Citizenship Restrictions Apply To Some FEMA Aid

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Release date: 
May 25, 2010
Release Number: 

LEXINGTON, Ky. -- The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Individual Assistance program’s grant funds are restricted to people living legally in the U.S.  However, parents may apply for Individual Assistance on behalf of a child who is a U.S. citizen or a qualified immigrant. Another adult household member may qualify for household assistance if that individual is a legal immigrant.

FEMA grant funds for disaster-related losses are available to eligible: 1) U.S. citizens; 2) non-citizen nationals; and 3) qualified immigrants living legally in the U.S.  FEMA inspectors checking damage to homes and property will ask the applicant to sign a Declaration and Release form stating that he or she is a U.S. citizen, non-citizen national or a qualified immigrant. 

The qualified immigrant category includes:

  • Lawful permanent residents (they possess a “green card”)
  • Those with refugee or asylum status
  • Immigration “parolees” (people admitted to the U.S. temporarily for humanitarian purposes even if they don’t yet technically qualify for legal immigrant status)
  • Those with conditional entry
  • Those who have petitioned for relief based on battery or extreme cruelty by a family member
  • Cuban-Haitian entrants.

Eligibility for FEMA programs is determined at the time of registration. Those unsure of their immigration status should consult an immigration expert.

Non-profit and voluntary agencies like the American Red Cross and faith-based charities may also provide help to undocumented disaster survivors. 

Additional information about this disaster is available at and .

FEMA’s mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.

Last Updated: 
July 16, 2012 - 18:46
State/Tribal Government or Region: 
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