What is an ICORN writer, artist, or journalist?
An ICORN writer, artist, or journalist is someone who has been granted a residency in one of ICORN’s Cities of Refuge.
Who can apply for an ICORN residency?
Any writer, artist, or journalist who is threatened or persecuted for expressing their opinions or ideas, through professional or artistic work, is invited to apply for an ICORN residency.
ICORN uses the terms writer/artist broadly to include:
- Creative writers
(novels, poems, epics, short stories, screenplays, lyrics, television scripts, films, theatre plays, and cartoons)
- Non-fiction writers
(academic writing, essays, textbooks, journalism, prose, technical writing, and blogging)
- Editors, publishers, and translators
(photography, cartoons, painting, performance, new media art etc.)
(composers and musicians of all genres)
Since 2006, ICORN Cities of Refuge have hosted more than 200 ICORN residents, representing all of the above-mentioned categories.
Does it cost anything to apply?
No, applying for an ICORN residency is free.
What is an ICORN City of Refuge?
An ICORN City of Refuge is a city which has committed to hosting a persecuted writer, artist, or journalist under the requirements states in the ICORN Membership Agreement. (For more information, see the ICORN Cities of Refuges FAQs).
These cities are dedicated to the values of solidarity and hospitality and take concrete action to protect and promote human rights and freedom of expression.
What does an ICORN residency involve?
An ICORN residency offers a 2-year placement where you can continue to work on your projects in a safe and secure environment without the constant fear of persecution.
When you have been invited to an ICORN City of Refuge and have accepted the invitation, the city will assist you with visa and residence permits, help you to arrive safely, provide accommodation, insurances, and a monthly grant.
Each ICORN City of Refuge is managed locally, in cooperation with different institutions and organisations. Within each local context, they offer various professional and social opportunities and networks for ICORN residents.
The ICORN City of Refuge will also provide a contact person who will work together with you to ease integration in the host city. This person will facilitate possibilities for you by initiating contact with the wider public arenas in which you can promote your work and identity as a writer, artist, or journalist and/or utilise other skills.
You will also become part of the larger international ICORN network of cities, current and former ICORN residents, and organisations. We encourage you to participate in our activities.
What can I expect professionally from an ICORN residency?
Writers, artists, and journalists who apply to ICORN have very diverse backgrounds and expectations for the ICORN residency.
The ICORN City of Refuge will provide opportunities for you to continue your professional development and career. When you arrive in an ICORN City of Refuge, you will be included professionally and socially in relevant and mutually beneficial events. Your primary contact, the ICORN city coordinator, will help you facilitate opportunities in the city, nationally, and internationally, through relevant and existing networks and partnerships.
Close cooperation and dialogue and dialogue between you and your coordinator about your needs, skills, and wishes is, therefore, highly recommended. You will also find relevant opportunities through ICORN’s network of cities, and current and former residents. At the same time, many ICORN residents maintain their networks and audiences in their home countries and work actively towards them, particularly through social and digital media.
Leaving your home and taking up ICORN residency in a new country can, of course, be a challenging experience for some. Many writers, artists, and journalists come from an environment where their work is already known and appreciated, or where they have established a network of people and opportunities. In their ICORN residency, they may have to establish a social life and a career from scratch. They need to build a new network, explore new openings, potential professional, cultural, and political arenas, and to generate a new public. The language is often new and the cultural differences big.
Some of our former ICORN residents have written about their expectations of the ICORN residency and the reality of their stay. Please take some time to read them here.
Do I have any obligations as an ICORN resident?
This will vary from city to city. We encourage you to participate in activities in your ICORN City of Refuge and in the network. It is a win-win situation for both the city and the ICORN resident.
It will be both helpful and expected that you familiarise yourself with local customs, laws, and regulations.
We also anticipate that you take responsibility for your post-ICORN residency and actively look for other safety options from the very start of your residency. ICORN and the City of Refuge will, of course, help as best as we can.
Some cities have specific expectations when it comes to both practical arrangements and participation. In these cases, ICORN will take this into consideration when presenting potential residents to a City of Refuge.
Can I choose my ICORN City of Refuge?
No. It is not possible for you to make arrangements with cities prior to applying to ICORN. If your application gets approved by ICORN, we will present your profile to the ICORN Cities of Refuge which are ready to receive a new ICORN resident. It is ultimately the City of Refuges which decides who to invite.
How long does the ICORN residency last?
The conditions and requirements for ICORN residencies vary from city to city. A standard period for an ICORN residency is two years, unless otherwise agreed between the ICORN City and ICORN’s Administration Centre, the Secretariat. You will be informed of this when/if offered a residency.
Can I bring my family to an ICORN City of Refuge?
