WASHINGTON, Jan. 19, 2023—Today, the Biden administration announced a new program allowing U.S. citizens and permanent residents to sponsor an individual to enter the United States as a formal refugee.
This program, called the Welcome Corps, complements the traditional U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) by permitting people to join together with others, in minimum groups of five, to apply to sponsor a new refugee. As part of this process, they will have to raise $2,750 per refugee, pass background checks, and create a support plan.
Under the current USRAP program, individuals granted refugee status outside the United States can only enter the country through a formal refugee resettlement agency, which helps arrange shelter, food, and employment assistance for newly arrived refugees. However, refugee resettlement agencies only operate in specific areas and are still operating at limited capacity after the Trump administration’s move to slash refugee admissions to their lowest in history.
The new private sponsorship program will permit individuals to enter the country even in areas where there are no active refugee resettlement organizations. Unlike parole programs such as Uniting for Ukraine, individuals who enter through this program will have formal refugee status and will be eligible for a green card within a short period of time. The Biden administration hopes to admit at least 5,000 refugees through this new process during the rest of Fiscal Year 2023.
The following statement is from Jeremy Robbins, Executive Director, American Immigration Council:
“The United States Refugee Admissions Program has long been a source of pride, protecting people from persecution while helping strengthen communities across the country. Now, the Biden administration is stepping forward to help everyday Americans take part in welcoming refugees through a private sponsorship model to increase this country’s capacity to support the most vulnerable. The American Immigration Council applauds the administration’s innovative initiative and urges similar policies going forward that demonstrate a commitment to humanitarian protection.
“As the nearly 200,000 sponsorship applications through the Uniting for Ukraine program showed, people in the United States want to step up and support refugees. But while the Uniting for Ukraine program provides only temporary relief for Ukrainians fleeing the war, people sponsored through the new program will enter the United States with formal refugee status, allowing them to stay permanently.
“The Biden administration has set an ambitious goal of resettling 125,000 refugees each year but has so far fallen short of that target. If the administration provides the funding and resources needed to ensure the program’s success, this new process may not only help the administration reach this important goal—it may also transform the way that we treat refugees around the world, creating a system that is nimbler and more responsive for those in dire need of help. In the coming weeks, we hope faith groups, nonprofit organizations, and individuals come together to support refugees fleeing persecution from around the globe.”