Summary: The Welcome Corps initiative, billed as a private sponsorship program for refugees, hands over the control of most of the resettlement process to refugee advocates in the United States and allows them to select their own refugees, who are future American citizens. Far from being purely privately funded, U.S. taxpayer funds will be used to resettle refugees through this program.
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Two years into the Biden presidency, the State Department announced the launch of a private sponsorship program for refugees within the U.S. resettlement program, the Welcome Corps, which “empowers everyday Americans to play a leading role in welcoming refugees arriving through the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) and supporting their resettlement and integration as they build new lives in the United States.”
Under this new program, refugees will be selected for resettlement into the United States and then assisted during their first few months here by private individuals. These prerogatives were, until now, those of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and nine religious or community-based organizations called “resettlement agencies”. UNHCR was entrusted with the selection and referral of refugees for resettlement into the United States, while resettlement agencies were funded by the Department of State to assist refugees upon arrival.
This will no longer exclusively be the case with the launching of the Welcome Corps. This doesn’t mean that refugees will stop being selected for resettlement by UNHCR and assisted upon arrival by resettlement agencies. The U.S. resettlement program is just expanding by allowing private individuals (backed by various humanitarian organizations) to take on the primary responsibility of selecting, welcoming, and providing initial support to refugees. It will not replace, but is complementary to, the traditional resettlement process led by UNHCR and resettlement agencies.
This new private sponsorship program designed by the Biden administration is being presented as historic. According to the State Department Office of the Spokesperson, “The Welcome Corps is the boldest innovation in refugee resettlement in four decades.” (Emphasis in original.) Sasha Chanoff, founder of the nonprofit organization RefugePoint, told Reuters that this could very well be “one of the most significant developments for the U.S. refugee program since it began in 1980”.
This initiative is indeed game-changing, it hands over the control of most of the resettlement process to refugee advocates in the United States (whether private individuals or organizations) and allows them to select their own refugees and future American citizens. American taxpayer funds (and not just private ones as widely publicized) will be used to resettle “privately-sponsored” refugees through this program. Could this fast and privileged access to U.S. protection and citizenship be an invitation for preferential treatment and potential fraud?
I will be following-up on this program and its impacts as it unfolds. For now, this report sheds some light on numerous issues at stake here: the Welcome Corps modus operandi, its numerous key actors and power strings, its funding sources, and its ultimate “fairness” and goal.
A number of important takeaways:
- The Welcome Corps is in line with the directives of the 2016 “New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants” that was adopted by UN member states, including the United States under the Obama administration.
- The Welcome Corps follows numerous “private” sponsorship programs designed by the Biden administration to welcome nationals from Afghanistan, Ukraine, Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Venezuela into the United States. All of these programs presented as “private” largely depend on federal funds (i.e., taxpayer dollars). All follow expedited procedures and allow individuals already here to pick those who get to join.
- It is not just “everyday Americans” who will be able to act as sponsors under the Welcome Corps; green card holders (likely including those with conditional two-year green cards) will be able to do so as well. Which means that newly resettled refugees — who by U.S. law are required to apply for a green card one year after arrival — can now decide who gets to follow them here and who gets a chance to become American.
- Traditionally, the United States chooses the refugees it resettles almost solely based on referrals from UNHCR. According to the UN refugee agency, of the 21.3 million refugees under its mandate in 2023, only two million are “in need of resettlement”. Will those picked for resettlement by private sponsors fall under this category or will they be randomly chosen following friends/family ties? How fair is this process to refugees who are in desperate need of this “critical lifeline”? Moreover, can this private sponsorship render the resettlement program more vulnerable to fraud and corruption?
- The Welcome Corps is presented as a private sponsorship arrangement, but it mostly relies on federal funds. Groups of at least five sponsors can apply to form Private Sponsor Groups (PSGs) to select and welcome refugees into their communities. PSGs will be supported and overseen by community organizations (including resettlement agencies) acting as Private Sponsor Organizations (PSOs).
- Sponsors commit to providing financial support for the refugees’ initial 90 days in the United States ($2,275 per refugee), but since 90 days are obviously insufficient for successful integration into American society, they also commit “to making connections to ongoing supports and services, available from local organizations”. Refugees do have access to numerous government-funded services beyond the initial three months.
- The State Department is funding a consortium of non-profit organizations (including resettlement agencies) with expertise in welcoming, resettling, and integrating refugees into U.S. communities to implement the Welcome Corps. The consortium will make funds available to PSOs who in turn assist and fund PSGs.
- The “coordinating partner” of the Welcome Corps is the Community Sponsorship Hub (CSH), the “first organization in the United States solely dedicated to growing community sponsorship”. CSH is a sponsored project of the Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, Inc.
- The Welcome Corps is not about “everyday Americans” coming together to raise some $2,000 and assist refugees here during their initial 90 days, it is about force-pulling the marionette’s strings.
Years in the Making
The Welcome Corps initiative was to be expected; the Biden administration announced its future launch back in September 2022 in its “Report to Congress on Proposed Refugee Admissions for Fiscal Year 2023”. In fact, as underlined by the government affairs manager for immigration policy at the Niskanen Center (one of the organizations pushing for this “private” process), this program was eight years in the making. The concept materialized in 2016 in line with the directives of the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants that was adopted by UN member states (including the United States under the Obama administration), and laid the groundwork for two UN global compacts, the “Global Compact on Refugees (GCR)” and the “Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM)”. The Trump administration voted no on both compacts; the Biden administration issued a statement endorsing “the vision contained in the GCM”.
In accordance with this NY Declaration, member states agreed, among other things, to:
consider the expansion of existing humanitarian admission programmes, possible temporary evacuation programmes, including evacuation for medical reasons, flexible arrangements to assist family reunification, private sponsorship for individual refugees and opportunities for labour mobility for refugees, including through private sector partnerships, and for education, such as scholarships and student visas. [All emphases in this report are added unless specified otherwise.]
The Welcome Corps will allow for the private sponsorship of refugees but will also “open opportunities for colleges and universities across the United States to sponsor refugee students on their campuses, providing critical financial, academic, and integration support to sponsored students”. One of its coordinating partners is Every Campus a Refuge (ECAR), whose mission is to “[m]obilize colleges and universities to host refugees on campus grounds and support them in their resettlement”.
USRAP Process: What Will Change?
