What is the Welcome Corps?

The Welcome Corps is a refugee sponsorship initiative under the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP).  Through the Welcome Corps, Americans, in groups of at least five adults, support newly arrived refugees by securing and preparing initial housing, greeting them at the airport, enrolling children in school, helping adults find employment and meet other needs to ensure they are prepared for life in the United States.

What are the requirements for sponsors?

Private sponsor groups must consist of at least five U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents (sometimes known as “green card holders”) who are at least 18 years old and live in the same community.

Sponsor groups must commit to providing core resettlement services to sponsored refugees for 90 days after they arrive.  These services include locating and preparing affordable housing, enrolling children in school, finding jobs, enrolling in federal and state benefits, and helping refugees integrate into their new community.  Each private sponsor group must submit an application through WelcomeCorps.org.  As part of the application process, sponsors must also complete training, pass background checks, and raise funds to support refugees for their first 90 days in the United States.  Sponsors must raise the equivalent amount of in-kind and/or cash support for every refugee sponsored that the U.S. government currently provides to resettlement agencies who also support refugee arrivals.  Most of these funds may be spent on behalf of refugees by the sponsors, for example, for housing or to purchase items to help them get settled.

The Welcome Corps provides sponsors with access to tools and resources, including a budget template, fundraising support, an arrival checklist, and ongoing guidance throughout the sponsorship period.  Sponsor groups may be partnered with a private sponsor organization (PSO) that has experience in providing integration support to refugees and will offer assistance and coaching to sponsors in navigating the sponsorship process from beginning to end.

How do I sponsor a refugee?

There are two ways to sponsor refugees through the Welcome Corps:  sponsor groups may either be matched with refugees they do not know who are already being considered for resettlement to the United States via the USRAP, or sponsor groups may identify refugees who they know and refer them to the USRAP for consideration to be resettled in the United States.

Who will I be matched with?

Sponsors may be matched with refugees of any nationality from all regions of the world.  While we encourage sponsors to be open minded about the types of refugees with whom they are matched, sponsors can state preferences for specific languages, nationalities, or household types (such as families with children or individual adults) in their applications.

How can I sponsor a refugee I know?

This program is for refugees.  Refugees included in Welcome Corps applications must meet the eligibility and admissibility criteria of the USRAP. Sponsor groups may refer refugees of any nationality who meet all of the following criteria:

  • They live outside their country of nationality, or if no nationality, their last habitual residence;
  • They do not live in the United States;
  • They live in a country where the U.S. government is able to interview sponsored refugees and process their cases (Note:  See further information on countries where the Welcome Corps is not available at https://welcomecorps.org/);
  • They are already registered on or before September 30, 2023, as a refugee or asylum seeker by the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) or by the government of the country where they live; or refugees of Cuban, Haitian, Nicaraguan, or Venezuelan nationality must have a Form I-134 or I-134A already filed on their behalf before September 30, 2023. They must have been outside their country of nationality by the time the form was filed.
  • They are at least 18 years old or, if they are a child, they are being referred with their parent. Without exception, anyone under 18 must be referred with their biological parent or legal guardian, and;
  • They have not been previously denied for resettlement to the United States through the USRAP.

Sponsors can also list applicants who already have an active application with the USRAP or Afghan Special Immigrant Visa program.  These individuals will continue being processed on their original case.  They will be assigned to the sponsor group to support their resettlement instead of a resettlement agency if they are approved and ready for travel to the United States.

The U.S. government will ultimately make the determination to approve a refugee for resettlement, and a referral does not guarantee someone will be admitted to the United States.  Refugees referred through Welcome Corps will not be fast-tracked and will be processed in the same manner as all other refugees referred to the USRAP.

For more information, please visit welcomecorps.org 

Welcome Corps on Campus

The Welcome Corps on Campus links refugee students to higher education opportunities and a path to permanent legal status in the United States through the USRAP.  Participating U.S. higher education institutions enroll refugee students in degree programs, and private sponsor groups from the campus community commit to supporting their resettlement.  Together, these higher education institutions and campus sponsor groups play an instrumental role in each refugee students’ journey towards long-term integration in the United States

Colleges and universities interested in participating in Welcome Corps on Campus can learn more and subscribe to program updates.

Welcome Corps at Work

The Welcome Corps at Work links refugees to employment opportunities and resettlement through the USRAP providing innovative solutions for both U.S employers and skilled refugees.  Through this program, qualified refugees are matched with U.S employers that provide concrete job offers.  If they are approved for resettlement, these refugees are supported by a local sponsor group from the community of their employment.  The Welcome Corps at Work creates opportunities for participating U.S employers and local community groups to play a critical role in refugee candidates’ journeys towards economic stability and long-term integration in the United States.

Discover More

U.S. Department of State

The Lessons of 1989: Freedom and Our Future