Welcome Corps is a Public-Private Sponsorship Program that allows individuals and groups to sponsor and resettle refugees-without the support or financial assistance of Resettlement Agencies. With refugee resettlement numbers down after years of cuts to the resettlement budget, Welcome Corps is an opportunity to offer a pathway to safety to more refugees and live out our biblical call to welcome the stranger as found in Matthew 25.
In the past, individuals and groups in the U.S. could only assist and co-sponsor a refugee, but most of the logistical support and financial assistance came from Resettlement Agencies. While these resettlement agencies will still function as usual for some refugees, Welcome Corps is an option that puts the financial and logistical responsibility on individuals/groups. Canada has been using a Private Sponsorship model for decades, and many churches in Canada report experiencing success through this model.
Refugees approved through the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (who have been through security and health vetting) are matched with private sponsor groups (you!) based on the family size the sponsor group is willing and able to sponsor, as well as community factors.
A sponsorship group must have at least 5 members that are 18+. These could all be family members, church members, neighborhood friends, etc.
At least one member must take an online training (though we suggest that all members go through the training).
Sponsorship groups must raise $2,375 per refugee. You may designate whether you are able to sponsor one individual, or if you can afford to sponsor two+, etc. 60% of the required funds must be raised before the arrival of the refugee(s).
Once your group is matched with a refugee(s), you will secure housing for the individual or family you are sponsoring.
Upon arrival, you will pick them up from the airport and help them settle in.
For the next 90 days, it is your responsibility to support them as they settle in. This includes: helping to find employment, transporting to any appointments (doctor, interviews, etc), setting children up in school, using the grocery store, using public transit, getting a driver’s license, connecting to English classes, and more.
Although the financial and logistic commitment as described above is for 90 days, it often takes longer for refugee individuals and families to settle in successfully. Your commitment includes making sure that the individual or family you are sponsoring is connected with ongoing support and services in your community.
Not necessarily! While this program model does put more responsibility on the group rather than the refugee resettlement organization, support is still available. Some refugee resettlement organizations that are approved as Private Sponsorship Organizations (PSOs) are able to offer training and logistical support, though ultimately the primary responsibility is on the private sponsorship group.
Keep in mind that Welcome Corps is new and was only announced in January 2023. Many refugee resettlement organizations that have not been designated as PSOs will be unable to assist with this program in any way. Things are changing often right now, and we expect that more organizations will be approved as Private Sponsorship Organizations in the near future.
As part of the application process, you can choose which Private Sponsor Organization (PSO) to work with. There is a list of the current approved PSO groups in the Welcome Corps application. If you do not have a specific PSO in mind, one may be assigned to you. The CRC recommends working with Church World Service—to let CWS know you are interested in their support, complete this form.