Advocacy Groups Celebrate State Department’s Steps to Launch Private Sponsorship of Refugees Later This Year


May 10, 2022
CONTACT: Jose Magaña-Salgado (; IRAP: Spencer Tilger ( ; Niskanen Center: Louisa Tavlas (

New York, N.Y.— Last week, the Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration (PRM) at the U.S. Department of State (DOS) released a call for partnership proposals for a private sponsorship of refugees pilot program that will launch later this calendar 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.

PRM is seeking to partner with and fund non-governmental organizations to develop and manage new operational infrastructure to launch the pilot and then scale up the program over time. The funding opportunity announcement also outlines PRM’s tentative policy framework for the program:

  • Groups of individual U.S. citizens or permanent residents, as well as established organizations or formal entities, will be able to apply to serve as sponsors;
  • Refugees could either be identified by PRM from the existing case pipeline for the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program and “matched” with an approved private sponsor group, or identified by the sponsor group itself;
  • Sponsorship opportunities include families sponsoring relatives, institutions of higher education sponsoring refugee students, and affinity organizations sponsoring members of their community, such as LGBTQIA, religious, and veteran organizations.

IRAP, the Niskanen Center, and the Presidents’ Alliance look forward to the launch of a U.S. private sponsorship program and encourage the Biden Administration to ensure that it is robustly supported and scaled up to provide additional capacity and innovations to the existing U.S. Refugee Admissions Program.

IRAP Private Sponsorship Program Director, Elizabeth Foydel, said: “Over the past year, Americans have looked for ways to support people displaced by humanitarian crises across the globe, including those fleeing Afghanistan and Ukraine. PRM’s announcement brings us much closer to the launch of a private sponsorship program that will expand access to safety for refugees by directly engaging with communities that are eager to welcome them. While the U.S. has piloted sponsorship programs for Afghan and Ukrainian parolees, a permanent private sponsorship program will serve as a flexible and long-term mechanism for Americans to respond to emergent humanitarian crises.”

Niskanen Center Government Affairs Manager for Immigration Policy, Matthew La Corte, said: “With this announcement, the Biden administration is taking a major step towards launching full private sponsorship by requesting concept notes from potential operational partners. This exciting development brings the State Department closer to providing individuals and groups with the opportunity to directly resettle refugees. A permanent private sponsorship program will build capacity into the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program and help transform the ability for communities to welcome refugees.”

Presidents’ Alliance Initiative on U.S. Education Pathways for Refugee Students Project Manager, Laura Wagner, said: “As the global refugee crisis continues to grow, we are excited for the U.S. to embark on this essential next step to create a complementary pathway through private sponsorship. In addition to providing an opportunity for refugees to access higher education, it creates a way for colleges and universities to live out their missions, unleash the talent of refugee students, and expand the diversity and perspectives on campuses across the United States. Colleges and universities stand ready to support the U.S. promise and commitment to welcome and integrate refugees.”

Additional Information

  • Read IRAP and the Niskanen Center’s March 2022 recommendations for launching a private sponsorship pilot program for refugees HERE
  • Read the Presidents’ Alliance 2021 report about increasing U.S. education pathways for refugee students through private sponsorship HERE


The nonpartisan, nonprofit Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration brings college and university presidents and chancellors together on the immigration issues that impact higher education, our students, campuses, communities, and nation. We work to advance just, forward-looking immigration policies and practices at the federal, state, and campus levels that are consistent with our heritage as a nation of immigrants and the academic values of equity and openness. The Alliance is composed of over 500 presidents and chancellors of public and private colleges and universities, enrolling over five million students in 43 states, D.C., and Puerto Rico.