Here’s how the traditional refugee resettlement program, U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP), worked and will continue to work. The “Welcome Corps” processing, within USRAP, will follow its own rules and procedures. I will elaborate on those later in this report. In this section, I point to a number of differences between the traditional USRAP and the Welcome Corps program while raising various unknowns (in italics).
Refugee Status Determinations and Resettlement Referrals
The refugee resettlement program was set up under the auspices of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). The UN refugee agency, established in 1950 by the General Assembly, has the international mandate to determine who is (and who is not) attributed refugee status (known as Refugee Status Determination, RSD), to provide refugee assistance, and to decide who is eligible for resettlement in third countries.
Resettlement is the transfer of refugees from an asylum country to another country that has agreed to admit them and grant them permanent residence. In the United States, a resettled refugee has to apply for a green card one year after arrival and can apply for a U.S. citizenship four years later (and not five, since the first year is counted toward the time for citizenship eligibility).
UNHCR is mandated by its statute and General Assembly Resolutions to undertake resettlement as one of the three durable solutions; the other two are voluntary repatriation and local integration in the country of first asylum. Many refugees cannot return home, many also live “in perilous situations or have specific needs that cannot be addressed in the country where they have sought protection”. In such circumstances, UNHCR refers refugees to be resettled in a third country. Less than 1 percent of the total number of refugees (21.3 million under UNHCR’s mandate in 2022) are resettled each year.
Resettlement follows numerous stages:
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) approves an individual’s refugee status overseas. The U.S. Department of State oversees refugees’ travel to and placement within the United States, and supports their initial 30–90 days of resettlement in their new communities. Resettlement agencies and ORR then support their longer-term resettlement and integration into the United States.
The Department of State’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM) works closely with UNHCR (and occasionally with U.S. diplomatic missions and other partners) to identify candidates for resettlement through USRAP. The Biden administration underlined the role of UNHCR within the U.S. refugee resettlement program in its Report to Congress on Proposed Refugee Admissions for Fiscal Year 2023: “UNHCR, which has the international mandate to provide protection to refugees worldwide, has historically referred the vast majority of [resettlement] cases to the United States.”
So, traditionally, UNHCR grants individuals refugee status and then refers those among the refugees who it deems are “in need of resettlement” to the United States (and to other countries). UNHCR also collects initial documentation and biographical information.
Under the Welcome Corps, private sponsors in the United States will be able to refer individuals for resettlement, but questions remain unanswered. On what basis will that selection take place? And what role, if any, will UNHCR play in this process? Who will determine and grant (or not) “refugee status” to individuals and collect initial information? USCIS refugee officers are to approve (or not) an individual’s refugee status overseas. But that refugee status was granted by whom, initially? Can individuals who do not hold refugee status be referred for resettlement by private sponsors?
When an applicant is referred to USRAP for consideration, the case is received and processed by a Resettlement Support Center (RSC). PRM funds seven RSCs around the world operated by non-governmental organizations (NGOs), international organizations, or U.S. embassy contractors. Three RSCs — Church World Service (CWS), the International Rescue Committee (IRC), and the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS) — are also "resettlement agencies" that are funded by the State Department to receive, place, and assist refugees inside the United States.
RSCs act as overseas processing entities that pre-screen refugees abroad and help them build their cases to submit to U.S. officials for resettlement. Under PRM’s guidance, RSCs collect biographic and other information from the applicants to prepare cases for security screening, interview, and adjudication by DHS’s U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). RSC staff conduct an in-depth interview with the applicant, enter the applicant's documentation into the Department of State's Worldwide Refugee Admissions Processing System (WRAPS) and send the information necessary to conduct a background check to other U.S. agencies.
Who is in charge of referring resettlement cases to RSCs if it’s no longer UNHCR? And will RSCs continue to act as overseas processing entities for privately sponsored individuals?
Security Checks Begin
U.S. national security agencies, including the National Counterterrorism Center, FBI, Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Department of Defense, and the Department of State, as well as the intelligence community, begin screening the applicant using the data transmitted from the RSCs.
Security screening results from each agency are transmitted back to DHS and the State Department.
Under the Welcome Corps, we are told that “Only those refugee applicants who are cleared through an extensive security vetting process, including vetting by U.S. government law enforcement and intelligence agencies, are approved for resettlement to the United States.”
All refugees admitted through the USRAP, including those sponsored through the Welcome Corps, have to complete “thorough security vetting and a health screening by the U.S. government”. That said, the resettlement program is not impermeable to fraud. By UNHCR’s own admission, resettlement spots are valuable commodities. Could this private selection of candidates render the resettlement program more vulnerable to fraud and corruption?
Specially trained DHS officers review initial screening results, conduct in-person interviews in the host country, and collect biometric data from the applicants. The DHS interview confirms the information collected from the previous interviews conducted by the State Department’s RSCs. ... Once all interviews and checks are complete, DHS adjudicates the case, the decision is entered into WRAPS, and the process continues.
The adjudication of cases by USCIS trained refugee officers follow these guidelines:
The Secretary of Homeland Security has delegated to USCIS the authority to determine eligibility for refugee status under the INA. Refugee determinations under the INA are entirely discretionary. USCIS officers review the information that the RSC has collected and the results of security screening processes and conduct an in-person interview with each refugee applicant before deciding whether to approve him or her for classification as a refugee.
If an applicant is conditionally approved for resettlement by USCIS, RSC staff guide the refugee applicant through post-adjudication steps, including a health screening to identify medical needs and to ensure that those with a contagious disease do not enter the United States. The RSC also obtains a “sponsorship assurance” from a U.S.-based resettlement agency that receives funding from PRM for Reception and Placement (R&P) assistance. Once all required steps are completed, the RSC refers the case to the International Organization for Migration (IOM) for transportation to the United States.
“Privately sponsored” refugees can travel to the United States in just “1-2 months” after their application has been approved. Does this mean that the process (including security checks) for refugees under the “Welcome Corps” is expedited? Are they being interviewed faster, and are their cases being prioritized over others?
Cultural Orientation: Applicants complete a class designed to teach them about American culture, customs and practices.
Medical Check: All refugees approved by DHS undergo a medical screening to identify diseases of public health significance.
The results of the medical examination are entered into WRAPS. If a case is cleared after the medical check, the process continues.
