ORAT (Office for Refugees)

Since its beginning in 1979, and its latter establishment as an office of the Archdiocese by His Eminence, Thomas Cardinal Collins, ORAT has been able to help thousands of refugees find a new home in Canada.  Our work saves the lives of countless innocent victims of war, violence and persecution.

While our efforts are particularly focussed on assisting Christians, who by all accounts are the most persecuted religious community in the world, and whose plight has largely been ignored by western refugee resettlement efforts, we assist all who suffer as refugees, regardless of race, creed, colour, etc.

Our efforts are guided by the exhortation of St. Paul, who wrote in his letter to the Galatians “So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all men, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.” (Gal 6:10)

What We Do

As a Sponsorship Agreement Holder (SAH), the Catholic Archdiocese of Toronto, through the Office for Refugees (ORAT), works with cosponsors and parish/religious/community organizations to sponsor refugees for resettlement to Canada. A cosponsor can be either a friend or a relative who is willing and able to secure the full financial liability needed to assist a refugee during their first year of arrival to Canada. Cosponsors also commit to welcoming and journeying with the refugee, assisting them with their integration to Canada.

We also:

  • Train, equip and guide those who wish to sponsor a refugee. We provide information sessions to guide stakeholder across the various aspects of resettlement, and we assess sponsorship applications prior to their submission to Immigration Canada;
  • Engage and guide members of Catholic parishes, religious orders and community groups who wish to play an active role in the resettlement of refugees;
  • Oversee the settlement of refugees that we have sponsored, ensuring that proper care and support is being provided to them;
  • Conduct mission trips to identify refugees who have no hope of being resettled; and
  • Advocate for the strengthening of the Private Sponsorship of Refugees program.

Who Can We Help

For Refugees:  Refugees cannot sponsor themselves.  It is the refugee’s responsibility to contact and/or find a cosponsor that is willing to help with their resettlement. If a cosponsor lives outside of the Archdiocese of Toronto (roughly the Greater Toronto Area), we suggest that the refugee, along with their cosponsor, look up a SAH in their respective community. A list of SAHs is available by clicking on the following link: http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/refugees/sponsor/list-sponsors.asp.

For Cosponsors:  Cosponsors who live in the Greater Toronto Area, and who wish to sponsor a family member in need of refugee resettlement, are encouraged to visit our website at www.orat.ca to find out if we are accepting applications.  Submission of a case requires available spots, which are provided to each SAH annually by the Ministry of Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).  The number of spots indicates the number of refugees that a SAH can submit sponsorship applications for in any given year.   Each year, ORAT runs a program for members of the General Public who wish to sponsor a family member. Program details are announced on our website in advance of the registration.  Given the high demand for refugee sponsorship, we conduct a random draw of registered cases.  Those fortunate enough to be selected are invited to attend the Introduction to Resettlement information session.  Attendance at the session marks the first step for those who wish to sponsor a refugee through ORAT.

We also have programs for specific Eastern Rite and Orthodox communities that have been particularly affected by the global refugee crisis.  These programs are restricted to active members of those communities.

Do We Only Sponsor Christians

Please note that our office assists with the sponsorship of refugees from a variety of ethnic and religious backgrounds.  A refugee does not have to be Roman Catholic or a Christian to be resettled through ORAT. However, in light of the tremendous persecution faced by Christians in many parts of the world, and the under-representation of Christian refugees in the resettlement efforts of western governments, ORAT’s efforts are particularly focused on assisting Christian refugees. To that end, it has worked closely with both Eastern Rite and Orthodox churches, whose communities have been deeply affected by the global refugee crisis. Each year, ORAT also runs a program for members of the General Public, which is intended to assist those who are not Christian to sponsor a family member.

The Cost of Sponsorship

The cost of sponsorship is determined by IRCC.  The forecasted financial liability varies by family size and assumes a two-year processing time.  Since we are not provided with any forward visibility to the cost of sponsorship, we have applied a 5% compounded annual increase to the current cost of sponsorship.  The figures are presented in the table.

2022 Sponsorship Cost Table

Additional Funds Required for Seniors

The full liability is to be deposited with the Archdiocese of Toronto prior to the submission of the case to IRCC.  These monies are held in trust for the refugee and are intended to support the refugee for a period of one year after their arrival to Canada. Please note that these monies can come from a variety of sources but they cannot come from the refugee themselves.  Should the case be withdrawn by the Principal Applicant (refugee) or be rejected by the Canadian Migration Officer, deposited monies will be returned to the cosponsor.

Other Options to Consider

Refugee resettlement is just one of many ways that refugees can immigrate to Canada.  Only a very small number of refugees immigrate to Canada under the Private Sponsorship of Refugees program. If you have a refugee recognition certificate from UNHCR, you may consider looking into the Groups of 5, or Community Sponsorship streams of the Private Sponsorship of Refugees Program.  For more information on these programs please click on the following link:   http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/refugees/sponsor/index.asp

Also, we encourage you to explore other immigration options. Please check the following IRCC link for more information about other options that are available:  http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/immigrate/index.asp

Our Accomplishments

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Our Location

830 Bathurst Street, Suite 104
Toronto, ON
M5R 3G1

t:  647-494-5419
e:  oratrefugeeoffice@archtoronto.org