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Citizenship and Immigration Status Requirements for Federal Public Benefits

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 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 hydration, crisis counseling, disaster case management and disaster legal services are available to disaster survivors regardless of citizenship and immigration status.

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



Person born in one of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam or the Northern Mariana Islands; 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 Generally Includes:

  • Individuals who are lawful permanent residents (“Green Card” holders)
  • Asylees, refugees, or non-citizens whose deportation status is being withheld
  • Non-citizens paroled into the U.S. for at least one year
  • Non-citizens granted conditional entry (per law in effect prior to April 1, 1980)
  • Cuban/Haitian entrant
  • Certain non-citizens subjected to extreme cruelty or have been a victim of a severe form of human trafficking, including persons with a “T” or “U” visa
a little boy, a mom and a dad

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

  • Another household member, including a minor child, meets the eligibility criteria during the registration process
  • The parent or guardian of a minor child living in the same household may apply for assistance on behalf of the minor child who is a U.S. citizen, non-citizen national, or qualified non-citizen. The minor child must be under age 18 as of the first day of the incident period or disaster declaration day, whichever comes first