This year the U.S administration introduced a new refugee resettlement program called Welcome Corps. This program allows individuals and groups to sponsor and resettle refugees without the support or financial assistance of resettlement agencies. With 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. With this new program come a few frequently asked questions—read on to learn more!
What’s different about Welcome Corps? Is this different from how we’ve done refugee resettlement in the past?
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.
How does Welcome Corps work?
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.
What Does Welcome Corps Look Like for Churches and other potential sponsoring groups?
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.
Though this program is in its infancy, it is exciting to see new opportunities for churches and congregants to engage with immigrants; Welcome Corps is an additional way we can live out our Matthew 25 call to welcome the stranger. If you are ready to start, visit our new resource page that provides a step by step guide to refugee sponsorship through Welcome Corps!