The International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP) provides free legal help to some refugees and displaced people.
- IRAP helps some people find services and prepare refugee and visa applications.
- IRAP is not part of any government, IOM, or UNHCR.
- IRAP cannot grant refugee status or visas or speed up cases.
- IRAP cannot provide financial help, find or pay for housing, or find jobs.
- All of IRAP’s help is free. No one affiliated with IRAP has the right to ask you for money or any other service.
IRAP decides to help people based on their need and eligibility for immigration status. IRAP does not decide to help people based on any other social or political or religious criteria.
This website provides general information about legal processes available to some refugees. It is not meant as legal advice for individual applications.
If you are in a refugee emergency, we recommend that you contact the UNHCR office in the country where you live .
This guide provides information for Iraqis who are applying through the Direct Access Program (DAP) for refugee resettlement. It gives information about providing information to prove eligible employment. IRAP’s guide on applying for DAP is here.
This guide is not for:
- Iraqis who are applying for DAP based on an approved I-130. IRAP's guide for DAP based on an I-130 is here.
- Iraqis who are applying for the Iraqi SIV or the 1059 SIV program. They should refer to IRAP’s SIV guide here.
Most people applying for DAP submit their application to the International Organization for Migration (IOM). This guide mentions IOM several times. If you are in Lebanon, you should contact ICMC instead of IOM. You can find contact information for IOM and ICMC here.
Who is eligible to apply for DAP?
Iraqi nationals are eligible to apply for DAP based on their employment if they worked:
- For the U.S. government in Iraq
- As an interpreter or translator with Multi-National Forces in Iraq
- With an organization that received U.S. government funding
- For a U.S.-based media organization
- For a U.S.-based nongovernmental organization (NGO)
The spouse, child, parents, and siblings of someone listed above are also eligible. If your relative had qualifying work, you can apply. You should provide information about your relative’s work. You will need to prove that your relative had eligible work. You will also have to prove that you are related to them.
How do I prove my employment to be eligible for DAP?
To show that you are eligible for DAP, you should submit these kinds of evidence:
Proof that you were employed by your company or organization. Evidence showing this might include:
- A copy of your badge or your badge number.
- A letter from your employer verifying your employment.
- A letter of recommendation from a supervisor.
Proof that the organization or company you worked for received U.S. government funding. Evidence showing this might include:
- A letter from your employer verifying your employment. This letter can prove funding if it lists one or more U.S. government contracts.
- A contract number or a copy of a contract between your employer and the U.S. government.
- Note: You should not need to provide evidence of U.S. government funding if you worked directly for the U.S. government, Multi-National Forces, or for a U.S.-based media organization or nongovernmental organization.
The Direct Access Program does not require any specific document. However, you should submit all of the documents that you have from your work. The rest of this guide gives information on how you can find some of these documents if you do not have them.
Employment verification and recommendation letters
If you do not have a letter from your employer or supervisor, or if IOM asks you for a new letter, use this information to try to contact your employer or supervisor.
Reaching out to find your supervisor or employer
- Reach out to any of your supervisors whose names you know. The more people you contact, the more likely you are to get a positive response.
- Reach out in as many ways as possible.
- Some supervisors have common names (for example, a common first and last name in the U.S. is Mike Johnson. Many people would have this name). You might find a profile on social media with the same name. You can include a sentence saying, “I am hoping that you are the Mike Johnson who used to supervise me.”
- If the supervisor has a common name, look at pictures of your supervisor, which can help to identify the supervisor on LinkedIn.
These are websites that can be helpful in searching for supervisors:
- LinkedIn: Many supervisors are on LinkedIn. Search in the top search bar for your supervisor’s name. Then, on the left side of the screen, you can filter results. Filter using the ‘current employer’ or ‘former employer’ filter.
- Facebook: You can reach out and communicate with potential supervisors and employers on Facebook. Search the name and filter for the individual’s employment. This can be useful, especially with less common names.
- Google: Search for your supervisor’s name and their company or military branch. This might help you find out where the supervisor is currently working or living. You might find their current email address or phone number.
- Other: Some people have been successful in contacting former supervisors on other locations like Instagram, Twitter, or Whatsapp.
How to Email Your Former Supervisor or Employer
- If your supervisor or employer has a military or academic title, address them by the title in your initial outreach for assistance. Otherwise, use “Ms.” or “Mr.”
- Give your name. If you had an English nickname, tell your supervisor or employer your nickname. They might remember your nickname more than your legal name.
- Give the dates and location that you worked with the supervisor or employer.
- Include a picture of you. If you have one, include a photo of you with the supervisor or other U.S. military or government employee.
- Explain that you are applying to move to the U.S. through the Direct Access Program. Explain any danger that you have faced because of your work.
- Explain that you need confirmation of your work for your application.
- If you have an old letter from them, attach that letter in your email.
- Ask them to write a new letter and to submit it to IOM or ICMC. Ask them to include:
- Your case number
- Your date of birth
- Your full name
- Their work email
- The dates that they supervised you
- Their job title when they supervised you
- Their official email when they supervised you
- Their current contact information.
- Thank them for considering your request. Be respectful, polite, and patient. It is normal for supervisors to be cautious.
Proof of funding from the U.S. government for your work
If you worked for a company that received funding from the U.S. government, it may be helpful to submit evidence of that funding. The U.S. government distributes funding to companies and organizations through contracts, grants, or cooperative agreements.
You should not need to provide evidence of U.S. government funding if you worked directly for the U.S. government, Multi-National Forces, a U.S.-based media organization or nongovernmental organization.
Ways that you can prove that your employer had U.S. government funding:
- If you have a letter from your employer verifying your work, it may include a contract number. Provide that letter with your application.
- If you are in touch with your employer or supervisor, you could ask them if they have copies of contracts or contract numbers. Information on how you can contact your employer or supervisor is above.
- You can search for evidence of a contract between your employer and the U.S. government. Information on how to do that is below.
Searching for evidence of a contract between your employer and the U.S. government
You can look for contracts between your employer and the U.S. government in these ways:
In the field “ezSearch,” enter your company’s name, then a space, then this phrase:
- Make sure that you enter this exactly. This will make sure that the results return only contracts that funded work in Iraq for your employer.
Look for contracts that overlapped with your time of employment.
- Under “Sort By” on the right hand side, click “Date Signed.”
- Now look through the contracts for those signed before or during your work.
- If you find a contract that overlaps with your work, you can click “View” to see more information and to print a page.
- Send IOM (or ICMC if you are in Lebanon) the number “Referenced IDV,” which is the contract number.
- Print a copy of the contract information as a PDF and send that to IOM or ICMC as well.
- You can also try searching another database of U.S. government contracts on usaspending.gov.
- In the field “ezSearch,” enter your company’s name, then a space, then this phrase:
- You can search on IRAP’s database of U.S. government contracts in Iraq here if you know a contract number.
- Remember that the dates listed are the start date and end date for the contract.
- This database does not include every contract. Many companies had subcontracts. Unfortunately, this database does not include subcontracts.
- If you are not sure if your company had a contract with the U.S. government, or you cannot find proof of U.S. government funding, you can still apply to DAP. Submit all of the information and evidence that you do have.
Once you have submitted information to IOM or ICMC, you might have a very long wait. Many people have waited for several years. You can email IOM or ICMC to ask for updates and to ask if they need more information about your situation.