What is Welcome Corps?
The Welcome Corps is a new program that empowers everyday Americans to privately sponsor refugees. You can apply to form a Private Sponsorship Group (PSG) to welcome refugees into your community and assist newcomers as they build new lives in the United States. As a private sponsor, you will work with your group to secure and furnish initial housing, greet the refugee family at the airport, enroll children in school, and help adults find employment. These shared acts of welcome make it easier for refugee newcomers to adjust to life in the United States and strengthen all of our communities. While welcoming refugees through private sponsorship is a significant responsibility, you already have the most critical skill you need to succeed—knowledge of your local community—and you will receive support from the Welcome Corps team throughout your sponsorship journey.
I’m interested, but I need support!
Both Women of Welcome and We Welcome have coaches who will support you through the entire application journey. Once your application is accepted, you will be matched with a settlement organization that will help you as you welcome the newcomer family you’ve been matched with.
How are sponsors vetted?
You and each member of your sponsorship group must complete a background check. The required Welcome Corps training includes a section on cultural sensitivity. Additionally, there are guides concerning different refugee cultures and a suggested food supply list that you can use to stock the pantry.
What kind of training will I receive?
At least one member of your group must take the Welcome Corps Essential Training (an online course that lasts about 4 hours). We encourage all group members to complete the training. There is also beneficial additional online training available through the Welcome Corps.
As you create a Welcome Plan as a part of your application, you will also learn about the resources available in your community.
What is the time commitment to sponsor?
You are committing to providing friendship, guidance, and financial support for the refugees’ initial 90 days in the United States. We hope that the relationship will transition into one of friendship that could last a lifetime!
After your application is approved, you will wait 1-5 months for the family to arrive. During the first few weeks after they arrive, you should plan to check in with them often, several times a week. One way to make this workable is for each group member to visit the same day, once a week! After the first few weeks, visits may decrease as the family gains independence.
My town is quite rural. Can I still sponsor?
Yes! While you may need to think creatively about transportation in areas without public transit, often, tight-knit communities are well-suited to help newcomers rebuild!
I don’t know how to find affordable housing in my community.
Ask at your church and workplace to see if anyone knows a landlord or realtor. We find the most success with personal relationships! If you know of a landlord in town already renting to refugees, see if they would be willing to talk to another landlord about their experience!
You can also contact social service providers in your community to see if they have recommendations. The Welcome Corps also has a tip sheet on securing housing you can read.
I’m interested but don’t know four other people to join. Can you connect me?
We first suggest you recruit in your community. Share on your social media that you’re interested in participating. Ask around at church. Put up a flyer at the local library. Consider hosting a small dinner using the Dine for Refugees toolkit. You’ll be surprised at the response you’ll receive.
If you’re still stuck, please reach out, and we will see if we know anyone else in your area to connect you with!
How much money do I have to raise?
Sponsors must raise a minimum of $2,425 in cash and in-kind contributions per refugee newcomer being welcomed (this includes children in the family). These funds are used to secure and furnish housing, pay rent for the first 90 days, and provide for the refugee’s initial basic needs until they secure employment.
Where is the fundraised money held?
For financial transparency, money should be held separately from individual sponsor’s bank accounts. One way to do this is to set up a GoFundMe account. Another option is to open a joint bank account with two PSG members or for one group member to open a private savings account. In all three cases, the GoFundMe or account name should be the same as the PSG nickname. A third option is to partner with a non-profit organization to collect and disburse your group's funds. Once the family arrives, the sponsors will work with the family to manage that money for the first 90 days.
How are refugees chosen to participate?
Any refugees welcomed to the United States have been determined to be refugees by the United Nations and the Department of Homeland Security. They will already be approved and screened (for security and health) by the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program.
Many who will be welcomed by private sponsors in the Welcome Corps will come from Sub-Saharan Africa, where they have been waiting for years to find a permanent home.
Are refugees vetted for security?
You will support individuals 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 solution—meaning they cannot return home and do not have any prospects for local integration in the country to which they fled. All refugees admitted through the USRAP, including refugees supported through the Welcome Corps, must complete thorough security vetting and health screening before coming to the United States. Only those refugee applicants cleared through an extensive security vetting process, including vetting by U.S. government law enforcement and intelligence agencies, are approved for resettlement to the United States.
How will Welcome Corps match my group with a family?
As part of your Welcome Corps application, your group will indicate the family size you can support and information about your community’s resources. This information is used to identify a refugee family that can benefit from the support of your group and your community. Try to be open-minded and flexible about your preferences! Identifying a match that meets your specific preferences may not always be possible, or you may need to wait longer for an optimal match. The more flexible you are, the more quickly Welcome Corps can match you with a refugee or refugee family who needs your support.
If I already know a refugee, can I sponsor them specifically?
Yes! Through the Welcome Corps you can sponsor a refugee you know. This is referred to as “naming.”
Our coaches are only able to support you through the matching process, where you sponsor a refugee that you do not know. If you are looking to sponsor someone you are already connected with, please visit: https://welcomecorps.org/resources/sponsor-someone-you-know/
Can I sponsor an asylum seeker?
Not through the Welcome Corps. Through parole programs like Uniting for Ukraine or the Process for Cubans, Haitians, Nicaraguans, and Venezuelans, you can apply to welcome a specific displaced person or family and agree to financially support them as they arrive in the United States as a humanitarian parolee. People who enter on these pathways do not have refugee status or a path to long-term status and citizenship.
Can I talk to someone about my questions?
Yes! Jen, our Advocacy Director, would love to chat with you to learn more about you and your interest in sponsorship. Book a call today!
For more information, please visit the Welcome Corps official Frequently Asked Questions.