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Disaster Relief for Immigrants

Disaster Relief

This article tells you about disaster relief programs available to immigrants and specific conditions that may need to be met.

Here, learn about disaster relief programs for immigrants in the US and what you need to know about eligibility, including requirements for qualified aliens and ineligible individuals. Find out about options for cash assistance and unemployment compensation and what documents you need to apply.

Are immigrants eligible for FEMA cash assistance?

Yes, if the applicant is a qualified alien, in addition to meeting other FEMA eligibility requirements.

A qualified alien includes anyone who has been granted legal permanent residence (green card), refugee or asylee status, withholding of deportation, conditional entry, parole into the U.S. for at least one year, a Cuban-Haitian entrant, a battered spouse or child(ren) with a pending or approved spousal petition, or a T- visa recipient.

  • Eligible minor child: an undocumented parent or guardian may apply on behalf of an eligible minor child who lives in the household and was born in the U.S. The child’s name, age, and social security number are required for the application.
  • Only one applicant per household is required: If one household member is eligible, all household members qualify for assistance regardless of the other household members’ immigration status. FEMA will not collect or review the immigration status of other members of the applicant’s household.
  • Declaration and Release: The applicant must sign a sworn statement called a Declaration and Release stating that the applicant (or eligible minor child) is a qualified alien. The Release authorizes FEMA to verify the immigration status of the applicant or minor child.

Who is not eligible to receive FEMA cash assistance?

Cash assistance is NOT available for households where no single household member is eligible. The household can still receive non-cash assistance through state and local programs, such as emergency food and shelter, crisis counseling, disaster legal services, and other short-term emergency assistance.

  • You are NOT eligible for FEMA cash assistance if you are in the U.S. on a temporary tourist visa, student visa, work visa, or have a temporary resident card.
  • Lawful presence in the U.S. and a social security number alone will NOT make you eligible for FEMA cash assistance. You must also meet all other FEMA eligibility requirements.

Will FEMA cash assistance affect my residency application?

No. Under U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) guidance, accepting emergency disaster relief is not considered public cash assistance that would cause you or your household members to become ineligible for lawful permanent residence (a green card) or citizenship.

What do I need to apply for FEMA aid?

FEMA will need your:

  • Social Security number, current and pre-disaster address, and telephone number.
  • Insurance and income information for your household.
  • A description of losses caused by the disaster.
  • A bank routing and account number (for direct deposit into your bank account).

I lost my job due to the disaster. Can I collect unemployment?

If you have a work permit, lost your job because of a disaster, and meet other requirements you might qualify for regular unemployment compensation. Apply online at Unemployment Benefits Services.

Unemployment Assistance (DUA)

If you don’t qualify for regular unemployment benefits, consider applying for Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA).

DUA provides financial help to employed or self-employed workers in a federal disaster area whose employment is lost or interrupted due to a major disaster. DUA is available to citizens, permanent residents, and people with a valid work permits. More on DUA
at Disaster Unemployment Assistance.

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