Biden Admin Launches Welcome Corps, New Private Sponsorship Program for Refugees


The Biden administration has launched a new program called Welcome Corps, which allows groups of private citizens to sponsor refugees from around the world to live in the United States.

In a substantial reorientation of the U.S. refugee program, the Biden administration has launched a new program called Welcome Corps, which allows groups of private citizens to sponsor refugees from around the world to live in the United States.

Welcome Corps builds upon other recent DHS emergency initiatives that have supported Afghan and Ukrainian refugees, as well as expedited processes for Cubans, Haitians, Nicaraguans and Venezuelans. However, while those programs provide temporary support, Welcome Corps’ mission is focused on permanent resettlement. The goal of this initiative is that these newcomers will reside in the U.S. permanently, eventually gaining citizenship. Also, in previous programs, sponsors had to demonstrate that they could financially support newcomers for a two-year period. With Welcome Corps, ongoing financial support is not required or expected of sponsors.

Welcome Corps’ model is centered on group sponsorship. Sponsor groups consist of five or more people over 18 and can form from friend groups, work colleagues, faith and civic groups, businesses, colleges or universities and beyond.


What Refugee Resettlement Sponsors Provide

Each sponsor group must raise $2,275 per refugee which will provide support for the first three months in the country. These funds typically go towards clothing, housing and other startup costs as newcomers set up their lives. Sponsor groups also help refugees make inroads into the community by connecting them with affordable housing, transportation, and connections to crucial services like employment and schools.

Private sponsor groups do not receive government money, but in the future, it’s possible that philanthropic funds will become available for citizens who want to participate but need financial support to do so.

In order to be selected as sponsors, groups must provide a detailed welcome plan laying out how they will receive the refugees and connect them to essential local services. Refugees being supported by private sponsors will be cleared through the same extensive security vetting required for all refugees admitted to the United States.

Support For Refugee Sponsors

The State Department-funded consortium of nonprofits with expertise in refugee resettlement will help to support sponsors by vetting them, providing training before the sponsorship, and checking in regularly with both sponsor groups and refugees.

Some U.S. Refugee Resettlement Context

U.S. refugee admissions dropped significantly in recent years after former President Trump slashed the refugee cap. The Biden administration has raised the cap to 125,000 for the past two fiscal years, but admissions last year and thus far this year have still fallen far short of that. Welcome Corps’ goal is to sign up at least 10k Americans as private sponsors for at least 5,000 refugees in 2023.

How Welcome Corps Will Change the Refugee Resettlement Landscape

The Welcome Corps program is similar to a model used in several other countries, including Canada, where it has seen great success. Ideally, by putting sponsorship squarely in the hands of regular Americans, our country’s capacity to welcome refugees will increase.

Read the State Department’s fact sheet on the launch of Welcome Corps, and read more information on Welcome Corps and learn how to become a private sponsor.



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