Fingerprints collected by U.S. government employees are stored in a DHS database and screened against the FBI biometric database; the DHS biometric database; and the U.S. Department of Defense database. Fingerprint results are reviewed by DHS. Problematic cases are denied, otherwise, the process continues.
Reception and Placement (R&P)
Inside the United States, resettlement agencies have contracts with the Department of State to assist refugees upon arrival and are in charge of their Reception and Placement (R&P) in American communities. Unlike asylees, who arrive in the United States on their own, refugees selected for resettlement through USRAP are eligible for R&P assistance: “Each refugee approved for admission to the United States is sponsored by a resettlement agency. Several non-profit resettlement agencies [nine] participate in the R&P Program under a cooperative agreement with the Department of State.”
Representatives from the resettlement agencies meet frequently to review the biographic information and other case records sent by the Department of State’s overseas Resettlement Support Centers (RSC), seeking to match the particular needs of each incoming refugee with the specific resources available in U.S. communities. Through this process, they determine which resettlement agency will sponsor and where each refugee will be initially resettled in the United States.
Resettlement agencies place refugees throughout the United States; they decide in which state and American community each refugee is placed.
Resettlement agencies try to reunite refugees with family or friends already here, if any. Others are placed “where they have the best opportunity for success through employment with the assistance of strong community services. Through its local affiliates, each agency monitors the resources that each community offers (e.g., interpreters who speak various languages, the size and special features of available housing, the availability of schools with special services, medical care, English classes, employment services, etc.).”
Once these placement decisions are made, the placement is recorded in WRAPS, and the refugee is notified of their destination.
Private sponsors (assisted by numerous organizations, including resettlement agencies) will be in charge of the R&P of refugees. The State Department is funding a “consortium of non-profit organizations with expertise in welcoming, resettling, and integrating refugees into U.S. communities” to implement the Welcome Corps.
The Department of State funds the international transportation of refugees resettled in the United States through a program administered by IOM [International Organization for Migration]. The cost of transportation is provided to refugees in the form of a no-interest loan. Refugees are responsible for repaying these loans over time through their R&P providers, beginning six months after their arrival.
Under the agreement, “refugees have to agree to pay back the loan within 42 months (three and a half years), and the average monthly payment is $85, says the State Department.” As reported by Newsweek in 2015, the average loan amount for each refugee was $1,200 , and the average number of people in a refugee family is 2.1, making the average loan at that time for U.S.-bound refugees $2,500. Prices of airline tickets have gone up since then.
IOM covers the cost “of U.S.-bound tickets with funding provided by the State Department's Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration. The loan money repaid to the U.S. government is invested back into the U.S. refugee program, according to the State Department.”
Under their cooperative agreements with PRM:
R&P agencies responsible for IOM loan collection activities retain 25 percent of gross loan repayments they collect. This is to cover their loan collection costs and support resettlement agency programs. The remaining net repayments are returned to IOM to defray the cost to the United States of future refugee resettlement transportation.
In 2017, refugees made over $66 million in loan repayments, of which over $14 million went to the resettlement agencies. According to the New York Times, “Some advocates think that these agencies should not be taking money from those they are trying to help.” To their defense, these nonprofits “claim that these fees go toward their administration costs and programming, all of which is focused on giving refugees long-term financial security”.
It can be safe to assume that IOM will still be receiving funds from PRM so it can book airline tickets for refugees to fly to the United States. What is not certain, however, is who will be responsible for that loan repayment collection and who will retain 25 percent of those repayments under the Welcome Corps.
Prior to entry in the U.S., applicants are subject to screening from U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and the Transportation Security Administration's Secure Flight Program. Applicants with no security concerns continue their travel.
Applicants arrive in the United States, where representatives from nine domestic resettlement agencies welcome refugees at the airport and begin the process of helping them settle in to their new communities. Those welcoming refugees at the airport under the Welcome Corps program will be private sponsors.
Who Can Be a Private Sponsor?
This new program, as Secretary of State Antony Blinken explained, “will enable Americans to sponsor refugees arriving through the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP), directly support their resettlement, and make a difference by welcoming these new neighbors into their communities.”
But it is not just “Americans” who will be able to act as sponsors under this program; green card holders (likely including those with conditional two-year green cards — i.e. those who could end up being removable from the United States) will be able to do so as well. So newly resettled refugees — who by U.S. law are required to apply for a green card one year after arrival — can now decide who gets to follow them here and who gets a chance to become American.
We are told that this program will “build on the extraordinary response of the American people over the past year in welcoming our Afghan allies, Ukrainians displaced by war, Venezuelans, and others fleeing violence and oppression”.
I wrote in detail about “Uniting for Ukraine”, a “private” sponsorship program for Ukrainians. A “U.S.-based supporter” for a beneficiary under Uniting for Ukraine need not be a U.S. national, citizen, or lawful permanent resident (green card holder); other individuals lawfully present in the United States can also sponsor Ukrainians under the program. Examples of individuals who meet the supporter requirement include:
- U.S. citizens and nationals;
- Lawful permanent residents, lawful temporary residents, and conditional permanent residents;
- Nonimmigrants in lawful status (that is, who maintain the nonimmigrant status and have not violated any of the terms or conditions of the nonimmigrant status);
- Asylees, refugees, and parolees;
- TPS holders; and
- Beneficiaries of deferred action (including DACA) or Deferred Enforced Departure.
The same goes for sponsors under the new “Processes for Cubans, Haitians, Nicaraguans, and Venezuelans”; they need not be American citizens or green card holders, but can be asylees, refugees, parolees, or those benefiting from TPS or DED.
With regard to the Afghan Family Reunification Program, it allows for Afghan parolees to sponsor their family members as refugees into the United States.
On the other hand, to be able to act as a sponsor under the new “Welcome Corps” program, one needs to be an American citizen or permanent resident (green card holder) over the age of 18. Those holding “conditional permanent residence” will likely be included, too. A conditional permanent resident receives a green card valid for two years. Conditional green cards cannot be renewed; one must file to remove the conditions on the permanent resident status 90 days before it expires. If the conditions are not removed before the expiry date, one will lose the permanent resident status and become removable from the United States.
Americans or permanent residents can apply to form Private Sponsor Groups (PSGs) to welcome refugees into their communities. Groups of at least five sponsors who live in or near the same community need to be formed and work together to privately sponsor refugees in the United States.
