4.2 Changes in the Sponsorship Agreement


Users of this online learning resource are responsible for connecting with government and local organizations to ensure access to relevant information on refugee sponsorship in their community.



If the refugee newcomer moves away



Sponsored refugee newcomers may decide to move to a different community after their arrival. This is typically known as secondary migration. This may happen for a number of reasons, which could include:

  • being closer to a friend or relative; 
  • lowering their cost of living; or 
  • improved job prospects. 

This does not make your efforts in sponsorship a  failure. Reminding yourself and your group of the main purposes of sponsorship, which is providing refugees with an opportunity to safely rebuild their lives in safety and dignity, is a valuable exercise. In fact, sponsorship groups have often helped refugee newcomers become self-sufficient and empowered enough to move to a different community. Many sponsorship groups remain in contact, provide emotional support, and visit (and/or receive visits from) refugee newcomers. 

Of course, secondary migration may also be a result of issues between refugee newcomers and the sponsorship group; this could include the group not providing support or overstepping boundaries.

Source: UNHCR

Potential Decisions

You may also need to decide whether, and in what way, your sponsorship group will continue supporting the refugee newcomers after they have moved to another community within the sponsorship period. Of course, this would also be dependent on the requirements of the program in your country. A few examples of potential decisions might include:

  • Your group’s commitments end because the refugee newcomers are able to support themselves in the new community for the remainder of the sponsorship period;
  • Your group continues to support financially, but is not able to provide other support due to distance;
  • Your group transfers the sponsorship to a group in the new community; or
  • Your group is unable to offer financial and settlement support to the family in their new community and cannot transfer the sponsorship to a new group, regardless of the family’s need.



Secondary Migration Scenario



You and your group are supporting Alieu, Fatou, and their two children while they adapt to the new community. 

Two weeks ago, Alieu asked you if you could provide him and Fatou with cars so it would be easier to take the children to school and find jobs on the outskirts of the city. You sympathized with Alieu, and explained your group cannot provide cars. You offered to develop a plan to use the transit system.  Shortly afterwards, Alieu was texting and calling every group member for rides to various places. Some members agreed and others did not. 

Today, Alieu sends a text to your sponsorship group chat informing them that he greatly appreciates all of the help you have provided, but he has decided to relocate his family to another city.


Managing Expectations is important in this scenario, why?


As a group, how would you address this scenario?



Check In: How would you feel in this scenario?

This scenario might be upsetting for some sponsorship group members to consider, as sponsors may have worked extremely hard to meet the needs of refugee newcomers. It is important to openly discuss these feelings, as this is an important way of acknowledging that sponsorship is about creating relationships that affect all parties.



If the sponsorship ‘breaks down’



Sponsorship breakdown is when the sponsorship group is unable or unwilling to provide further support to refugee newcomers before the sponsorship period has ended. 

As with secondary migration, the reasons may or may not be of the sponsorship group’s doing. A few examples of possible sources of a breakdown may include:

  • Disagreements breaking down the relationship between sponsorship group and refugee newcomers; and/or 
  • The group’s inability to continue to provide support for unforeseen reasons (e.g. group size changes drastically).

Resolving disputes

Depending on the source of a dispute, a few options that your sponsorship group may find useful include:

  • Communicating about the issue again and/or mediation by a neutral third party; 
  • Revisiting the assertive communication techniques for conflict resolution and considering power; and/or
  • Developing and revisiting communication strategies alongside the refugee newcomers.



Formalizing or Reporting the Change



If, despite your best efforts, the sponsorship breaks down or the refugee newcomers move to another community, you may need to report it to the institution responsible for the refugee sponsorship program.

Regardless of the likelihood of sponsorship agreement changes, your group may find it useful to research what you would need to do should such changes happen. For instance, there may or may not be financial obligations linked to a sponsorship change.

Overall, remember that the main purpose of sponsorship is to provide protection to refugees, and do your best to do your best to prepare, be open to learning, and support them to work toward their own goals.



Check In: Changes in the Sponsorship Agreement



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