U.S. Government Announces New Private Sponsorship Program: Welcome Corps

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE  

January 19, 2022

The United States just announced a new private sponsorship program, the Welcome Corps, that will give Americans the opportunity to sponsor refugees from across the world for lifesaving resettlement in the U.S. The program aims to mobilize 10,000 Americans to welcome refugees through private sponsorship in 2023.

As more people are forced to flee their homes due to violence and persecution each day, this program comes at a crucial time. The U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM) recognizes the need for increased resettlement capacity, after the previous administration drastically slashed the U.S. refugee reception system. The Welcome Corps aims to strengthen and modernize the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP), which has been a goal of the Biden Administration since 2021.

The new program will use lessons learned from the successful Sponsor Circle Program for Afghans, which RefugePoint helped to build. That program played an important role in supporting Afghans evacuated into the U.S. to integrate into new communities across the country. Similarly, Welcome Corps sponsors will work in groups of five to raise funds, create a resettlement plan, welcome refugee newcomers at the airport, enroll children in school, and more. Yet, rather than an emergency measure, the new program will be “an enduring element of U.S. refugee resettlement,” a U.S. State Department spokesperson told The Associated Press. Ultimately, the program aims to augment the number of refugees coming to the U.S. through its traditional resettlement program.

In order to build the infrastructure required for this new program, the State Department has selected a consortium of NGOs, led by the Community Sponsorship Hub, to support in recruiting, vetting, and training sponsors. RefugePoint has provided guidance to various stakeholders involved in the program’s development to help ensure its success. The formal sponsorship process, through which Americans can fill out an application to sponsor an individual refugee or family, begins today.  

Since the nationwide efforts to support Afghan newcomers, and then Ukrainians, we’ve witnessed countless U.S. citizens upholding the fundamental American value of welcome. Private sponsorship allows everyday Americans to continue welcoming those in need of a safe haven. The Welcome Corps will help thousands of people, many of whom have been forcibly displaced for decades, find a new home in the U.S.

Refugee newcomers will go through extensive security vetting and health checks. Once vetted, they will have refugee status, employment authorization, and access to public benefits such as health insurance, and will eventually be able to apply for U.S. citizenship. The Welcome Corps will provide resources and support for sponsor groups, as well as guidance during the initial sponsorship phase.

Applications for the Welcome Corps will be accepted beginning today. Americans interested in learning more about sponsorship should visit WelcomeCorps.org

CONTACT: Alexis Felder, Associate Director of Communications, RefugePoint (felder@refugepoint.org)

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