The Welcome Corps program empowers everyday Americans to help refugees from around the world find safety and build new lives in the United States
WASHINGTON, D.C.—Today, the Welcome Corps is celebrating its first anniversary as the flagship program for private sponsorship of refugees in the United States. Through the Welcome Corps, everyday Americans are stepping up to directly support the resettlement of refugees in communities across the country. In the first year of the program, more than 15,000 Americans answered the call to serve by applying to sponsor more than 7,000 refugees. In its second year, the Welcome Corps will continue to galvanize Americans to participate in this meaningful service opportunity to provide a warm welcome to refugees and strengthen the communities where they are resettled in the process.
“Welcoming refugees is an integral part of our American DNA, and we have seen this welcoming spirit flourish in the first year of the Welcome Corps. The Welcome Corps will continue to invite Americans to do what we do best—be caring and generous neighbors, guides, and friends to refugee newcomers as they build new lives in the United States,” said Ambassador Julieta Valls Noyes, Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration.
Representing one of the boldest innovations to U.S. refugee resettlement in 40 years, the State Department launched the Welcome Corps to create new ways for Americans to play a key role in resettling refugees. In groups of five or more adults, Americans come together in the Welcome Corps to take on essential tasks to help refugees during their first 90 days in the United States. This includes securing and preparing initial housing, greeting refugees at the airport, helping adults find employment, enrolling children in school, and serving as guides to enable refugees to forge ties in their new communities.
“The Welcome Corps builds on the incredible willingness of communities ready to offer a warm welcome to those seeking safety, refuge, and belonging in the United States,” said Annie Nolte-Henning, Executive Director of Community Sponsorship Hub. “Celebrating this moment with sponsors across the country, from coast-to-coast and in our heartland, is a testament to the enduring spirit of welcome in America."
Of the more than 15,000 Americans who have applied since the Welcome Corps launched a year ago, more than 100 sponsor groups across 32 states have now welcomed refugees from around the world. Participating sponsors represent Americans from all walks of life, including veterans, faith groups, businesses, universities, immigrants, and previously resettled refugees seeking to pay it forward, as well as Americans getting involved in refugee resettlement for the first time.
In the program’s second year, the Welcome Corps will continue to enable Americans to be matched with refugees they do not know, or to apply to sponsor refugees they do know. Americans being matched with refugees can also indicate whether they are well placed to welcome specific refugee populations or cases based on their ability to uniquely offer support in relation to specific spoken languages, nationalities, and/or family sizes. In December 2023, the Welcome Corps expanded, making it possible for Americans to apply to sponsor refugees they know for resettlement in the United States.
As part of the Welcome Corps, more than 25 organizations have also stepped forward to serve as private sponsor organizations that offer hands-on guidance and support to sponsors and refugees throughout their sponsorship journeys. These organizations represent a diverse range of local, state, and national organizations with expertise in refugee resettlement, ranging from traditional nonprofit resettlement agencies as well as grassroots community organizations.
“In its first year, the Welcome Corps has proven its groundbreaking potential to remake how we welcome refugees, tapping into the generosity and compassion of our diverse American communities and our history of service. As everyday Americans open their hearts and communities to those seeking refuge, the impact has echoed far beyond the families who have arrived through the program. Their lives, and the trajectory of their human potential, are forever altered for the good. But what the Welcome Corps also makes clear is how much the rest of us benefit," said Nazanin Ash, CEO of Welcome.US. "Our communities are stronger. Our compassion as a nation is rekindled. Americans are empowered to do something deeply impactful about the tragedies they see unfolding in the world. In celebrating this milestone, we recognize the Welcome Corps is much more than a refugee resettlement program. The possibilities for newcomers, communities, and our nation as a whole to benefit are endless.”
All refugees arriving in the United States through the Welcome Corps have been approved by the U.S. government for resettlement in the United States through the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program. The screening process includes extensive case review and security screening. Upon arrival, refugees are granted legal status, employment authorization, and access to key public benefits such as health insurance, and can eventually apply for U.S. citizenship.
To learn more about the Welcome Corps, to sign up for updates, or to find information about becoming a sponsor, please visit WelcomeCorps.org.
At Welcome.US, our mission is to unleash the desire and capacity of Americans to welcome newcomers and help them thrive. We operate on the evidence that direct participation with newcomers transforms both the welcomer and those being welcomed. We are not an advocacy organization or an operational agency providing direct services to newcomers. By making it easier for Americans from all walks of life to participate in the work of welcoming — and telling their stories — we are building a movement that celebrates America’s welcoming spirit by providing an opportunity to serve for all who seek to welcome. Our diverse community of Welcomers reaches across real and perceived divides to meet the needs of newcomers more effectively.
In partnership with local and national resettlement agencies, diaspora organizations and leaders, refugees, community sponsorship groups, nonprofits, businesses, faith-based institutions, veterans, universities, four former Presidents and four former First Ladies, Welcome.US is the single point of entry for Americans who want to get involved and support those who are starting new lives in the United States.
To learn more about Welcome.US, please visit welcome.us.
About the Welcome Corps
The Welcome Corps was launched by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM) in January 2023, and is implemented by a consortium of seven organizations with extensive expertise in refugee resettlement, protection of vulnerable populations, and integration into welcoming communities. Led by the Community Sponsorship Hub, the consortium includes Church World Service/Refugee Welcome Collective, HIAS, IRIS – Integrated Refugee and Immigrant Services, International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP), International Rescue Committee (IRC), and Welcome.US.