Members of IRAP and UNHCR staff meet with unaccompanied refugee children in a classroom in a northern Ethiopian refugee camp. The children sit in rows of chairs facing the staff. Several of them have their hands raised.

Complementary Pathways

Complementary pathways is a term often used to refer to  legal pathways, outside of traditional resettlement, to permanent relocation that can be used by refugees and asylum seekers to reach places of safety. These pathways are described as “complementary” because they are additional to, and separate from, government-run resettlement programs. In light of shrinking resettlement quotas and other obstacles to resettlement, IRAP created a Complementary Pathways Department in 2018 that focuses primarily on family reunification work.

IRAP advocates for the development of complementary pathways and provides direct legal assistance or referrals for legal assistance in a variety of procedures, including among others:

  • Family Reunification to Belgium, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United States (in cooperation with lawyers and other organizations in some of these countries). 
  • Humanitarian Visas to the United States (Humanitarian Parole), France (“Visa au titre de l’asile”), and other countries on a case-by-case basis, allowing vulnerable refugees facing protection threats to enter these countries for purposes of claiming asylum.
  • Humanitarian Corridors to France and Italy, which allow vulnerable refugees facing protection threats to relocate through humanitarian programs run by faith-based organizations.
  • Private Sponsorship to the United States and other countries connects refugees with organizations, companies, or philanthropies that can help resettle refugees and provide them with community support upon arrival.

Client Story

Micheline lived with her husband Basel and toddler son in war-torn Syria, where they were surrounded by daily shelling and suicide attacks on their neighborhood. The security situation was so terrible that Micheline and Basel, who suffers from chronic thrombosis, could not reach the hospital. Basel’s condition worsened during that time, leading him to near death. His condition required surgery and medication that are not available in Syria and that are extremely costly in Lebanon, where they sought help. IRAP took on their case in November 2017 and successfully helped them relocate to France six months later through the Humanitarian Corridors program, an initiative organized by French and Italian faith-based organizations and local communities, in cooperation with the Italian and French governments. Micheline and her family now live safely in France where her son goes to kindergarten and is already fluent in French.

A family of three sits with their back to the camera in front of a tree-lined canal. The water is still and reflective. The father (left) and mother (right) exchange a smiling look at each other above their son's head. The father wears a blue and white checked collared shirt and the mother wears a long white sleeve shirt with a black winter vest. Her purse strap is visible and she has long, straight brown hair. The child wears a red shirt with a horizontal white stripe across the back.