Selection of Refugees
The Welcome Corps program will run in two phases:
In the first phase, during the first six months of 2023, “private sponsors participating in the Welcome Corps will be matched with refugees whose cases are already approved for resettlement under the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP).”
In the second phase, which begins in mid-2023, “private sponsors will be able to identify refugees to refer to the USRAP for resettlement and support the refugees they have identified.”
But “identify” how? On what grounds will those “privately sponsored” refugees be selected for resettlement to the United States starting mid-2023?
To begin with, could candidates for resettlement under the Welcome Corps not even be “refugees” yet? Will they be holding refugee status per UNHCR’s refugee determinations? Simply put, were they initially granted refugee status by UNHCR before they were referred to resettlement by a private sponsor, or were they granted refugee status by USCIS officers after they were referred for resettlement and their application was processed?
We are told that private sponsors through the Welcome Corps “will support individuals who have been found to be refugees by the Department of Homeland Security’s U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services”. Were they picked for resettlement because they were already classified as refugees or just because someone in the United States knows them or knows of them and decided to sponsor them here, after which they became “refugees”? In other words, does private sponsorship allow for refugee status determination and not just resettlement?
Second, on what basis are these resettlement referrals by private sponsors made? Traditionally, the United States, as noted earlier, chooses the refugees it resettles through USRAP almost solely based on referrals from UNHCR. According to UNHCR, resettlement is meant to be a “critical lifeline for refugees”. It is “often the best option for refugees who cannot return home and cannot reside safely in the country to which they have fled”, notes RefugePoint, an organization that “identifies at-risk refugees and connects them with resettlement opportunities.” RefugePoint is expected to play a major role in the Welcome Corps.
This “critical lifeline” is obviously not for all; it is just the tip of the iceberg. Of the 21.3 million refugees under UNHCR’s mandate, only two million are in need of resettlement in 2023, according to the refugee agency. And out of those two million, only a small proportion of refugees will end up being resettled, whether in the United States or other countries. In 2022, UNHCR submitted only 116,481 refugees for resettlement in various countries, including the United States.
The Welcome Corps, we are told by the Biden administration, “will ultimately be a key part of the U.S. refugee resettlement system, providing a life-saving lifeline to vulnerable people in need of resettlement.” Does this mean that privately sponsored refugees will be picked from the two million who are in real “need of resettlement” in 2023 according to the UN Refugee agency, or will they, instead, be randomly chosen by a private sponsors here? Could family/friends ties come into play here?
According to a recent Data for Progress survey, “a strong majority of Americans support the U.S. refugee program, especially when they know someone who is a refugee.” By the same token, it would be correct to assume that someone is more likely to sponsor a refugee if that person already knows one.
Only 14% of U.S. voters say they know someone who is a refugee. But 89% of people who know a refugee support the U.S. refugee resettlement program. Imagine what could happen if more Americans knew the refugees & forcibly displaced ppl in their communities?
So recently resettled refugees in the United States (but also other newcomers who made it here in recent years and were granted green cards) can now start sponsoring their friends, neighbors, and family members. Why this preferential treatment, especially when we know that it takes “regular” refugees on average 18-24 months to be resettled here, while those who are privately sponsored are expected to make it in just “1-2 months” after their application has been approved?
Furthermore, PSGs do not need to identify “a particular refugee in their application; the Welcome Corps team will match sponsors to refugees selected for resettlement to the United States.”
Here are instructions given to private sponsors:
As part of your Welcome Corps application, your Private Sponsor Group (PSG) will indicate the family size you are able to welcome, along with information about your community’s resources. This information, along with other information on your community, is used by Welcome Corps to identify a refugee family that can benefit from the support of your community. Once your application is approved, Welcome Corps team members will be in touch to inform you when they have identified a refugee family for your PSG to welcome.
Supporting Organizations and Funding
The coordinating partner of the Welcome Corps is the Community Sponsorship Hub (CSH) . CSH is the “first organization in the United States solely dedicated to growing community sponsorship”. It is involved in activities such as “sponsor mobilization, sponsor vetting and certification, sponsor training and support, identification and matching of refugees to waiting sponsors, monitoring evaluation, and research”.
CSH is a sponsored project of the Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, Inc. The CSH team and advisory board can be found here. To name a few members on their advisory board: Diya Abdo, director of Every Campus a Refuge (ECAR); Ed Shapiro, managing trustee of the Shapiro Foundation; Gregory Maniatis, program director at International Migration Initiative at Open Society Foundation; and Becca Heller, executive director and co-founder of International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP).
The Community Sponsorship Hub (CSH), alongside the International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP), Amnesty International USA (AIUSA), and the Niskanen Center offered a number of recommendations for the private sponsorship program’s design as the U.S. Department of State drew closer to launching the private sponsorship pilot program for refugees, as stated in the president’s ”Report to Congress on Proposed Refugee Admissions for Fiscal Year 2022”.
These are some of their recommendations:
Private sponsorship should be used to increase the number of refugees resettled in the United States annually.
For a private sponsorship program to be successful, it must be designed as a part of a broader community sponsorship system, inclusive of co-sponsorship as offered through resettlement agencies. PRM should design a community sponsorship system that streamlines opportunities for engagement, maximizing resources and making it easier for prospective users of the system (e.g., sponsors and institutions) to navigate and engage.
Refugees are primarily referred for traditional resettlement through USRAP by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), embassies, or immediate family members. For private sponsorship, another option is an open “identification,” alternatively called “naming” or nomination, of refugees by sponsors.
The Community Sponsorship Hub is “proud to lead the Welcome Corps consortium of organizations advancing private sponsorship in the United States.” This “consortium of non-profit organizations with expertise in welcoming, resettling, and integrating refugees into U.S. communities” is funded by the Department of State to implement the Welcome Corps.
The consortium includes “six leading organizations with expertise in refugee resettlement, protection and welcome: Church World Service, CSH, International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP), International Rescue Committee (IRC), IRIS — Integrated Refugee & Immigrant Services and Welcome.US”.
Two members of the Welcome Corps consortium (CWS and IRC) are also “resettlement agencies” i.e. they receive funds from the government to assist resettled refuges in the United States.