The ICORN City of Refuge invites a resident according to capacity and profile. Some cities can only invite a single person, some a couple, some a family. Writers and artists who have indicated that they wish to bring their immediate family (spouse/partner and/or children under 18) will be presented to those of the ICORN cities that can provide the necessary housing and support.
Can ICORN guarantee a residency?
ICORN cannot offer guarantees to anyone. Even if your application is approved by ICORN, you are not guaranteed a residency.
A residency offer ultimately depends on suitable space in an ICORN City of Refuge and it is up to each city to invite a resident. ICORN is currently able to offer residencies to an average of 15-20 writers, artists, and journalists annually.
The city’s invitation will be made in agreement with ICORN. We will continue to present your case to ICORN cities and work towards finding a residency. We acknowledge that this period of uncertainty and waiting can be very difficult. Please remember to keep ICORN updated on your situation.
We strongly urge you to do whatever you can at all times to seek other options to ensure your safety and not to rely solely on a residency with ICORN.
What happens after the two-year ICORN residency?
ICORN is a temporary residency programme. You are ultimately responsible for your own situation after the residency has finished. From the beginning, you should be aware of this and investigate opportunities for when the two years are up.
Some ICORN residents can return to their home countries after their residency has finished, and some cannot. ICORN communicates with the ICORN resident and the city prior, during, and after their stay and helps to look ahead to an alternative post-residency life and career. We also collaborate closely with other organisations working with people in similar situations and we are developing joint strategies to find solutions.
Please note that you should not depend on ICORN’s assistance alone but take responsibility and seek other options for safety. For more information, see our resources page.
How do I become an ICORN resident?
Please carefully read the ICORN Application Guide before applying.
How long do I have to wait for an answer to my application?
This depends on many different factors including the urgency of the case, how many other applications are being handled at any given time, how many others are waiting for a residency, how easy it is to verify your story and contact your references, etc. You should know that we rarely have the resources and capacity to immediately remove a writer, artist, or journalist from a threatening situation.
What happens if my application is approved by ICORN?
If your application is approved by ICORN, your case will be presented to those of our Cities of Refuge which are looking to invite a new writer. Please note that you cannot choose your ICORN City of Refuge. A city invites a writer, artist, or journalist according to their capacity and profile. You can, however, turn down an invitation from a city (see below for more information).
Please note that ICORN does not have the capacity to help everyone who applies for an ICORN residency.
Even if your application is approved by ICORN, you are not guaranteed a residency. A residency offer depends on an open space in an ICORN City of Refuge and it is up to each city to invite a resident. ICORN is currently able to offer residencies to an average of 15-20 writers, artists, or journalists annually.
Even if your application is approved by ICORN, we strongly urge you to continue doing whatever you can to seek other options to ensure your safety and not rely solely on a residency with ICORN.
What happens if I get an invitation from an ICORN City of Refuge?
If an ICORN City of Refuge invites you for a residency, you will receive the invitation from ICORN. You can choose to either accept or decline the offer.
- If you accept the invitation, you will be put in direct contact with an ICORN City of Refuge representative. They will help you with visa and other practical matters. The process is slightly different if you are invited to a Norwegian ICORN City of Refuge.
- If you decline an invitation from an ICORN City of Refuge, ICORN cannot guarantee that another city will invite you. Declining an offer will not, however, affect your candidacy in any way and it will not affect the way in which you are presented to other cities.
The terms and conditions for ICORN residencies vary from city to city. All applicants invited by an ICORN City of Refuge are considered ICORN writers, artists, and journalists, and are encouraged to continue their work and take part in both local and ICORN activities.
Can I decline an offer to become an ICORN resident in an ICORN City of Refuge which has invited me?
If you decline an invitation from an ICORN City of Refuge, ICORN cannot guarantee that another city will invite you. Declining an offer will not, however, affect your candidacy in any way and it will not affect the way in which your case is presented to other ICORN Cities. It can, on the other hand, limit your possibilities and the process might take longer. Nevertheless, we would appreciation an indication of why you have decided to decline an ICORN residency offer, should you choose to do so.
How do I obtain visa and residence permit if I am invited to an ICORN City of Refuge?
If you are invited to an ICORN City of Refuge, a representative from your host city will help you obtain a visa and a residence permit. If interested, you can read our report on ‘Providing Residencies for Persecuted Writers and Artists in Europe- Immigration Issues’.
What options do I have if I do not get an ICORN residency?
ICORN is in close collaboration with other organisations working in similar situations and we are developing joint strategies to find solutions. We try to follow up on our applicants, but we do not have the capacity to offer solutions and assistance to everyone.
We strongly urge you to continue doing whatever you can at all times to seek other options to ensure your safety and not solely rely on a residency with ICORN.
We have made a list of organisations that can be of assistance:
This list of FAQs is not exhaustive. Please contact us if you think there are any questions we need to add.