On Thursday, January 19th, the Biden Administration announced a new private sponsorship program for refugees called The Welcome Corps. Through Welcome Corps, everyday Americans can directly sponsor refugees who are being resettled in the U.S.
Today, there are an estimated 103 million displaced people globally, including 32.5 million refugees. Forced from their homes and separated from support networks, refugees are among the world’s most vulnerable populations.
At Arrive Ministries, we know you want to live out Jesus’ call to welcome the stranger and care for those experiencing vulnerability. Private sponsorship builds on Arrive Ministries’ existing opportunities that engage local communities in welcoming newcomers. Here are 9 things you should know about private sponsorship and how you can get involved.
1. What is The Welcome Corps?
The Welcome Corps is a new private sponsorship program from the U.S. government that allows groups to sponsor and resettle refugees. Sponsors will play a key role in welcoming, supporting and assisting refugees as they rebuild their lives in the U.S. and integrate into their new communities.
2. How do I become a sponsor?
Becoming a private sponsor is a multi-step process that includes forming a group of five or more individuals, submitting an application, background checks, demonstrating sufficient financial resources and more. Currently, private sponsors can apply to be matched with someone in need of sponsorship. The U.S. government is also working to roll out an option for people to sponsor specific individuals they already know who are in need of resettlement from another country. To learn more and begin your application process, click below!
3. Who is eligible for resettlement through the Welcome Corps?
This new program will be implemented in phases. In its first year, Welcome Corps’ goal is to mobilize at least 10,000 Americans to help at least 5,000 refugees, and then scale up to make the program an enduring feature of the refugee resettlement system.
The first refugees who will be assisted by private sponsors through Welcome Corps are expected to arrive in April 2023 and will primarily come from countries in Sub-Saharan Africa.
4. If I become a sponsor, what will I do?
Sponsors assume responsibility for initial resettlement services, providing financial and other forms of support as required by the refugee resettlement process. Some examples of non-material support include:
- Meeting the refugee(s) upon arrival in the United States and transporting them to initial housing. Ensuring that the sponsee has safe and appropriate housing and basic necessities
- Ensuring that the sponsee’s healthcare and medical needs are met for the duration of the resettlement period
- As appropriate, helping the sponsee complete the necessary paperwork for employment authorization, a Social Security card and for any other public benefits for which they may be eligible
- As appropriate, assisting the sponsee with accessing education, learning English and enrolling children in school
- Supporting employable sponsees in securing employment in the U.S. workforce
- Ensuring appropriate interpretation/translation
- Providing cultural and community orientations
For more information on the sponsorship process and what’s required of sponsors, visit welcomecorps.org.
5. Is private sponsorship good for refugees?
Private sponsorship opens more pathways for more people fleeing persecution to rebuild their lives and thrive. At Arrive Ministries, we applaud the expansion of sustainable, lawful opportunities for those fleeing persecution to find safety in the U.S.
Navigating the process of private sponsorship can also come with challenges for both sponsors and refugees. But you don’t have to face them alone.
At Arrive Ministries, we have decades of experience working with refugees and displaced populations through our various local community sponsorship and volunteer programs. We utilize this experience to equip churches and passionate people like you to walk alongside those who choose to welcome newcomers and the newcomers they are matched with.
6. Has private sponsorship been done elsewhere?
Yes! Private sponsorship has been a successful piece of refugee resettlement efforts in countries like Canada and Australia, and versions of private sponsorship have even been part of U.S. refugee resettlement historically. Most recently, the U.S. has re-engaged private sponsorship models to resettle people from Afghanistan, Ukraine, Venezuela, Haiti, Nicaragua and Cuba. This new program goes beyond existing private sponsorship programs providing a pathway to resettle refugees from around the world.
7. What about traditional pathways to refugee resettlement? Will refugees continue to be resettled by Arrive Ministries and other agencies?
Yes! The U.S. federal refugee resettlement program will continue to operate and Arrive Ministries will continue to offer various ways for churches and individuals to engage in welcoming refugees and other immigrants in vulnerable situations. Private sponsorship will complement the work already being done by organizations like Arrive Ministries, allowing more people fleeing persecution to find safety in the U.S.
8. Is Arrive Ministries assisting with private sponsorship?
Currently, Arrive Ministries provides other community sponsorship opportunities, such as our Good Neighbor Team program. While we are not administering the private sponsorship program directly at this time, we are eager to continue welcoming refugees, both through our own resettlement program and by discerning how we can best partner with and support the Welcome Corps. Many of our departments are able to offer services to sponsees such as English classes and immigration legal services.
9. I’m not ready to become a private sponsor. Is there anything else I can do?
Yes! As mentioned, Arrive Ministries works with refugees and displaced people in Minnesota, and offers the opportunity to welcome and walk alongside refugees and other immigrants through local volunteer programs.
You can support this work by volunteering through our office or making a donation to Arrive Ministries. Your gift will allow Arrive Ministries to provide job training, legal support and more for immigrants and refugees in Minnesota. Together, we can extend welcome and love to our new neighbors