For those not familiar with Welcome.US, it is a “new national initiative built to inspire, mobilize, and empower Americans from all corners of the country to welcome and support those seeking refuge here.” That said, those who seek refuge are not necessarily refugees. Welcome.US helped with the settling of Afghans and Ukrainians who, for the most part, were not granted refugee status but “parole” — parole in the immigration context is described as “official permission to enter and remain temporarily in the United States” and does not constitute a “formal admission under the U.S. immigration system”. The Welcome.US honorary co-chairs are all the former presidents and their wives, with the exception of the Trumps.
Led by the Community Sponsorship Hub, the Welcome Corps consortium “will offer expert guidance and support to Americans joining the Welcome Corps” and will manage the Welcome Corps’ program infrastructure including:
- Overseeing vetting and certification of private sponsors through an application process;
- Providing training, additional resources, and connections to equip private sponsors with the knowledge, skills, and tools needed to welcome refugees; and
- Monitoring the program to ensure privately sponsored refugees are getting the support they need for success and collecting data to evaluate the program.
Private sponsors will not be working alone, PSGs will be assisted by Private Sponsor Organizations (PSOs):
Community organizations and institutions may also apply to participate in the Welcome Corps as Private Sponsor Organizations (PSOs) to mobilize, support, and oversee private sponsors. As the Welcome Corps launches, a range of organizations are stepping forward as PSOs including Alight, Every Campus A Refuge, HIAS, Home for Refugees USA, IRIS – Integrated Refugee and Immigrant Services, the International Rescue Committee, Rainbow Railroad, and WelcomeNST.
Many of the organizations “stepping forward as PSOs” are non-profits that already receive grants from the government for their work in general. Some (such as HIAS and IRC) are also resettlement agencies (i.e. funded by the government to assist resettled refugees here).
Some PSOs received millions in government funding, accounting for a significant share of their total revenue. (The numbers are from their 2019 tax returns, since the 2020 tax returns could be misleading due to the receipt of Paycheck Protection Program loans because of the Covid-19 pandemic.) For example:
- Alight (aka American Refugee Committee) received $43,264,363 from the government (68.7 percent of its total contributions and grants);
- HIAS: $ 21,409,292 (40.9 percent);
- IRIS – Integrated Refugee and Immigrant Services: $1,321,250 (32.8 percent);
- International Rescue Committee got $464,144,168 (59 percent).
In any case, organizations that desire to act as PSOs (whether or not they already receive government grants for their general work) will be getting funds from the consortium (which in turn is funded by the government to implement the Welcome Corps). The consortium will also be receiving private aid: “With strong support from private philanthropists, the consortium will make funds available to qualifying Private Sponsor Organizations to support their efforts.” Furthermore, to complement the work of both PSOs and the consortium, the Department of Health and Human Services will “continue to support U.S. states as they build infrastructure and outreach capacity to welcome and support new arrivals’ integration into their new communities.”
It should come as no surprise that there are many more PSOs in the making. Over 200 organizations have already expressed support for the Welcome Corps, many of which already receive government grants (including, but not only, resettlement agencies). The entire list of the 200-plus organizations is available at the end of this report.
Refugee Financial Support and Benefits
Under the Welcome Corps, the Private Sponsor Group is to provide “each refugee newcomer with basic financial supports during the initial 90-day sponsorship period, $2,275 per sponsored individual”. This aligns with the “per capita each resettlement agency receives for each refugee resettled through the R&P program (as of FY 2022, $2,275)”. As a reminder, the State Department, through the Reception and Placement program, “provides resettlement agencies a one-time payment per refugee to assist with expenses during a refugee’s first three months in the United States.”
Sponsors commit to “providing friendship, guidance, and financial support for the refugees’ initial 90 days in the United States”, but since 90 days is obviously insufficient for successful integration into American society, they also commit “to making connections to ongoing supports and services, available from local organizations”.
Refugees do have access to numerous government-funded services beyond the initial three months. Beyond R&P, the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) “works through the states and other non-governmental organizations to provide longer-term cash and medical assistance, as well as language, employment, and social services.” Refugees are eligible to receive “ORR refugee benefits and services from the first day they arrive in the United States”.
ORR’s mission is to “help refugees transition into the United States by providing benefits and assistance to achieve integration as soon as possible”. To that end, ORR funds and administers a number of programs, including Refugee Cash Assistance and Refugee Medical Assistance. In March of last year, both programs were extended from eight to 12 months.
So, how private is this private sponsorship? A private sponsor group (PSG) is supposed to come up with $2,275 per refugee they wish to sponsor. If this is not attainable, a PSG can begin by setting up a fundraising account and reaching out to members of their community to encourage them to donate.
That said, sponsors who need to come up with some cash to help refugees during their first three months in the United States can rely on organizations acting as PSOs who in turn will be getting funds from the consortium (funded by the government to implement the Welcome Corps). Furthermore, most of the resettlement process, including travel to the United States and access to federal benefits once here, is still based on taxpayer money.
Uniting for Ukraine was similarly presented as a private sponsorship arrangement. But there, too, taxpayer dollars could be used as added support in the Declaration of Financial Support form submitted to admit a Ukrainian beneficiary into the United States.
The “private” sponsorship under Uniting for Ukraine, as in the Welcome Corps, seems more linked to federal money than it is to individual resources.
Under the Welcome Corps, this responsibility is now shifting to PSGs. PSGs will be guided and funded by the Welcome Corps consortium and by private sponsor organizations (many of which are also resettlement agencies).
One reason is because resettlement agencies are overwhelmed:
State Refugee Coordinators, State Refugee Health Coordinators, and resettlement agencies are knowledgeable of available benefits and resources; however, given their other responsibilities, they should not be relied upon to guide your group.
Federal agencies’ resources are not unlimited. The illegal-immigration crisis at the border, along with other new entrants in need of processing and assistance, such as Afghans and Ukrainians but now also Cubans, Haitians, Nicaraguans, and Venezuelans, are overwhelming the system and diverting federal resources away from refugees in need of resettlement. Thus, this “private sponsorship” program comes in handy. Numerous nonprofit organizations will be able to participate in the Welcome Corps.
PSOs will need to assist refugees with the following: initial financial support (for 90 days), reception on arrival in the United States, placement, support with housing, community orientation, help accessing health services, enrollment in various benefit and welfare programs, employment, etc.
