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To: <>
Subject: Extend Afghan Special Program now
Dear Minister Fraser,
I am a volunteer with Northern Lights Canada and in that role help IRCC Groups of Five develop
applications to bring refugees to Canada.
I am writing to you today regarding the Special program to sponsor Afghan refugees without refugee
status from the UNHCR or a foreign state. I am grateful that this program exists—it’s a start. 

1. I urge IRCC to remove the application quota entirely for one year. The Program’s quota system
is highly prejudicial, particularly when compared to the accommodations made for Ukrainians
in the last year. A similar program for Syrians was expanded from 1,000 to unlimited spots
from 2016 to 2017, and became an occasion for national pride and benevolence.
2. If a quota continues to be applied, IRCC must stop counting rejected applications against it, as
this practice increases the unfairness and cruelty involved.
1. Regular IRCC Group of Five program:

The technical and content requirements for Group of Five private sponsorship applications are already
demanding. The only people who can create complete applications are technically savvy, highly fluent
English writers. 

 Forms must be typed but can’t be opened unless the writer has a computer with Acrobat
software. Refugees usually do not have easy access to these technologies; at best they may have
mobile phones.
 Signatures from sponsors AND refugees can’t be added unless the writer has a computer,
specific software, and the technical expertise to use it. The alternative is to wait weeks or
months for hard-copy documents to travel back and forth between a refugee and sponsor team
by surface mail.
 The information—including lengthy narrative content—must be very detailed and clear, so
English-first volunteers review and often rewrite applications written in first person by the
 Our sponsors and Northern Lights volunteers spend many hours conferring with the applicant-
refugee so that we have captured all the details with absolute clarity.
 It can take months to raise the required funds as many sponsors cannot afford to donate.
 Sponsors must collect the identification, police checks, banking information, scans of the all
money transfers, etc., which is a process that can also take months.
 Any confusion in the application materials has the potential to trigger rejection, or a request for
clarification or missing information as much as a year after application, thus causing further
2. Specifically regarding the Special Program, all of the above applies. However, the Special Program:

 Was announced on September 17, 2022, one month before the start date of October 17, 2022
at 12:01 am. 
 The quota may have already been reached, effectively closing the program. 
o There was such a rush on applications that IRCC’s application mailbox was at capacity by
1:41 am on October 17, less than two hours after the window opened.
 Is limited to 3,000 individuals, NOT 3,000 applications, according to RSTP. An application
representing five family members is five of the 3,000. If that application is rejected for any
reason, those five spots are lost.
3. Also regarding the Special Program:

 Many Afghans in Canada rightfully saw the Special Program as an opportunity to extract their
families from violent, unpredictable situations in Afghanistan and the countries around it.
 Because of the quota of 3,000 individuals, sponsors attempted to do all the needed work in the
single month prior to October 17. This includes:
o Raising sponsorship amounts from $17,000 for an individual to $70,000 for a family
o Gathering documentation
o Developing the complex applications
o Figuring out how to meet the technical specifications required to submit the
applications by email
The structure of the Special Program is a hardship to sponsors:

 As many of the sponsors are newcomers, their English skills are mostly not at a level to be able
to provide full and clear English-language narratives, or be able to understand and meet all the
detailed requirements. 
 The low quota created pressure for sponsors to submit sub-standard applications that will
ultimately be rejected—meaning that only a fraction of the 3,000 will be accepted.
 Sponsors scrambled in the weeks prior to October 17 to collect the money required. Many
contributed all of their savings, which will need to stay in the applicant-refugee's bank account
for at least a year until IRCC begins processing or rejects the application. This is money that
newcomer-sponsors could use right now to better their own lives, or send directly to overseas
family members to use for their own survival.

Please refer to the following stories in the media, featuring Stephen Watt of Northern Lights Canada and
other advocates on this issue:

Toronto Star
Globe and Mail
Global News
Minister Fraser, I urge you to reconsider the design of the Afghan Special Program. By raising the
applicant quota and removing rejected applications from it, you will allow a more fair and equitable
opportunity for Afghans in Canada to sponsor their families to join them here. 

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