On Thursday, Jan. 19, 2023, Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced a new and innovative private sponsorship program, “Welcome Corps,” that will enable Americans to sponsor refugees arriving through the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) and directly support their resettlement. Launched by the U.S. Department of State in coordination with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the program aims to mobilize at least 10,000 Americans to step forward as private sponsors to at least 5,000 refugees from around the world in its first year.
Through the new program, U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents can form Private Sponsor Groups (PSGs), to welcome individuals who have been found to be refugees by the Department of Homeland Security’s U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), and whom the U.S. government has approved for resettlement to the United States through the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP). Refugees are referred for resettlement when resettlement is their best possible long-term option because they cannot return home and do not have any prospects for local integration in the country into which they fled. All refugees admitted through USRAP complete thorough security vetting and a health screening.
PSGs must be comprised of least five people who are over the age 18 and who live in or near the same community. PSG members must be able to collectively demonstrate that they have the capacity to welcome refugees. Sponsors must raise a minimum of $2,275 in cash and in-kind contributions per refugee newcomer being welcomed.
Beginning in mid-2023, the Welcome Corps will expand to allow private sponsors, through their PSGs, to identify refugees in need of protection whom they wish to sponsor, as well as refer refugee applicants for consideration to the USRAP, subject to program criteria established by the U.S. government. PSGs do not need to identify a particular refugee in their application; the Welcome Corps team will match sponsors to refugees selected for resettlement to the United States.
PSGs also commit to providing welcoming services to arriving refugees for their first 90 days in the community by securing and preparing initial housing, greeting newcomers at the airport, enrolling children in school, and helping adults to find employment.
The earliest privately sponsored refugees will begin arriving through the Welcome corps in April 2023.
For more information on participating in Welcome Corps, forming a PSG, or identifying and recommending a refugee in need of protection for sponsorship, visit www.welcomecorps.org.