Core private sponsorship services include:
- Airport Reception: The Private Sponsor Group (PSG) will greet the refugee newcomer(s) at the airport and transport them to initial housing.
- Financial Support: The PSG will provide each refugee newcomer with basic financial supports during the initial sponsorship period of 90 days.
- Housing: The PSG will ensure that the refugee newcomer(s) have safe, sanitary, and affordable housing for the duration of the initial sponsorship period [90 days].
- Basic Necessities: The PSG will ensure the refugee newcomer(s) have basic start-up necessities, including but not limited to utilities, furniture and household goods ... pocket money for the first 30 days, and food or food allowance until Supplemental Nutritional Assistance is available or the refugee newcomer(s) is able to provide for themselves.
- Documentation: The PSG will support each refugee newcomer in securing essential documentation. Essential documentation includes a Social Security card, employment authorization document, and state ID for each refugee newcomer, regardless of age. For eligible refugee newcomers who wish to obtain a driver’s license, the PSG will support them in securing a driver’s license as their state ID. The PSG will also support males ages 18 – 25 to register for Selective Service.
- Benefits and Services: The PSG will support the refugee newcomer(s) in accessing public benefits for which they might be eligible (e.g., time-limited cash assistance, Supplemental Nutritional Assistance, medical assistance, Supplemental Security Income).
- Health and Mental Health Services: The PSG will connect the refugee newcomer(s) to necessary health and desired mental health services, including those necessary to complete refugee health screening requirements.
- Education and Childcare: The PSG will support the refugee newcomer(s) in enrolling any school-aged children in school. The PSG will also support the refugee newcomer(s) in identifying available child development programs and/or childcare.
- Language: As appropriate, the PSG will support refugee newcomers in language acquisition.
- Interpretation and Translation: The PSG will ensure appropriate interpretation/ translation when communicating with the refugee newcomer(s) regarding critical issues such as those surrounding health and core services.
- Cultural Connections: In consultation with refugee newcomers, the PSG will facilitate cultural connections for refugee newcomers. Such cultural connections may include access to culturally appropriate foods, houses of worship, other culturally or ethnically appropriate community-led organizations and/or compatriots.
- Orientation: The PSG will provide a basic introduction to the refugee newcomer(s)’ new home, community, and life in the United States. This will include a review of topics such as home and personal safety orientation, rights and responsibilities, laws, navigating public transportation, banking, cultural adjustment, and community supports.
- Employment: The PSG will support employable refugee newcomer(s) in securing employment in the US workforce.
- Transition from Sponsorship: The PSG and the refugee newcomer(s) will discuss the conclusion of sponsorship supports and plans for the attainment of economic self-sufficiency and long-term integration, including through the access of ongoing community services.
- Reporting and Feedback: As part of ensuring accurate information and data is available for program improvement and oversight, the PSG will (a) complete 30- and 90-day reports via an established online submission process; (b) complete 6-month and 12-month sponsorship experience surveys; (c) support the process for refugee newcomer(s) to complete surveys within 30 days of arrival and at 6 months and 12 months post arrival; and d) communicate critical incidents or issues impacting the delivery of core services and/or refugee newcomer(s) safety and wellbeing according to program procedures.
Vulnerability to Fraud
This newly introduced private sponsorship could render the resettlement program more vulnerable to fraud and corruption. By UNHCR's own admission, "Refugee status and resettlement places are valuable commodities, particularly in countries with acute poverty, where the temptation to make money by whatever means is strong. This makes the resettlement process a target for abuse." Will that temptation shift to private sponsors on U.S. soil who could be motivated by numerous gains (not just financial but emotional and familial ones as well)?
Under the Welcome Corps, we are told that “Only those refugee applicants who are cleared through an extensive security vetting process, including vetting by U.S. government law enforcement and intelligence agencies, are approved for resettlement to the United States.” How “extensive” can the vetting process be under the new program’s expedited conditions?
The application review process will take a few weeks. The sponsored refugees will arrive 1-2 months after your Private Sponsor Group (PSG)’s application is approved by Welcome Corps team members. Your PSG will receive updates throughout the process, including flight details, so that you can greet the refugee newcomer(s) at the airport and take them to their first home in the United States.
That quick processing might work during the first phase of the program, when “private sponsors participating in the Welcome Corps will be matched with refugees whose cases are already approved for resettlement under the USRAP. The Department of State will begin facilitating matches between private sponsors and refugees arriving within the first six months of 2023.” During that first phase, most refugees will be coming from “Sub-Saharan Africa, where they have been waiting for years for a durable solution”.
However, beginning in mid-2023, during the second phase of the program, “private sponsors will be able to identify refugees to refer to the USRAP for resettlement and support the refugees they have identified.” This is where fraud can become a real issue. “Further details on the second phase of the program will be forthcoming” we are told by the State Department. We will be following these developments closely to see if the Biden administration is introducing specific safeguards to address those potential risks.
Background Check Protocols for Sponsors
[A]ll individuals applying to participate in a Private Sponsor Group (PSG) must undergo a background check and sign the Code of Conduct prior to approval and participation in the PSG. PSG members are required to report any new charges or convictions during participation in the Welcome Corps.
Sterling Volunteers was chosen as the background screening partner. Sterling Volunteers is a “group of passionate volunteers with decades of experience working for and with nonprofits and service organizations in risk mitigation”, who know, through their own volunteer experiences, “about the frustrating barriers to joining causes quickly”. That is why they asked “a global background screening company with 40+ years of expertise”, Sterling, to partner with them in developing an innovative screening platform.
Sterling Volunteers is the only background check platform “tailored to the specific needs of the service sector and the first online community mobilizing repeat, vetted volunteers”.
The Sterling Volunteers mission is:
at its core, to help nonprofits and service organizations better fulfill their missions by reducing the time and costs associated with volunteer screening. By streamlining volunteer screening, organizations can onboard volunteers faster than ever before. No more hours and days wasted filling out forms and awaiting results. Now volunteers can get verified quickly and then securely store and seamlessly reuse their volunteer background checks online with a few easy clicks.
Sterling Volunteers offers “volunteer screening services to nonprofits and volunteer programs all across the country”. They are:
the only screening provider that allows volunteers to own and share their background check with multiple nonprofits in a safe, tamper-free environment. This results in significant savings for organizations, their volunteers, and the communities they serve.
