State Department Launches “Welcome Corps” for Private Sponsorship of Refugees

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State Department Launches “Welcome Corps” for Private Sponsorship of Refugees

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On January 19th, 2023, the U.S. Department of State announced a new government program to allow private individuals to sponsor refugees into the United States.[1]

Previously, refugees would be referred to the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (“USRAP”) abroad by a U.S. embassy or nongovernmental organization. Once the refugee was determined eligible for refugee status, they must then be sponsored by a U.S.-based resettlement agency before they would be able to enter the U.S.

In the first phase of the Welcome Corps program in the first six months of 2023, groups of at least 5 U.S. citizens or permanent residents would be able to sponsor pre-approved refugees to enter the U.S. This group of private sponsors must raise a minimum of $2,275 for the incoming refugee to use towards securing housing and initial basic needs for the refugees’ first 90 days in the U.S. In additional to securing and furnishing housing and providing basic needs, sponsors are responsible for making connections to relevant services, such as health care, education, and employment services for the refugee.

Beginning in the second half of 2023, the Welcome Corps program will allow private sponsors to actually identify refugees to refer to USRAP for resettlement. For individuals in the U.S. with family abroad that may qualify for refugee status but had not yet received a referral to USRAP, this change has the potential to greatly ameliorate a frequently frustrating process. Further details on this stage of the process are forthcoming from DOS.

The current plan for Welcome Corps is to mobilize 10,000 sponsors for 5,000 incoming refugees, but should more than 10,000 sponsors apply they indicate that they will assist additional refugees.

For more information on the Welcome Corps, please visit their website at https://welcomecorps.org/.  If you would like to discuss the possibility of utilizing this new program for a family member abroad, you can schedule a consultation with our firm today.

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