Pataje

What is the private sponsorship of refugees program?

The private sponsorship program in the U.S. is called the Welcome Corps. It is a U.S. Department of State program that allows American citizens and permanent residents to voluntarily support refugees. Sponsors can provide refugees with the necessary assistance to start a new life in the USA. Learn about the process and requirements.

Mizajou February 1, 2024

What is sponsorship?

Sponsorship refers to the support given to refugees for resettlement in a new country. Refugees can get this support through resettlement agencies or private sponsorship through the Welcome Corps. 

Traditional refugee resettlement involves direct support from the government. The government takes responsibility for providing financial aid, housing, and other essential services through resettlement agencies.

Private sponsorship involves groups from the community who voluntarily take on the role of supporting refugees. In the United States, this is part of the Welcome Corps. Private sponsors assist refugees with finding housing, offering financial support, and helping refugees integrate into the community.

What are the types of private sponsorship?

There are two types of sponsorship through the Welcome Corps:

  • Matching sponsorship: Sponsor groups are assigned a refugee or family approved for resettlement, without prior personal connections.
  • Naming sponsorship: Sponsor groups choose to support a specific refugee or family they already know personally.
Private sponsorship is through a group of five members called a private sponsor group (PSG). An organization that supports sponsor groups is called a private sponsor organization (PSO). It is important to note that organizations can not sponsor you.

Information for those seeking sponsorship

What are the requirements to be sponsored?

The Welcome Corps offers an eligibility tool that can help you know if you can be in this program.

To be sponsored by someone you know and come to the USA, you must:

  • Have been registered as a refugee by UNHCR or your current local government on or before September 30, 2023. If you are a refugee from Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua, or Venezuela, a Form I-134 must have been filed on your behalf before September 30, 2023. You must have been outside your country of nationality at the time the form was filed.
  • Currently live outside your home country in a nation approved for sponsorship processing. 
  • Currently live outside of the United States.
  • Be over the age of 18, or be processed together with a parent or legal guardian. Unaccompanied minors are not eligible.
  • Complete all required interviews, screenings, and vetting processes.
  • Be approved for resettlement in the United States by the U.S. government.
Under U.S. law, a refugee is someone who had to leave their home country because their life is in danger because of their race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or being part of a certain social group.  

There are no nationality requirements. You can be from any country to be sponsored.  

Who is not eligible?

Individuals who do not meet the criteria or who live in certain countries are not eligible at this time.

  • You are not eligible to be sponsored by someone you know if you registered for refugee status after September 30, 2023. You must already be a registered refugee in another country before this date to be eligible. Some people are moving to different countries now to register for this program. Do not move to a different country to become eligible for the program. The Welcome Corps will not accept an application on your behalf. 
  • Refugees living in certain countries are not eligible for private sponsorship. There are many possible reasons for this. Refugees from one of these countries may still be eligible if they do not currently live there. See the full list of these countries
  • Unaccompanied minors are not eligible for private sponsorship. All children under the age of 18 must be sponsored together with their parent or legal guardian. This rule is in place to protect children. 
Warning: Participation in the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program, including through the Welcome Corps, is always free. You do not have to pay money to apply to this program. If someone tells you that they can get you into the program if you give them money or a favor, it is a scam. Report any individual or group doing this to [email protected]

How do I find a private sponsor?

For refugees, finding a private sponsor is not a direct process. To be matched with a sponsor you don’t know, you first need to be approved for resettlement in the U.S. through the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program. If you are approved to be sponsored, you will be informed by staff at your Resettlement Support Center.

No one can guarantee or help you get special entry into the program. All refugees must go through the official U.S. Refugee Admissions Program and be approved by the U.S. government.

Can someone I know sponsor me?

Yes, but your sponsor must request it. If you know someone in the U.S. willing to sponsor you, they can apply to sponsor you through a referral. They must meet the application requirements to become a sponsor group. They need to provide information about all family members in their application. This information will be used by the U.S. government to decide your refugee case. Learn more.

What can I expect if I am sponsored? 

As a sponsored refugee in the USA, you will get help with finding a place to live and the basic things you need. You can also get government help and benefits. This includes healthcare, schooling for your children, help finding a job, and other services to make settling in easier. 

Sponsored refugees will not come to the United States faster than refugees resettled through the public process. All refugees entering the USA go through the same processing requirements. 

What are other sponsorship programs?

Other sponsorship programs available are:

These two programs have different rules than those listed on this page.

Information for sponsors in the U.S.

What are the requirements to be a private sponsor?

To become a private sponsor, you must:

  1. Be an American citizen or permanent resident.
  2. Form a group of at least five members.
  3. Live near where the refugee will be resettled.
  4. Complete background checks and agree to a code of conduct.
  5. Provide a detailed support plan for the refugee.

How do I become a private sponsor?

Apply through the Welcome Corps. You’ll need to form a sponsor group and meet certain requirements like background checks and preparing a support plan for the refugee.

Sponsors can only file one application at a time. A single application can be for an individual or a family. 

Can I request a specific person to sponsor?

Yes, you can choose to sponsor a specific refugee or refugee family that you already know. You must apply to the Welcome Corps for a referral and provide information about the person you wish to sponsor.

Safety

The Welcome Corps has several measures to make sure the process is safe. All private sponsors have background checks and must adhere to a strict code of conduct. Refugees go through formal vetting procedures that include extensive interviews, security screening by U.S. agencies, and health checks.

Refugees should be aware that they are not required to pay, work for, or move near anyone to access the program. Any such demands should be reported immediately to the Welcome Corps at [email protected].


Enfòmasyon ki nan paj sa a vini de Welcome Corps, Community Sponsorship Hub, ECDC, ak lòt sous nou ka fè konfyans. Nou vize pou ofri enfòmasyon fasil pou konprann ki mete ajou regilyèman. Enfòmasyon sa a se pa konsèy jiridik.

Pataje