Sterling Volunteers provides a secure online volunteer screening platform that allows you, the volunteer, to enter and control your information when ordering a background check.
In order to place your background check order, fill out the form on the right to register with Sterling Volunteers. Then you’ll be able to order your check in just 4 easy steps (less than 5 minutes!). We’ll get the results of your check back in a few days. Once we review it, the real fun can begin — volunteering! We look forward to having you on our team!
Three things are required for an accurate, thorough background check:
1) first name and last name, correctly spelled and exactly as it appears on your birth certificate or other legal documentation (i.e. no nicknames or shortened names); 2) date of birth; and 3) Social Security Number (SSN).
A typical background consists of a search of courthouse criminal records in the counties where a volunteer has resided in the past seven to 10 years.
Sterling Volunteers can claim “the fastest TAT [turnaround time] in the industry for county courthouse records — the most common background check for volunteers. The majority of searches will be returned in 24 to 72 hours.”
Is Private Sponsorship a Game-Changer?
At first reading, refugee admission numbers under this new program are not significant. In the first year of Welcome Corps, the Department of State said it will seek to:
mobilize 10,000 Americans to step forward as private sponsors and offer a welcoming hand to at least 5,000 refugees. If more than 10,000 individual Americans join the Welcome Corps in 2023, we will seek to pair additional private sponsors with refugees in need of a warm welcome.
These additions will not succeed in reversing the now recurrent low refugee resettlement admissions under the Biden administration. In FY 2022, only 25,465 refugees (20 percent of the 125,000 ceiling) were resettled in the United States. So far in FY 2023 (October 1, 2022, through January 31, 2023), only 9,240 refugees were resettled under a similar ceiling.
Moreover, refugee admissions through the private sponsorship program fall under the regular USRAP, meaning they count toward the refugee ceiling set every year by the president in consultation with Congress. From a numerical viewpoint, this does not look like a game-changer.
But if we take into consideration the recommendations made by the Community Sponsorship Hub and other refugee advocate organizations prior to the launch of the Welcome Corps program, we realize that this could be just the beginning. One of their key recommendations has to do with “additionality”:
Private sponsorship should be used to increase the number of refugees resettled in the United States annually, with an additional number of refugees resettled via private sponsorship above and beyond the number to be resettled each year through the traditional U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) and co-sponsorship.
Any PRM publications or materials regarding the private sponsorship program should reference PRM’s intended goal of additionality by noting that the private sponsorship program will ultimately be used to increase the number of refugees resettled in the United States annually. [Emphasis in original.]
So, this program could end up being the driving force toward admitting more and more refugees every year. But, and more importantly, there’s a non-numerical impact at play here: It is handing the control of refugee selection and admission of future American citizens to, not just a number of private individuals (including freshly arrived refugees), but to a powerful machine of non-profit organizations and philanthropists advocating to increase the number of refugees resettled here. A machine fueled, in large part, with taxpayers’ money; one that is undoubtedly driven by a humanitarian appeal, but one that is also likely to carry its share of political weight.
The Welcome Corps is not merely about “everyday Americans” coming together to raise some $2,000 and assist refugees here, though I’m sure many will do just that driven by generous hearts. It is about the force behind it, the one pulling the marionette’s strings.
The Welcome Corps: Glossary
CSH: Community Sponsorship Hub. An organization dedicated to growing community sponsorship. CSH will act as the Welcome Corps coordinating partner and will lead the Welcome Corps consortium of organizations advancing private sponsorship in the United States. CSH is also responsible for ensuring sponsor background checks and other prerequisites are met.
DHS: Department of Homeland Security
GCR: Global Compact on Refugees (GCR)
GCM: Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration
IOM: International Organization for Migration
ORR: Office of Refugee Resettlement. ORR provides resources for refugees, asylum seekers, and other new arrivals to the U.S. to assist with their integration into their new community.
PSG: Private sponsor group. Groups of at least five sponsors (sponsors need to be American citizens or green card holders) from one community can apply to form private sponsor groups to select and welcome refugees into their communities. PSGs commit to providing refugee newcomers with basic financial support during the initial 90-day sponsorship period but also to connecting them to other support and benefits. PSGs will be supported and overseen by community organizations acting as private sponsor organizations (PSOs).
PRM: Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration. PRM is the humanitarian bureau of the State Department. PRM works to provide protection and resolve the plight of persecuted and uprooted people around the world.
PSO: Private sponsor organization. Community organizations and institutions participate in the Welcome Corps as private sponsor organizations to mobilize, support, and oversee private sponsors. PSOs will be getting funds from the Welcome Corps consortium, which is funded by the Department of State to implement the Welcome Corps.
Resettlement Agencies: Nine religious or community-based organizations that have contracts with the Department of State to assist refugees upon arrival and are in charge of their reception and placement (R&P) in American communities.
R&P: Reception and Placement
RSC: Resettlement support center. NGOs or international organizations (such as IOM) funded by the State Department to act as overseas processing entities that pre-screen refugees abroad and help them build their cases to submit to U.S. officials for resettlement.
RSD: Refugee status determination
UN Declaration: New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants. In 2016, the United Nations General Assembly unanimously adopted the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants, which contains a wide range of commitments by member states to enhance mechanisms to protect refugees and migrants. The declaration has paved the way for the adoption of two new global compacts: GCR and GCM.
UNHCR: United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
USCIS: United States Citizenship and Immigration Services
USRAP: U.S. Refugee Admissions Program
The Welcome Corps consortium. The consortium includes six leading nonprofit organizations with expertise in resettling and integrating refugees into U.S. communities. The consortium is funded by the Department of State to implement the Welcome Corps. The consortium will make funds available to PSOs who in turn assist and fund PSGs.
WRAPS: Worldwide Refugee Admissions Processing System. A collaborative computer system built to process and track the movement of refugees from various countries to the U.S. for resettlement.
