USCRI Welcomes Launch of Private Sponsorship “Welcome Corps” Program

By USCRI January 19, 2023

Today the Biden administration launched a new private sponsorship program for refugees. The program, called “Welcome Corps,” will enable Americans to directly sponsor the resettlement of refugees in their communities through the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP). The Department of State, the Department of Health and Human Services, and a consortium of non-governmental partners will recruit private sponsors from members of faith and civic groups, veterans, diaspora communities, businesses, college, universities, and more. 

“The U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants is excited about the addition of Welcome Corps to the American refugee resettlement system,” USCRI CEO and President Eskinder Negash said. “Dynamic solutions and complimentary protection pathways are needed to welcome more newcomers amid record rates of forced displacement worldwide.”  

Since the formal inception of the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program, the State Department has primarily partnered with non-profit volunteer resettlement agencies, including USCRI, to provide initial resettlement assistance to newcomers. The private sponsorship model of the Welcome Corps is intended to be “independent and complimentary to existing avenues for volunteering with resettlement agencies.” The program is meant to increase the country’s capacity to welcome higher numbers of refugees and be part of the administration’s efforts to strengthen, modernize, and expand the USRAP. 

“The Welcome Corps will complement the longstanding work of the resettlement agencies in the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program, which will remain the backbone of the American response to forced displacement worldwide,” Negash said. “We encourage the administration to double down on its efforts to fortify the USRAP for many years to come.”  

In the initial phase of the program in the first half of 2023, private sponsors will be matched with refugees whose cases are already approved for resettlement under the USRAP. In the program’s second phase, private sponsors will be able to identify refugees to refer to the USRAP. Additional details on the program’s second phase, which will launch in mid-2023, are expected later.  

Federal officials have a goal to mobilize at least 10,000 Americans to become private sponsors for at least 5,000 refugees during the program’s first year. 

The private sponsorship model comes after the Uniting for Ukraine (U4U) program and a parole process for Venezuelans were launched in 2022, which both drew on U.S.-based sponsors to welcome newcomers. While USCRI supports protections offered to those fleeing war and instability, USCRI remains concerned about access to protections remaining equitable and available to people regardless of nationality and familial or other links in the United States. 

“The resettlement system must ensure that protections are extended to the most vulnerable,” Negash said. 

With its consortium of non-governmental partners, this program will benefit from decades of resettlement work that predate the formal USRAP. USCRI has helped resettle refugees and immigrants for more than 100 years—and believes the successes and challenges of that work can inform the development and success of new complementary pathways. 

USCRI will monitor the rollout of the Welcome Corps and keep its network of field offices and affiliates informed of new developments and details.  

USCRI, founded in 1911, is a non-governmental, not-for-profit international organization committed to working on behalf of refugees and immigrants and their transition to a dignified life.

For press inquiries, please contact: aplazasrocha@uscrimail.org

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