by Photo courtesy of Welcome Corps

The State Department recently launched a new program that allows groups of people and organizations to sponsor refugees arriving through the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) to support their resettlement. 

The Biden Administration initiative, called Welcome Corps is a new private sponsorship program created by the U.S. Department of State in collaboration with the Department of Human and Health Services. The program invites ordinary Americans to become partners and guides to refugees as they build new lives in the United States and help them realize their full potential. 

Under the program, modeled after a Canadian system, groups of at least five people must raise at least $2,2275 per refugee during their first three months in the county with needs such as housing, employment, enrolling children into schools, and connecting with other essential services. These individuals will need to pass background checks and submit a plan on how they will support arriving refugees. 

The State Department is working with a consortium of nonprofit organizations with expertise in resettling refugees into U.S. communities to help guide sponsors through their sponsorship journey. 

Secretary of State Anthony J. Blinken called the Welcome Corps “the boldest innovation in refugee resettlement in four decades”. 

“It is designed to strengthen and expand the capacity of the USRAP by harnessing the energy and talents of Americans from all walks of life desiring to serve as private sponsors – ranging from members of faith and civic groups, veterans, diaspora communities, businesses, colleges and universities, and more,” Blinken said in a press release. 

The State Department said its goal during the program’s first fiscal year, which ends on Sept. 30, is to mobilize at least 10,000 Americans to step forward as private sponsors and offer a welcoming hand to at least 5,000 refugees from around the world. 

Blinken said Welcome Corps will build on “the extraordinary response of the American people over the past year in welcoming our Afghan allies, Ukrainians displaced by war, Venezuelans, and others fleeing violence and oppression”. 

“By launching the Welcome Corps, we build on a proud tradition of providing refuge and demonstrate the spirit and generosity of the American people as we commit to welcoming refugees in need of our support,” Blinken said. 

According to U.S. Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, nearly 250 diverse organizations representing every sector, national and community-based services organizations, and more have already joined the program. 

Since the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program was formally established in 1980, the State Department has partnered primarily with nonprofit resettlement agencies, who will continue to play an “indispensable role” in continuing the nation’s refugee resettlement system, according to Principal Deputy National Security Advisor; Julieta Valls Noyes.  

“We're continuing to provide increased support to these resettlement agencies so they can grow their own networks, but we know that alone is not enough,” Noyes said. “If we are going to meet the President’s very ambitious goal of welcoming 125,000 refugees per year into this country, a target that we last met 30 years ago, we need to have a variety of ways of doing that, and the Welcome Corps is going to compliment the efforts of our resettlement agency partners in new and exciting ways.”

For more information on the Welcome Corps or how to become a private sponsor, visit the Welcome Corps website.

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