Can US citizens sponsor UNHCR refugees?
April 22, 2009 4:54 PM   Subscribe

Is there a process by which a natural-born citizen of the United States can sponsor a UNHCR-referred refugee? I've read all of the refugee/asylum claim related material on the US Customs and Immigration website.

I have heard in the past of religious groups or NGOs sponsoring UNHCR refugees. They agreed to provide shelter, food and basic support to help people integrate into society and get jobs. Does anyone have information about how this works within the US system? Does having an offer of sponsorship from an individual or organization within the US increase the refugee applicant's chances of success when applying within the UNHCR/IOM system?
posted by thewalrus to Law & Government (3 answers total)
Response by poster: I think I should clarify I'm not asking abotu the US Asylum program, which is described on the USCIS website as:

"Unlike the U.S. Refugee Program, which provides protection to refugees by bringing them to the United States for resettlement, the U.S. Asylum Program provides protection to qualified applicants who are already in the United States or are seeking entry into the United States at a port of entry. Asylum-seekers may apply for asylum in the United States regardless of their countries of origin and regardless of their current immigration status. There are no quotas on the number of individuals who may be granted asylum each year."

I'm asking about sponsorship people going through the official UNHCR process from a country that is neighboring the place they were forced out of (Example, Sri Lankans filing a UNHCR refugee application from New Delhi, or Afghans living in Pakistan).
posted by thewalrus at 4:57 PM on April 22, 2009

Are you thinking of a specific individual? Or just want to help out?

The greatest chance of someone gaining refugee status is for them to have a family member who is able to sponsor them and vouch for them personally. I'm no expert, but my impression is that the second best chance is to have skilled and knowledgeable advocates from professional organizations ( is pretty active in the minneapolis are at least).

as for once refugees are already in the country, you can help with shelter and basic support anyway, without being responsible for sponsoring them.

sorry I'm not much help, but this is just from my outsider understanding of the refugee system
posted by Think_Long at 7:48 PM on April 22, 2009

Have you tried telephoning the UNHCR in New York? That could be a good first step.
posted by alms at 7:48 PM on April 22, 2009

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