WESTFIELD, Mass. -- People who are not U.S. citizens, but who are in the United States legally, may still be eligible for disaster assistance for damage from the severe storms and tornadoes that hit Massachusetts June 1, according to officials from the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
"We don't want any residents who might be eligible to miss out on valuable disaster assistance that could help them get back on their feet," said State Coordinating Officer Kurt Schwartz.
Residents and business owners in Hampden and Worcester counties may apply for disaster assistance until the Aug. 15 deadline. Applicants must be U.S. citizens, non-citizen nationals or qualified aliens to receive FEMA monetary assistance. Their legal status will not be jeopardized by applying for assistance.
Qualified aliens include:
- Individuals with Lawful Permanent Residency (holders of "green cards");
- Persons with refugee or asylum status;
- Persons whose deportation has been withheld;
- Persons on parole in the U.S. for at least one year for humanitarian purposes;
- Persons with conditional entry;
- Cuban or Haitian entrants; and
- Persons with petitions for relief based on domestic violence against spouses or children.
- Persons subjected to severe forms of human trafficking, including those with "T" and "U" visas.
Disaster assistance may be available as long as someone in a household is entitled to it. For example, a parent or guardian who is not eligible for assistance can still apply on behalf of a minor child who is a U.S. citizen, non-citizen national or qualified alien. The guardian only certifies for the child.
Undocumented immigrants from a household with no one eligible for FEMA assistance may still be eligible for assistance from voluntary agencies that deliver humanitarian services without regard to citizenship or immigration status. They may also be eligible for short-term, non-cash aid from FEMA, such as disaster legal services and crisis counseling.
"If people are in doubt, they should still apply," said Federal Coordinating Officer Nick Russo. "FEMA will determine their eligibility."
To register for FEMA assistance, tornado survivors can call 800-621-FEMA (3362) or TTY 1-800-462-7585 for the speech- or hearing-impaired. Multilingual registration assistance is available at both numbers. You may also apply online at www.DisasterAssistance.gov. By smartphone or tablet, use m.fema.gov.
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.