Roles involved with sponsoring an asylum-seeker

Hosts – The highest commitment level and most needed role: American citizens and legal permanent residents to offer housing for a time period of at least 6 months. This is no small task, and requires a high level of commitment. That said, nothing is truer in sponsorship than the saying, ‘It takes a village.’ Community support is extremely important for the asylum-seeker to successfully navigate a complicated system. Asylum-seekers are not eligible for federal services like refugees are; therefore, they must rely on privately-funded services. Sponsors are expected to locate such services locally and build their support system for them and the asylum-seeker as well as fundraise for any additional services needed.

Parole Sponsor – Able to receive an asylum-seeker in your home for a period of six months up to three years. Asylum-seekers are not able to get a work permit until six months from the day that they submit their asylum application. The parole sponsor will also provide a parole package for submittal to Homeland Security, this includes copies of paystubs and proof of legal status. In addition, the parole sponsor will provide commissary funds while the asylum-seeker is in detention and be ready to answer their phone when the asylum-seeker calls. Once released from detention, the parole sponsor will book travel and secure any car seats that might necessary. The asylum-seeker and their children will need both emotional and financial support. This includes offering a safe home to live in, meals and basic necessities, and physical and mental healthcare. Asylum-seekers will need transportation to their immigration appointments, to the local consulate or embassy of their country of birth to obtain a current identification. Finally, the parole sponsor will be involved with helping the asylum-seeker make connections with local groups that can assist with community integration, such as learning English, learning to use public transportation, learning how the local school system works, etc.

Note: If all you can do is provide a home, that’s enough. Other sponsors can step in to take care of the day-to-day needs.

Temporary Sponsor – Able to host an asylum-seeker for a few weeks, provide parole package for submittal to Homeland Security (including copies of paystubs and proof of legal status), and provide a safe home along with all meals and basic necessities to the asylum-seeker for a few weeks. This is usually needed until a parole/long term sponsor is found or when a parole sponsor is going on vacation, travelling to work or has a family emergency.

Community Support Sponsor – Prepare and send letters of support to be included in the main parole package, welcome the asylum-seeker into the community. Community support sponsors also help recently released asylum-seekers navigate all of the complex systems that the seeker needs to work in (schools, immigration court, ICE/ISAP, finding attorneys, housing, et.) They accompany the asylum-seeker to ICE check-ins and take the asylum-seeker out for tours of the city, lunch, and entertainment. They assist with childcare needs and take the asylum-seeker shopping for basic needs of fun things like make-up and toys. They take the asylum-seeker to the local healthcare clinic and help cover the cost. They take the asylum-seeker to the religious institution of the asylum-seeker’s choice, if any, and teach the asylum-seeker English.

Professional services sponsor – Provide free services. All areas of expertise needed: lawyers, doctors, nurse practitioners, OBGYN, health clinics, pediatricians, psychologists, family therapists, dentists, dental hygienists, translators, hairdressers, manicurists, ESL teachers, art teachers, dance teachers, etc.

Commissary sponsor – Donate funds to a detainee’s commissary for phone time, person hygiene products, food, and other necessities. If detained asylum-seekers do not have funds in their commissary, it is very difficult for us to be able to communicate with them and report back to the community.

Phone call sponsor – Be available to answer an asylum-seeker’s phone calls when they are detained, including collect calls. A phone call sponsor provides emotional support over the phone, and passes messages to and from the parole sponsor. Detainees are allowed very little phone time; it is very important that this sponsor answer most calls and have pen and paper ready for messages. An ability to speak Spanish and/or access to a translator is very helpful. All calls are recorded by the detention center.

Collective support – We are stronger together. An entire community can come together to support an asylum-seeker. It takes committed individuals to join forces, brainstorm and fundraise towards the end goal.


For tips on making anti-racist work part of your support for asylum seekers, click here.

Share your home

Want to host an asylum seeker? First, check out the responsibilities at this link.

And then fill out this application.

Someone will be in touch with you soon! Thank you!


Want to work with asylum seekers? First, check out the responsibilities at this link.

And then fill out this application.

Someone will be in touch with you soon! Thank you!