First charter flight of privately sponsored Afghan refugees arrives in Canada

Canada welcomes Afghan refugees

“For those newly arrived in our big, cold country, private sponsors offer a warm welcome. It’s no wonder that many refugees think of their sponsors as family. As we welcome Afghan refugees, private sponsors are essential in helping vulnerable newcomers thrive in their new communities. I look forward to welcoming many more new arrivals in the weeks and months to come.” Sean Fraser, The Honourable Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship

December 2, 2021—Toronto, Ontario—As Canada welcomes Afghan refugees, private sponsors across the country are stepping up. A significant number of Afghan nationals will be arriving as privately sponsored refugees, sponsored by individuals, groups and communities across Canada.

The Honourable Sean Fraser, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, today announced the arrival of the first charter flight of privately sponsored Afghan refugees. The group of approximately 250 landed at Toronto Pearson International Airport Thursday afternoon. In the coming days, this group of refugees will be welcomed into their host sponsor communities and will quarantine with the support of their private sponsors.

According to a UNHCR report from 2019, refugees prosper and join Canada’s middle class within 5 years of their arrival. One in four earned between $40,000 and $79,999 annually, similar to what average Canadians earn. Half of refugees working are employed in high-skilled jobs, and 14.4% are self-employed or business owners.

To protect the health and safety of Canadians, these new arrivals went through a rigorous screening process, including undergoing a medical exam, being offered routine vaccinations where feasible and COVID-19 screening, prior to arriving in Canada. For those who have not yet been vaccinated against COVID-19, private sponsors have a quarantine plan in place as per current public health guidance.

These latest arrivals are part of Canada’s humanitarian commitment to welcome vulnerable Afghan refugees—including women leaders, human rights defenders, persecuted minorities, LGBTI individuals and journalists. The humanitarian program complements Canada’s special immigration program for Afghans who worked for Canada during and after our military mission. Overall, Canada has welcomed almost 4,000 Afghan refugees.

One of the pillars of Canada’s world-leading refugee system, the Private Sponsorship of Refugees Program allows Canadians to play an integral role in welcoming refugees by sponsoring them. Sponsors are crucial in setting a refugee up for success in this country. They can be groups of Canadians or organizations, including faith groups, ethno-cultural associations or settlement organizations.

Private sponsors support refugees as they settle into their new communities—from helping them find schools or open a bank account to covering expenses like food, rent or clothing. In addition to the support from sponsors, privately sponsored refugees are eligible for the same government-funded settlement services as other newcomers.

Since its inception during the Indochina refugee crisis of the late 1970s, the Private Sponsorship of Refugees Program has helped 330,000 of the world’s most vulnerable start new lives in Canada, and is now emulated by countries worldwide. Learn how you can sponsor a refugee and change someone’s life.