Ongoing Project:

Early Integration Trajectories of Syrian Refugees in Canada

Researchers: Thomas Soehl1, Dietlind Stolle1, Enrico del Castello2, Claudi Diehl3, Howard Ramos4, and Ian Van Haren1
Affiliation: McGill University1, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC)2, Universität Konstanz3, and Western University4
Research Partner: IRCC
Keywords: refugees, Syrian, privately sponsored refugees (PSRs), government assisted refugees (GARs), integration, settlement support, families. longitudinal survey


Objective: This is a five-year longitudinal study that examines the integration trajectories of Syrian refugees, including the obstacles they face and the resources they mobilize. The study will pay particular attention to the interplay between background characteristics, institutional, social and organizational experiences as well as family dynamics in the early phase of settlement.

This study will examine the different integration trajectories between publicly and privately sponsored refugees to better understand how their different background and experiences shape their integration. Uniquely, this study will collect data that links private sponsors to refugees in order to assess how sponsor characteristics and practices shape integration outcomes and how sponsor-refugee relations develop over time. By sampling the family unit instead of individual refugees, this study allows inter-generational dynamics of integration to be captured.

Justification: As Canada welcomes more refugees, this study looks at how newcomers become members of Canadian society and the Canadian polity. It is critical to have a rigorous understanding of the early integration trajectories of refugee populations, the obstacles they face and the resources they mobilize.

Practical goal: This study will shed new light on the role of social networks, family dynamics, and private sponsorships for integration outcomes, as well as the influence of pre-migration experiences and the persistence of home-country and diaspora connections, to inform the successful integration of refugees.

Primary audience: policy makers, civil society groups, service providers, and potential refugee sponsors


In collaboration with IRCC and settlement provider and refugee sponsorship organizations, this study will conduct a longitudinal survey of Syrian refugees across a range of contexts in Canada. Syrian refugees will be interviewed in early 2019 and a follow-up survey will be conducted 3 years later when they have, to varying degrees, mastered the initial adjustment to life in Canada.

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