Canadian Refugee Sponsorship Programs: Experience of Syrian Refugees in Alberta, Canada


The article documents the settlement experiences of Syrian refugees in a major city in Alberta, Canada, in the first year of their resettlement. It then compares them across the three government and private sponsorship programs to understand which program is most effective in helping refugees settle and integrate in Canada. The study uses face-to-face, individual interviews with refugees and private sponsors, and key informant interviews with settlement volunteers and agency representatives. The findings suggest that all three programs were largely successful in bringing in Syrian refugees, from various asylum countries in the Middle East to safe places in Canada. However, the settlement experience of refugees varied after they arrived in Canada. Challenges in learning English and finding employment were paramount among all three refugee streams. Contrary to some acdemic literature, privately sponsored refugees faced resettlement challenges similar to their counterparts in the two other sponsorship streams.

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This research was jointly funded by the Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) and Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC). The paper is based on a report submitted to SSHRC-IRCC. The research team included Seraphine Zeitouny, Pradeep Sangapala, Niger Sultana, Aref Sayegh, and Seema Al ber.

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Correspondence to Sandeep Kumar Agrawal.

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Kumar Agrawal, S. Canadian Refugee Sponsorship Programs: Experience of Syrian Refugees in Alberta, Canada. Int. Migration & Integration 20, 941–962 (2019).

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  • Syrian refugee
  • Canada
  • Alberta
  • Sponsorship