A teddy bear sits on a makeshift bed for a refugee child.
Shelle-Ann Simon

Shelle-Ann Simon

Welcome corps iniciative expands u.s. refugee admissions program

A private sponsorship program will allow more refugees to como to the US

The United States Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) will be complemented and expanded through a new private sponsorship initiative called “Welcome Corps”. This article explains how the program works, how refugees are chosen, and the requisites and responsibilities of sponsors.

This article was written by the legal experts of the Law Office of Shelle-Ann Simon. Its purpose is merely to inform the community, and does not constitute legal advice. If you need legal representation or counsel, call us at 281-606-5362.

Table of Contents

    What is Welcome Corps?

    Welcome Corps is a private sponsorship program that will allow Americans throughout the country to support incoming refugees arriving through USRAP. Americans will welcome their new neighbors into their communities and help them build their new lives in the United States.

    The program is a joint effort between the Department of State and the Department of Health and Human Services. It was modelled after a similar program that proved successful in Canada, and it incorporates lessons learned from other recent immigration processes that hope to offer easier access to legal immigration for eligible candidates.

    Volunteers helping refugees at a shelter. The Welcome Corps initiative will allow Americans to help refugees settle into their new communities.
    Thousands of people are displaced because of wars, gang violence and other harrowing conditions.

    What is USRAP?

    The U.S. Refugee Admissions Program identifies and admits refugees abroad for resettlement into the country, as explained in Section 208 of the Immigration and Nationality Act. The program is run by different federal agencies that work together with non-profit organizations.

    USRAP has historically worked together with resettlement agencies to find new homes for refugees. With Welcome Corps, everyday Americans will be able to take on an active role in the resettlement of refugees, allowing more eligible individuals to get a new start in the US.

    How does Welcome Corps work?

    Americans can apply to form a Private Sponsor Group or PSG to welcome refugees in their community and provide direct assistance with their resettlement. The PSG will take the role of traditional resettlement agencies, securing initial housing for the refugee and helping them access key resources such as education, health services and public benefits they qualify for, among other things.

    What are the requisites for Welcome Corps sponsors?

    Private Sponsor Groups will be made up of at least five members, all of which must be over the age of 18 and live in the same community or nearby. A group of friends, relatives, club members, churchgoers, colleagues or any group of welcoming Americans can participate as a PSG.

    PSG members must prove that they have the capacity to welcome the sponsored refugee: this means presenting a plan of how the refugee will be welcomed into the community and raising a minimum of $2,275 per refugee, which will be used to secure housing and provide appropriate furnishing to cover the refugee’s basic needs until they find employment.

    How are refugees chosen?

    Welcome Corps will support refugees identified by USCIS through the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP). All refugees admitted through USRAP undergo security vettings and health screenings before they are allowed into the country for resettlement.

    During the initial phase of Welcome Corps, communities will welcome refugees who have already been identified and approved by the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program. Welcome Corps will match private sponsors to refugees waiting for resettlement.

    Once the program is up and running, private sponsors will be allowed to identify individuals they wish to sponsor and who are eligible applicants for refugee status. They will be able to refer applicants to USRAP and, if the applicant proves eligible, sponsor them once they have been approved for resettlement to the US.

    What are the responsibilities of sponsors?

    Private Sponsor Groups will be responsible for providing welcoming services for the arriving refugees for a duration of at least 90 days after their arrival. Besides securing resources to cover basic needs, as well as facilitating access to housing and services, sponsors will provide provide friendship and support to the newly arrived refugees.

    Welcome Corps will provide PSGs with the tools and resources necessary to make the sponsorship a success.

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