E.g., 10/16/2019
E.g., 10/16/2019

Welcoming Engagement: How Private Sponsorship Can Strengthen Refugee Resettlement in the European Union

December 2015

Welcoming Engagement: How Private Sponsorship Can Strengthen Refugee Resettlement in the European Union

Refugee resettlement, typically thought of as a government-led activity, can also be sponsored by private individuals, groups, corporations, and other entities. Over the past four decades, only a handful of private sponsorship arrangements have been put in place. Today, the growing refugee crisis focuses new attention on private sponsorship programs as a safe and orderly means for refugees to reach protection, including in the European Union. Such arrangements can also broaden the family reunification channels already open to refugees.

Amid disagreements about how to respond to the current asylum and migration crisis in the European Union, there is one point of broad consensus: There should be safe and legal ways for refugees to reach EU territory. In reality, however, there are few such possibilities. This report suggests that private sponsorship arrangements, if used transparently and in partnership with government authorities, could significantly enhance refugee resettlement opportunities in the European Union.

Could private sponsors help generate the political will needed to convince more EU countries to participate in refugee resettlement? Could they increase the intake of those countries already resettling refugees? The outpouring of public support for refugees in the late summer and fall of 2015 indicates that this could indeed be the case, and that there may be considerable scope to develop private sponsorship programs in the European Union.

The report recommends that the European Commission, the European Asylum Support Office (EASO), and nongovernmental organizations take the lead in investigating the possible benefits, and costs, of private sponsorship arrangements and launch pilot projects, with a view to making private sponsorship part of the refugee protection landscape in Europe.

Table of Contents 

I. Introduction

II. What Is the Private Sponsorship of Refugees?

III. Laying the Groundwork for a Private Sponsorship Program

A. What Are the Principal Objectives of Private Sponsorship?

B. Who Is Eligible to Sponsor?

C. What Are the Sponsor's Responsibilities?

D. How Is the Safety Net Defined?

E. Who Can Be Sponsored?

F. How Will Applicants Be Chosen?

G. What Status or Entitlements Will Sponsored Refugees Be Granted?

H. Will Sponsorship Add to Exisiting Quotas?

I. What Is the Role of UNHCR, the International Organization for Migration, and Other Partners?

J. How Will Sponsorships Be Monitored and Evaluated?

IV. Possible Goals of Private Sponsorship in the European Union

A. Channelling Public Engagement to Expand Resettlement

B. Increasing Opportunity at Reduced Cost to Government

C. Broadening Family Reunification Channels

D. Supporting Integration

E. A Viable Alternative to Irregular Movement?

V. Recommendations to the European Union, Member States, and Other Actors