U.S. Citizenship Not Required for Disaster Assistance

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Release date: 
September 17, 2011
Release Number: 
4020-036

ALBANY, N.Y. – People who are not U.S. citizens may be eligible for disaster assistance for damage from Hurricane Irene.

Disaster assistance is available to residents and businesses in Albany, Bronx, Clinton, Columbia, Delaware, Dutchess, Essex, Greene, Herkimer, Kings, Montgomery, Nassau, Orange, Otsego, Putnam, Queens, Rensselaer, Richmond, Rockland, Saratoga, Schenectady, Schoharie, Suffolk, Sullivan, Ulster, Warren, Washington and Westchester counties, which were declared a disaster area by President Obama.

The aid is available to citizens, non-citizen nationals, and qualified aliens. Qualified aliens include those with legal permanent residence (shown by green cards). Their status will not be jeopardized by requesting disaster assistance.

A minor child who is a citizen, non-citizen national or qualified alien can have a parent or guardian who is not eligible apply for assistance on the child’s behalf. No information will be gathered on the adult’s status.

The status of qualified alien includes:

  • legal permanent residents (those with green cards),
  • those with refugee or asylum status,
  • those whose deportation has been withheld,
  • those on parole into the U.S. for at least one year for humanitarian purposes,
  • those with conditional entry,
  • those who are Cuban-Haitian entrants,
  • and those with petitions for relief based on battery or extreme cruelty by a family member.

The application for assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) requires applicants to certify that they are either citizens, non-citizen nationals or qualified aliens. FEMA conducts random audits of applications to verify U.S. citizenship and qualified alien documentation issued by the Immigration and Naturalization Service. However, assistance can be given as long as someone in the household is entitled to it, and no information will be gathered regarding the status of others in the household.

Undocumented immigrants from a household with no one eligible for cash assistance from FEMA may still be eligible for programs run by state, local or voluntary agencies.

Assistance for eligible individuals and small businesses includes funds for temporary housing and necessary home repairs, individual and household grants, disaster unemployment assistance, low-interest loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration and other programs.

Applicants with damage from the disaster can register by calling the FEMA Helpline line at 800-621-3362. The toll-free line is open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. ET, seven days a week until further notice. For people with hearing impairments, use the TTY number at 800-462-7585. Applicants can also register online at www.DisasterAssistance.gov or with any web-enabled mobile device or smartphone at m.fema.gov. Follow the link to "apply online for federal assistance."

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
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