Become Certified Welcoming

The certification process formally evaluates and assesses your community’s efforts to provide an inclusive place for all. Candidates submit an application; complete a self-assessment; and receive an evaluative audit and a detailed final report that identifies local strengths and provides a roadmap for areas of growth.

If you’re interested in becoming Certified Welcoming, but aren’t sure which star designation is right for your local government, take a pre-assessment to receive a recommendation on which star designation is the best fit for your community and the steps to take on getting started.

Take the First Step

Welcoming America recently changed the Certified Welcoming process to accept applications through two distinct cohorts. The Foundation Cohort is designed for local governments seeking the 1- or 2-star Certified Welcoming designation and the Leadership Cohort is designed for those seeking the 3-, 4-, or 5-star designation.

These cohorts provide local governments and their partners with technical assistance in achieving their certification goals. Over the course of a year, cohort participants complete their self-assessment, prepare for an audit, receive their report, and celebrate their success while having monthly calls with peers and Welcoming America staff for additional support and learning opportunities throughout the certification process.

Applications for the cohorts are currently closed. The Foundation Cohort application is expected to open in summer 2024 and will begin meeting in September. The Leadership Cohort application is expected to open again in December 2024 and begin meeting in February 2025.

If your community is interested in joining the cohort program and becoming Certified Welcoming, please complete the interest form below and a staff member will reach out when the application opens.

For more information about the Certified Welcoming Leadership Cohort, watch our recent webinar recording.

The Welcoming Standard

Through the Welcoming Standard, we have captured the core of what it means to be welcoming. Developed in collaboration with diverse experts including Welcoming Network members, and with input from the public at large, the Standard provides a comprehensive roadmap for immigrant inclusion.

The Welcoming Standard addresses a range of essential components, from language access to hiring practices and more. Beyond traditional immigrant integration strategies, the Welcoming Standard also includes practices for fostering greater unity between immigrants and U.S. born residents.

The Welcoming Standard is organized according to our seven framework categories:

Government and Community Leadership

Civic Leadership

Equitable Access

Connected Communities


Economic Development

Safe Communitites

Process & Timeline

Local governments are required to be the lead applicant for Certified Welcoming. Partners, such as nonprofits, can contribute to the process at any stage, including completing the application, contributing to the self-assessment, and being consultants during the site visit.

From start to finish, the certification process typically takes about one year.

Certificates are valid for four years. To maintain certification, local governments must continue to meet the indicators in the Welcoming Standard, address any observations in their Certification Report, and update their self-assessment before their certificate expires.

  • Complete onboarding, sign contract
  • Complete self-assessment
  • Complete 2-3 day audit
  • Receive final report
  • Address any non-compliances
  • Receive certificate

Certification Costs

Welcoming Network members can receive a free one-star assessment.

2-5 star assessments are available at a discounted rate of $9,000 for members.


To support certification in communities where the fee may be a barrier to accessing the full benefits of becoming Certified Welcoming, Welcoming America created a scholarship program for local governments. For additional information about applying for a scholarship, please contact

Strong communities intentionally connect and include people of all backgrounds. As places look to harness the wealth and vibrancy that comes from diverse talents and a global workforce, truly welcoming places can set themselves apart.