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The Welcome Corps Celebrates First Year of New Service Opportunity for Americans to Privately Sponsor Refugees

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                     

January 19, 2024

PRESS CONTACT

IRAP | Spencer Tilger, media@refugeerights.org

Welcome Corps | press@welcomecorps.org

THE WELCOME CORPS CELEBRATES FIRST YEAR OF NEW SERVICE OPPORTUNITY FOR AMERICANS TO PRIVATELY SPONSOR REFUGEES

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 non-profit resettlement agencies as well as grassroots community organizations. 

“Today we celebrate one year of everyday Americans coming together to sponsor refugees for resettlement in the United States,” said Elizabeth Foydel, Private Sponsorship Program Director at the International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP). “Welcome Corps has expanded resettlement capacity, brought together families and friends, invigorated communities, and showcased this country’s spirit of welcome. We look forward to supporting this program for years to come.”

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.

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. 

About IRAP

The International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP) is a global legal aid and advocacy organization working to create a world where refugees and all people seeking safety are empowered to claim their right to freedom of movement and a path to lasting refuge. Everyone should have a safe place to live and a safe way to get there.

www.refugeerights.org

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