Biden Administration Set to Launch Pilot Program to Permit Americans to Directly Sponsor Refugees 

On Thursday, according to two sources, the Biden administration said it would launch a new pilot program to permit groups of Americans to sponsor refugees

Welcome Corps, a State Department program, will allow private American citizens to sponsor refugees as part of the Refugee Resettlement Program if they can pass background checks, raise enough money, and come up with a plan for how to support them. 

The program will require groups of five or more people to raise a minimum amount of $2,275 per refugee before passing the checks. According to reports, the program aims to find sponsors for 5,000 refugees by the end of the fiscal year 2023 in September. The announcement is expected to be made Thursday. 

The plan for the private sponsorship program was announced previously, and a 2022 launch was planned; however, it was delayed. 

“The purpose of the program is to increase and deepen the involvement of local communities in effective refugee resettlement, recognizing the significant and impactful role that local community actors have long played in supporting the welcome and integration of refugees admitted to the United States through the [U.S. Refugee Admissions Program]” said the agency in the report. 

“The program is intended to complement the Reception and Placement Program by creating new, additional opportunities for individuals and organizations nationwide to be directly engaged in supporting refugee resettlement.”

The State Department said it will launch the program as a pilot program to allow for testing and evaluation of various components of the program, as well as “identify the successful elements of the pilot that will form the basis of an effective, sustainable private sponsorship that becomes a foundational part of U.S. refugee resettlement.”

Biden administration reversed limits set by Trump administration

The Biden administration has substantially reversed the refugee resettlement limits introduced during President Donald Trump’s administration. The Trump administration reduced the refugee yearly cap to 15,000. Under President Biden, the administration has changed course and increased the cap to 125,000; however, refugee resettlements have not yet come close to reaching that level.

The administration has also allowed the sponsorship of evacuees from both Ukraine and Afghanistan by private individuals as part of its broader commitment to opening legal avenues for refugees and migrants fleeing turmoil in their countries. Under the president, a program launched last year aims to bring 100,000 Ukrainians to the U.S. through a program using humanitarian parole authority after Russia invaded Ukraine. That program does not contribute to the cap on refugees. 

Recently, the Biden administration announced another expanded humanitarian parole program that allows up to 30,000 Cuban, Nicaraguan, Venezuelan, and Haitian migrants to fly to the United States if they have a U.S.-based sponsor. This comes in response to the growing surge of migrants at the southern border.