Frequently Asked Questions
Here are a few ways we’ve seen certification provide value:
- A third party identifies gaps in current immigrant inclusion efforts and assists with prioritizing next steps.
- Communities can bring new partners to the table and recommit current partners. Certification also provides the opportunity to thoroughly examine your work to streamline processes and avoid duplication.
- Certification creates continued commitment and accountability to welcoming and immigrant inclusion, particularly during and after changes in locally elected leadership.
- Fortune 500 companies like Amazon and others look for locations that attract and support a diverse and talented workforce. Certified Welcoming places meet that bar, and the designation is a way for local governments to set themselves apart in a competitive economic environment.
- International sporting events, such as the FIFA World Cup, looked for locations that support a diverse fan base and have the infrastructure to support fans from a variety of nationalities and languages spoken. Certified Welcoming places meet this bar and several have used their designation to bid and secure hosting duties for sporting events.
No. Being a Certified Welcoming city means that your community has committed to adhering to inclusive policies and practices, as outlined in the Welcoming Standard. While there is no legal definition for a “sanctuary city,” a common thread among sanctuary policies is limiting cooperation with federal immigration officials. The Welcoming Standard emphasizes building trust and relationships between law enforcement and local community members, as well as providing education to immigrants about their rights and responsibilities under the law. Certified Welcoming communities must fulfill this criteria of the Welcoming Standard in order to receive the designation.
- Enter the Certified Welcoming program through the Foundation or Leadership Cohort.
- Complete onboarding, sign the contract, and pay fees.
- Complete self-assessment and provide evidence to demonstrate compliance with the Welcoming Standard.
- Receive a site visit or virtual meeting to audit and confirm compliance with the Welcoming Standard.
- Receive a detailed final report that identifies local strengths and provides a roadmap for areas of growth.
- Submit additional evidence, if required.
- Celebrate your certification!
The length of the certification process will vary depending on the star designation you seek. The process typically takes anywhere from six months for a 1-star designation to 18 months for a 5-star designation.
The full certification fee is $12,000. It is currently discounted to $9,000 for Welcoming Network members. Additionally, all Welcoming Network members may go through the Certified Welcoming 1-star process at no cost.
Some local governments are successful in engaging their local community foundations, chambers of commerce, businesses, and coalitions to cover some or all of the fee. However, we recognize that the amount may still be a barrier. To see if your community qualifies for a scholarship, please fill out this form.
While Certified Welcoming cannot be achieved without the work of a wide array of community organizations and leaders, the Certified Welcoming designation is for local governments and they must be the lead applicant. Community-based organizations interested in Certified Welcoming will need to engage their local government to apply for the program.
U.S. cities and counties of all sizes and resource levels can achieve Certified Welcoming. The updated Welcoming Standard includes several new criteria that better reflect the wide range of institutions and policies that influence day-to-day life in local communities. It is also intended to be more accessible to communities with fewer resources and smaller populations. Because the Welcoming Standard builds upon itself, communities can now envision paths to deepen their work, gain new champions, and set goals for becoming Certified Welcoming at any level.
To ensure the Welcoming Standard was rigorous and relevant across diverse communities, requirements were piloted for the updated Welcoming Standard in several cities and counties. These processes follow best practices in standard system design set out by the ISEAL Alliance and other certification oversight bodies.
We recognize that not all areas will be under one municipality's purview, which is why partnerships and collaboration are emphasized.
Yes, you may still become certified. If the audit finds that you do not meet 100% of the Welcoming Standard criteria for the star designation you are seeking, you may take six months to submit additional evidence to receive your certificate. Alternatively, if you meet the criteria at a lower star designation than the one you were originally seeking, you may choose to receive that star designation instead.
As of 2024, there are over 20 Certified Welcoming places. See the complete list on our website.
We are currently only accepting Certified Welcoming participants through our Certified Welcoming Leadership and Foundation Cohorts.
If you’re interested in becoming Certified Welcoming, but aren’t sure which star designation is right for your local government, take this pre-assessment! You will receive a recommendation on which star designation is the best fit for your community.
If you are interested but our applications are currently closed you may fill out this interest form.
Contact the Certified Welcoming team at email@example.com to learn more.