Private sponsorship can offer organizations, companies, and philanthropies the opportunity to support the resettlement of refugees. With additional resources and volunteer capacity, countries can both resettle additional refugees and improve the resettlement and integration process that a refugee experiences on arrival. Moreover, communities in which refugees are resettled benefit from more direct involvement in welcoming their new neighbors.
IRAP has published several papers on private sponsorship: one on private sponsorship in the United States, another on models on private sponsorship globally, and most recently a paper outlining recommendations for a pilot private sponsorship program in the United States.
In addition to helping clients navigate private sponsorship pathways to other countries through our legal casework, IRAP’s Policy Department has been working with partner organizations to explore how sponsorship can be developed in the United States — including through the Fall 2021 launch of the Sponsor Circles Program for Afghan humanitarian parolees — and has made technical recommendations to the U.S. government as it designed a private sponsorship pilot program.
In January 2023, the United States launched the Welcome Corps Program, which allows groups of Americans to apply to sponsor a refugee individual or family coming to the United States. Currently, private sponsor groups can only apply to be matched with a refugee case already referred to and in processing for the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program. Later this year, the U.S. government will launch another component of the program that allows private sponsor groups to “identify” a particular refugee(s) they would like to sponsor, but that option is not yet available. For more information on the U.S. Welcome Corps Program for the private sponsorship of refugees, please see https://welcomecorps.org/.
Bader* is a transgender Jordanian man who faced years of persecution and discrimination because of his gender identity. He fled to Lebanon to register as a refugee with UNHCR in hopes of finding safety. However, as a transgender man living in Beirut with an ID that did not match his gender expression, Bader was highly vulnerable with an urgent need for resettlement to a safe, third country. Yet, because he had not been displaced from Syria or Iraq, Bader’s case was not considered high priority and UNHCR warned him that his chances of being resettled were low. Faced with this life-threatening obstacle, IRAP helped to secure safe housing for Bader in Beirut while his legal team worked to pursue an alternative pathway to resettlement. With IRAP ’s help, and after two long years in limbo, Bader was finally resettled through a private sponsorship program in Canada, where he is now able to live freely and without fear.
Read Bader's Guest Blog:
TAKE ACTION: Be a welcoming force—sponsor a refugee today!
We have an exciting opportunity for you to make a tangible difference in the lives of refugees. By becoming a private sponsor, you will play a vital role in providing critical initial welcoming support to refugees. Private Sponsor Groups (PSGs) are matched with a refugee newcomer family, who they welcome by securing and preparing initial housing, greeting refugee newcomers at the airport, enrolling children in school, and helping adults to find employment. By joining or forming a PSG, you will be creating a bridge of understanding and compassion, demonstrating that our communities are places of welcome, refuge, and opportunity.
Advocacy Groups Celebrate State Department’s Steps to Launch Private Sponsorship of Refugees Later This Year
The International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP), the Niskanen Center, and the Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration laud DOS’s steps to launch a private sponsorship program that will add much-needed capacity to existing U.S. refugee resettlement infrastructure.
Advocacy Groups Release Recommendations for Upcoming Private Sponsorship Program for Refugees
As the U.S. Department of State draws closer to launching a private sponsorship pilot program for refugees, the International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP), Amnesty International USA (AIUSA), the Community Sponsorship Hub (CSH), and the Niskanen Center offer recommendations for the program’s design.