 January 2017.
  15. Citizenship and Immigration Canada (2017) Notice—supplementary information 2018–2020 Immigration Levels Plan. Accessed 23 November 2017.
  16. Citizenship and Immigration Canada (2017b) #WelcomeRefugees: key figures. Accessed 23 November 2017.
  17. Citizenship and Immigration Canada (2017c) Private sponsorship of refugees (PRS) application guide (IMM 5413). Accessed 6 December 2017.
  18. Cober Bauman, R. (2016) Executive Director, MCC Ontario, to Member of Parliament. Accessed 14 January 2017.
  19. Denton, T.R. (2011) Relational migration and refugee policy. Conference paper presented at 2011 National Metropolis Conference, Vancouver, British Columbia.Google Scholar
  20. Denton, T. (2016) Sidestepping the pathway: promise and failure in immigration (and refugee) policy Accessed 13 January 2017.
  21. Employment and Immigration Canada (1982) Indochinese refugees: the Canadian response, 1979 and 1980. Ottawa: Minister of Supply and Services Canada.Google Scholar
  22. Employment and Immigration Canada (1992). Private sponsorship of refugee program Refuge 12(2).Google Scholar
  23. Government of Canada (2015) Canada offers leadership on the Syrian refugee crisis. Accessed 13 January 2017.
  24. Government of Canada (2016). Canada, UNHCR, & the open society foundations seek to increase refugee resettlement through private sponsorship. Accessed 14 January 2017.
  25. Gowan, D. (2015) Region responding to Syrian refugee crisis, Telegraph-Journal B.1.Google Scholar
  26. Kelley, N., & Trebilcock, M. J. (1998). The making of the mosaic: a history of Canadian immigration policy. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.Google Scholar
  27. Keung, N. (2017) Refugee sponsorship groups urge Ottawa to clear backlog, The Toronto Star.
  28. Keung, N. (2016), Syrian boy’s death reawakens Canadian spirit of giving, The Toronto Star. Accessed 13 January, 2017.
  29. Keung, N. (2016b) Ottawa offers trade-in for refugee sponsors caught in delays, The Toronto Star Accessed 14 January 2017.
  30. Kantor, J & Einhorn, C. (2016) What does it mean to help one family? The New York Times. Accessed 14 January 2017.
  31. Labman, S. (2016). Private sponsorship: Complement or conflicting interests? Refuge, 32(2), 67–80.Google Scholar
  32. Markan, Z. (2016), Nova Scotia refugee sponsorship groups wait for placements, CBC News. Google Scholar
  33. McPhail, C. (2016) Church-sponsored refugee family arrives in Rothesay, Telegraph-Journal B.5.Google Scholar
  34. Refugee Sponsorship Training Program Information Bulletin (2016). RSTP Bulletin Accessed 13 January 2017.
  35. Refugee Sponsorship Training Program (2016). Syrian BVOR Info Sheet Accessed 14 January 2017.
  36. Sponsors willing to fund resettlement ask liberals to reconsider cuts, caps (2016) Chronicle- Herald A6.Google Scholar
  37. United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (2016a), UNHCR Projected Global Resettlement Needs 2017. 22nd Annual Tripartite Consultations on Resettlement, Geneva: 13–15 June 2016 at 54–56, online: Accessed January 13 2017.
  38. United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (2016b) Canada, UNHCR, and Open Society Foundations Seek to Increase Refuge Resettlement through Private Sponsorship. online: Accessed 14 January 2017.
  39. Zilio, M. (2016). Liberals reach resettlement goal as 25,000th refugee arrives in Canada. The Globe and Mail. Accessed 13 January 2017.
  40. Zilio, M. (2017) Exit-visa issue prevents Canada from resettling Rohingya refugees: Hussen. The Globe and Mail. & Accessed 23 November 2017.
  41. Zyfi, J. (2016). Syrian refugee resettlement in Canada: an auto-ethnographic account of sponsorship. Canadian Association for Refugee and Forced Migration Studies Working Paper No 2016/2.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of Manitoba, Faculty of LawWinnipegCanada

Personalised recommendations