As part of the Biden Administration’s efforts to strengthen and enhance the USRAP, the State Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration announced it was expanding opportunities for everyday Americans to engage more directly in refugee resettlement.
On January 19, the Department of State launched the Welcome Corps, fulfilling President Biden’s directive in his Executive Order on “Rebuilding and Enhancing Programs to Resettle Refugees” to leverage private sponsorship to increase domestic resettlement capacity and enable everyday Americans to make a meaningful contribution to welcoming refugees in their own communities.
Welcome Corps, a Private Sponsorship of Refugees (PSR) pilot program, consists of a consortium of six organizations that play different roles in carrying out the program. These organizations are led by Community Sponsorship Hub (CSH) and include Church World Services (CWS)/Refugee Welcome Collective (RWC), Integrated Refugee & Immigrant Services (IRIS), International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP), International Rescue Committee (IRC), and Welcome.US.
Through the Welcome Corps, Americans and lawful permanent residents (green card holders) across the US can work in groups of at least five who live in the same area or are near each other, can apply to privately sponsor refugees by securing and preparing initial housing, greeting refugee newcomers at the airport, enrolling children in school and helping adults find employment, in other words carrying out resettlement services, for their first 90 days.
Private Sponsor Organizations (PSOs), who may or may not be already existing refugee Resettlement Agencies, will oversee Private Sponsor Groups (PSGs). PSOs who already have expertise in the field, will provide management, technical assistance, and support.
The program will be launched in two phases.
Welcome Corps is an alternative to R&P, and does not seek to replace it. Privately sponsored refugees will still be eligible for ORR services such as MG, PC, and RSS and will need to approach local RAs to apply for these programs.
Please go to the Welcome Corps website to see if they are answered.
Links for more information:
Frequently Asked Questions:
Take the training:
This training serves as a baseline for engaging with the U.S. Welcome Corps as a Private Sponsor Group. Participants will receive both in-depth information about providing core private sponsorship services (e.g., housing, benefits and services access, cultural adjustment, etc.) and an overview of how to help facilitate the long-term integration of refugees. Other topics include key mindsets for sponsors, the logistics of forming a Private Sponsor Group, fundraising, developing a Welcome Plan, and resiliency-building.
At least one member of the Private Sponsor Group must complete the training for application approval; however, all group members are strongly encouraged to participate.
(Resources – Welcome Corps https://welcomecorps.org/resources/)
A robust resource library has been put together by Welcome Corps (Resources – Welcome Corps https://welcomecorps.org/resources/) complete with Welcome Corp essentials training, core private sponsorship services, creating a welcome plan, guides and tips on securing housing, raising funds, and a sample private sponsor group structure and roles as well as links to various resources that will equip groups in assisting clients access education, trainings aimed at making them job ready.
Several questions are also addressed in the FAQ section.