- Afghan-American Foundation (AAF)
- Afghan-American Women Association (A-AWA)
- Afghan American Muslim Outreach (AAMO)
- Afghan Community Culture Center, Inc. (ACCC)
- Afghanistan Youth Relief Foundation (AYRF)
- Alianza Americas
- Amaanah Refugee Services
- American Immigration Council (AIC)
- American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA)
- American Muslim Women Association of Arizona (AMWA)
- American Red Cross
- American Service
- Amnesty International USA
- An Nisa Hope Center
- Armenian National Committee of America-Western Region (ANCA-Western Region)
- Bach Viet Association of Sacramento
- Bethany Christian Services
- Blue Star Families
- Boat People SOS
- Building Peaceful Bridges (BPB)
- California Immigrants Resources Center
- Catholic Charities Boston
- Catholic Charities USA
- Center for Empowering Refugees and Immigrants
- Center for Migration Studies of New York
- Chicago Refugee Coalition
- Church World Service (resettlement agency)
- Claremont Canopy
- Combined Arms
- Community Agenda for Regained Empowerment
- Community Sponsorship Hub
- Connecticut for Ukraine Refugee Matching Program
- Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR)
- Culture of Health-Advancing Together (CHAT)
- Della Lamb Community Services
- Diocese of Olympia Refugee Resettlement Office
- Eagle Online Academy
- ECHO Collective
- Elena’s Light
- Ethiopian Community Development Council (ECDC) (resettlement agency)
- Evacuate Our Allies
- Every Campus A Refuge (ECAR)
- Exodus World Service
- Five Together Foundation
- Florida Immigrant Coalition, Inc. (FLIC)
- Fresh Start Refugee Assistance Center
- Friendly House, Inc.
- Fugees Family
- Give an Hour
- Global Emergency Response and Assistance (GERA)
- Glocally Connected — Human Migration Institute
- Goodwill Industries International
- Guilford College
- Haitian Bridge Alliance
- Hanan Refugees Relief Group
- Hazara American Association, Inc.
- Heartfelt Tidbits
- Hearts & Homes for Refugees
- Hello Neighbor
- HIAS (resettlement agency)
- Home For Refugees USA
- Homes Not Borders
- Houston Immigration Legal Services Collaborative
- Human Rights First
- ICNA Relief USA
- Immigrant ARC
- Immigrant & Refugee Outreach Center
- Immigrant Welcome Center
- Indy Reads
- Institute of International Education (IIE)
- International Catholic Migration Commission
- International Neighbors
- International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP)
- International Rescue Committee (IRC) (resettlement agency)
- Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA)
- IRIS – Integrated Refugee & Immigrant Services
- Islamic Center of Boise
- Islamic Relief USA
- Jesuit Refugee Service/USA
- Jewish Family Service of Metrowest
- Jewish Federations of North America
- JCRC of Greater Washington
- Jubilee Campaign USA
- Keeping Our Promise Inc.
- Kids in Need of Defense (KIND)
- Kyiv-Mohyla Foundation of America
- Lions International
- Lutheran Family Services of Nebraska
- Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (resettlement agency)
- Manor College
- Mayors Migration Council
- Migration and Refugee Services/USCCB
- Milwaukee Muslim Women’s Coalition
- MIRA: Middle Eastern Immigrant and Refugee Alliance
- Muslim Family Services of Colorado
- Muslim Youth for Positive Impact
- MY Project USA
- National Association of System Heads (NASH)
- National Coalition Supporting Eurasian Jewry (NCSEJ)
- National Immigration Forum
- National Partnership for New Americans (NPNA)
- National Restaurant Association
- Neighbors For Refugees
- New American Association of Massachusetts
- New American Leaders
- New England Arab American Organization
- Niskanen Center
- No One Left Behind
- Noor Islamic and Cultural Community Center
- North Carolina African Services Coalition (NCASC)
- NOVA Friends of Refugees
- Nova Ukraine
- Olive Branch Muslim Family Services
- One Journey
- ORAM – Organization for Refuge, Asylum and Migration
- Orange County Jewish Coalition for Refugees
- Oxfam America
- Pars Equality Center
- Partnership for the Advancement of New Americans (PANA)
- Peace Corps Community for Refugees
- Pernet Family Health Service
- Pima Community College
- Plast, Ukrainian Scouting Organization – USA
- Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration
- Project Worthmore
- Rainbow Railroad
- Razom for Ukraine
- REACT DC
- Refugee Advocacy Lab
- Refugee Assistance Alliance
- Refugee Assistance Partners NJ
- Refugee Congress
- Refugee Council USA (RCUSA)
- Refugee Education & Adventure Challenge (REACH)
- Refugee Welcome Collective
- Refugee Women Rising
- Refugees International
- Restore Her Voice
- Returned Peace Corps Volunteers Alliance for Ukraine
- Riverview International Center
- Rocky Mountain Welcome Center
- Rotary International
- Ruth's Refuge
- Sanctuary Kitchen by CitySeed
- Save Our Allies
- Seven Hills Foundation
- Slavic Refugee and Immigrant Service Organisation
- Soft Landing Missoula
- Soldiers’ Angels
- Southeast Asia Resource Action Center (SEARAC)
- Special Olympics
- Spring Institute for Intercultural Learning
- Starting Point for Refugee Children
- Syrian Community Network (SCN)
- Talent Beyond Boundaries
- Tapestry Farms
- Tennessee Resettlement Aid
- Texas International Education Consortium
- The Independence Fund
- The Islamic Association of Raleigh
- The Refugee Response
- The Selfreliance Association
- The Shapiro Foundation
- The University of Tulsa
- Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS)
- Treetops Collective
- Tulsa Metropolitan Ministry
- Ukraine Immigration Task Force
- Ukrainian American Bar Association
- Ukrainian American Cultural Center of NJ
- Ukrainian American House
- Ukrainian American Youth Association
- Ukrainian Community Center of Washington
- Ukrainian Educational and Cultural Center (UECC)
- Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA
- Union for Reform Judaism
- United Afghan Association
- United Ukrainian American Relief Committee
- United Way of Central Massachusetts
- United Stateless
- University of Maryland, College Park
- Upwardly Global
- Utah Muslim Civic League
- U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (resettlement agency)
- Valley Neighbors of the Flathead
- Veterans for American Ideals (VFAI)
- Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW)
- Vietnamese American NonGovernmental Organization (VANGO) Network
- Viets for Afghans
- VOICE (Vietnamese Overseas Initiative for Conscience Empowerment)
- Water for Ishmael
- We Are All America
- Welcome Neighbor STL
- Welcoming America
- We Welcome
- With Honor Action
- Women for Afghan Women (WAW)
- World Education Services
- World Learning
- World Relief (resettlement agency)
- World University Service of Canada (WUSC)
- YMCA of the USA