• #Integration

In what ways can the EU foster integration through private sponsorship programmes? 

Theodore Poumpalov
/ - /
Mário André
Refugees Support Platform - Portugal - Santa Casa da Misericórdia de Lisboa
Andrea Ciribuco
Postdoctoral Researcher - NUI Galway

Private sponsorship programmes (PSPs) are alternative legal pathways of migration, which include presence of private engagement as well as the governmental involvement. They are aimed at supporting migrants’ arrival and integration into the destination society and have recently been implemented in different ways across the European Union. Our discussion brief underlines that PSPs can:

- represent a safe and legal alternative for people in need of international protection.

- if used extensively, allow for a more effective management of migration flows to Europe.

- facilitate inclusion of beneficiaries in the destination country.


As our expert brief mapping the existing research in this field shows, the effectiveness, fairness and in general integration outcomes of existing alternative channels are disputed. In our expert interview, Prof. Birgit Glorius and Prof. Dr Hannes Schammann highlight that:

- it is urgent to provide EU-level political and structural support to local communities/organizations/municipalities willing to take active roles for the integration of private sponsorship or humanitarian visa arrivals.

- more discretionary power and legal flexibility at the local and regional level of governance are key for better cooperation across state institutions and civil society actors.


Key issues and controversies further highlighted in the discussion brief include:

- absence of an established harmonized EU level procedure in selection of beneficiaries

- short duration of existing programmes

- lack of clarity concerning the length and kind of support provided

- securing government involvement and commitment

- monitoring and evaluation


This online consultation aims to discuss with national stakeholders, practitioners, policy actors and researchers the following three topics: 


Topic 1: Needs for better support. 

- What are the critical factors to be addressed to facilitate integration of newcomers via PSP?

- What do local and national actors need to ensure the smooth transition and integration of newcomers via those pathways?


Topic 2: Policy actions to ensure that needs are addressed.

- What are the measures that have been implemented to fulfil these needs in your national/local context?

- What other possible measures could be implemented to fulfil these needs? Please also fill out a quick scoring survey on different options.


Topic 3:The role of the EU and other actors

- What role could the EU play in fostering good practices and empowering local and national stakeholders in PSP adoption and implementation processes? 

- Who are the other key institutions and actors that are or should be involved in PSPs in your national/local context? How can they help ensure the successful integration of newcomers via PSPs? Please also fill out a quick scoring survey on the role of different actors.


We invite you all to share your views, experiences and examples on PSP or related alternative legal channels and integration programmes in your country of work/residence.


To join the discussion, please first log in to the platform in the top right corner. 


When you leave a message, please note in the subject line the topic you are responding to in order to ensure a more interactive dialogue between commentators. Example: “Topic 3: school boards play more important role than…”


Please scroll down to read and reply to previous comments!

Evita Armouti
Red Cross EU
05.07.2019 17:18

Actions needed on EU and Member States level

Topic 3: Agreements between national authorities and sponsors must be in place to clarify the respective roles and responsibilities. Sponsors should not have the sole responsibility for supporting newcomers. It should be ensured that national authorities do not relinquish their responsibility in supporting the integration of newcomers.

The EU should adopt measures to avoid the differentiation of statuses of protection seekers entering through resettlement, private sponsorship or other pathways or differential treatment based on country of origin, status of refugee claim, and mode of arrival.
Through its wider financial and legislative influence, as well as through the core values of tolerance and unity it promotes, the EU also has a major role to play in making Europe a more inclusive continent overall.

All actors should be involved in the integration process and especially local communities. The EU could support networking and exchange of practices among stakeholders involved in the implementation of PSP. Responsibility for integration rests not with one particular group but rather with a multitude of stakeholders - the refugees themselves, the receiving government, institutions, civil society organisations and communities, to name a few.

Experience shows how a good start in the early days following arrival is an important investment for the future. Yet, social inclusion interventions for migrants remain relevant well beyond the arrival phase, as the social inclusion process is a long-term one.
Some of the obstacles to social inclusion of refugees relate to discriminatory attitudes, stereotypes, and xenophobia. In this context, it is important to offer activities that target not only the refugee population but also the local population with the objective of changing attitudes among host societies. To this end, promoting refugees’ participation in local communities at both political and societal levels is instrumental to the social inclusion of migrants.

Refugees should be supported throughout the social inclusion process, but they must also be given the opportunities and means to participate and contribute through, for example, having a job or volunteering.

20.08.2019 15:32

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Evita Armouti
Red Cross EU
05.07.2019 17:15

In what ways can the EU foster integration through private sponsorship programmes?

Topic 1: Several key considerations need to be taken into account when designing private sponsorship programmes conducive to integration. In the Red Cross’ viewpoint, it shall be ensured that all applicants for international protection should have access to and enjoy fully the same rights regardless of the way they have arrived, which may be spontaneously or through resettlement, PSP or any other legal avenue.

Protection seekers entering through PSP should have access to a secure residence status and to family reunification procedure as these are two key elements which support social inclusion. They shall be subject to the same EU legal framework governing the rights, entitlements and responsibilities of all applicants as soon as they arrive in the destination country.
Type of residence status granted as well as limited or no access to family reunification procedure can be a source of insecurity and may turn into post-migration stressors with serious implications on the mental health of refugees, and subsequently hinder their integration.

In the process of integration, it is necessary that among concerned actors, i.e. the sponsors, the local and the national authorities, channels for networking, coordination and regular communication must be established and preserved.

21.06.2019 10:19

Topic 3: EU should secure dedicated funding to PSP under AMF

One way for the EU to support to national and local stakeholders in promoting the launch and continuation private sponsorship programmes is through funding. In this regard, in the context of ongoing negotiations on the next Multi Annual Framework adequate support to resettlement and private sponsorship programmes should be secured through dedicated funding in the proposed AMF. It is also of crucial importance for the EU to ensure that support to private sponsorship does not substitute national resettlement programmes but comes in addition to national commitments.

In rolling out private sponsorship programmes, States must establish a solid legal framework for their implementation. This implies the establishment of formal agreements between governments and sponsors, clearly defining the respective responsibilities of the state and the sponsors concerned and limiting the sponsor’s responsibilities in time. Refugees and communities should receive guidance and support throughout the process.