Skip to main content

Disaster Relief for Immigrants

Disaster Relief

This article tells you about disaster relief programs availabe to immigrants and specific conditions that may need to be met. This article was written by Texas RioGrande Legal Aid. 

Get Help!

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 US 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 US. The child’s name, age, and social
security number are required for the application.
Only one applicant per household 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
Declaration and Release: The applicant must sign a sworn statement called a Declaration and
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 US on a temporary tourist visa,
student visa, work visa, or have a temporary resident card.
• Lawful presence in the US 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 US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) guidance, acceptance of emergency disaster relief is not considered public cash assistance that would cause you or 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 your 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


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 permit. More on DUA

Related Articles