Applying for FEMA benefits if you’re an undocumented immigrant

Due to the #campfire disaster in #Paradise, I’ve been receiving a lot of phone calls from #undocumented #immigrants who want to know if receiving #FEMA benefits will affect their eligibility for a #greencard, or will trigger #deportation. What makes the issue complicated is that Trump has recently talked about changing the rules regarding eligibility for green card if you previously received public assistance from the federal government.

However, USCIS updated their website after Trump made the announcement about the proposed new rules, and it clearly states the new rule, and says that receiving federal disaster benefits and assistance – like FEMA – WILL NOT affect eligibility for a green card. 

So if you’re undocumented, and you were affected by the fires, and you want to apply for FEMA benefits, go ahead, it won’t hurt you or your eligibility for a green card later.

Old rule:

“Benefits Not Subject to Public Charge Consideration”
“Under the agency guidance, non-cash benefits and special-purpose cash benefits”
“are NOT subject to public charge consideration.  Such benefits include:”

“Medicaid and other health insurance and health services (including public assistance for”

“emergency medical services”,

“Nutrition programs, including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)”,

“and other supplementary and emergency food assistance programs”,

Emergency disaster relief“. (FEMA)

New Rule:

“Many benefits are not considered as part of the proposed rule.  In fact, the rule does not include consideration of emergency medical assistance, disaster relief, national school lunch programs, foster care and adoption, and head start.”




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