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Qualifying for FEMA Disaster Assistance: Citizenship and Immigration Status Requirements

FEMA and the state, territory or tribal government may provide direct and financial disaster assistance to U.S. citizens, non-citizen nationals and qualified non-citizens.

Disaster assistance may include money for temporary rental assistance, home repairs, personal property loss, medical losses, funeral expenses, and other serious disaster-related needs or expenses not covered by insurance or other means.

When available, life-sustaining resources such as shelter, food and water, crisis counseling, disaster case management, disaster supplemental nutrition assistance program and disaster legal services are available to disaster survivors regardless of citizenship and immigration status.

Definitions

U.S. Citizen

Anyone born in the U.S.; a person born outside of the U.S. to at least one U.S. parent; or a naturalized citizen.

Non-Citizen National

A person born in an outlying possession of the U.S. (i.e., American Samoa or Swain’s Island) on or after the date the U.S. acquired the possession, or a person whose parents are U.S. non-citizen nationals. All U.S. citizens are U.S. nationals, but not every U.S. national is a U.S. citizen.

A Qualified Non-citizen Includes

  • Legal Permanent Residents (“Green Card” holders)
  • Non-citizens granted asylum
  • Refugees
  • Non-citizens whose deportation status is being withheld for at least one year
  • Non-citizens paroled into the U.S. for at least one year for urgent humanitarian purposes or significant public benefit
  • Cuban/Haitian entrants
  • Certain battered non-citizens or their spouses or children
  • Certain victims of a severe form of human trafficking, including persons with a “T” or “U” visa
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Mixed group of people standing.

If an applicant does not meet the citizenship or immigration status at the time of applications, the household may still apply for certain forms of federal assistance if:

The parent or legal guardian of a minor child who is a U.S. citizen, non-citizen national or qualified non-citizen applies for assistance on behalf of the minor child, so long as they live in the same household. The parent or legal guardian must apply as the co-applicant, and the minor child must be under 18 at the time disaster occurred.

All individuals, regardless of citizenship and immigration status, affected by a major disaster may be eligible for crisis counseling assistance, disaster legal services, disaster case management, disaster supplemental nutrition assistance program and other non-monetary, in-kind emergency disaster-relief programs. These include medical care, shelter, food and water.

Resources for Help

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Individuals should consult an immigration expert to verify if they meet the immigration status requirements for FEMA disaster assistance.

Additionally, voluntary agencies provide help regardless of citizenship or immigration status.

All individuals, regardless of citizenship and immigration status, affected by a major disaster may be eligible for crisis counseling assistance, disaster legal services, disaster case management, disaster supplemental nutrition assistance program and other non-monetary, in-kind emergency disaster-relief programs. These include medical care, shelter, food and water.

Visit the Voluntary Organizations page for more information.