Welcome Corps will help refugee students on U.S. college campuses

In the past two years, Americans across the country have offered overwhelming support in welcoming Afghan allies, Ukrainians displaced by war and others fleeing oppression and persecution.

The Department of State’s Welcome Corps, launched in January, builds on this interest by creating a program for Americans to privately sponsor refugees from around the world and resettle them in communities across the United States.

Now, Welcome Corps on Campus will leverage the capacity and expertise of U.S. higher education institutions to help American colleges, universities and their communities sponsor refugee students pursuing degrees. The first group of refugee students who will be served under Welcome Corps on Campus will arrive for the fall 2024 academic year.

Welcome Corps on Campus provides an opportunity for the students to foster talents, learn new skills and complete a degree program in the United States.

Setting up refugee students for success

Here’s how it works: The educational institution will commit to sponsoring a refugee student with enrollment and tuition waivers for at least the first academic year. Campus private-sponsor groups, comprising at least five adults over 18 who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents affiliated with the school, will provide the necessary academic and social support to set up the refugee student for success.

The group commits to supporting the students for at least a year and develops a plan to help the student become self-sufficient after that.

For now, Welcome Corps on Campus is open to refugees living in Kenya and Jordan. The program aims to connect 300 refugee students to U.S. colleges and universities. The refugee students will be processed through the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program, which provides a pathway to permanent legal status in the United States.

As of July 6, 149 institutions and organizations with expertise in higher education, resettlement and refugee rights have publicly expressed support for the Welcome Corps on Campus.

The refugee campus experience in action

Four people standing outside talking and smiling (© Arizona State University)
Naruro Hassan (second-to-left), a Somali refugee at Arizona State University, chats with fellow students outside a school building in Tempe, Arizona. (© Arizona State University)

Arizona State University is already providing scholarships to refugees, including 67 Afghan students who were evacuated in August 2021 after the Taliban captured Kabul, said Pamela DeLargy, executive director of Education for Humanity.

The school cafeterias provide halal food and other kinds of cuisine for refugee students who are Muslim or Orthodox Christian, DeLargy said. The campus remains open during the holidays and summer break so the students always have a place to stay.

“Making a campus more refugee friendly often makes the campus better for everybody,” DeLargy said. “You really become the family for these young people.”