What forms of FEMA assistance are available to Non-U.S. Citizens?

Many of our lives have been disrupted by Hurricane Irma and our hearts go out to those in Puerto Rico suffering from Hurricane Maria. Many are busy filing insurance claims and trying to obtain FEMA assistance for uninsured or underinsured losses. Some of you may have questions as to whether non-citizens qualify for disaster relief.

As might be expected, the answers are not always simple and depend on the type of assistance one is seeking. Some services and non-cash assistance are “unrestricted” and available to all disaster victims. This includes emergency assistance – transportation, emergency medical care, crisis counseling, emergency shelter, emergency food, water, medicine and other short-term basic needs.

“Restricted services” are only available to U.S. citizens, nationals and “qualified aliens.” These restricted services included temporary housing, repair and replace destroyed housing, replace possessions and pay medical and funeral costs. Undocumented individuals can apply for a minor child who is a qualified alien.

To fall within the definition of “Qualified Alien” you must be a lawful permanent resident, one who has been granted asylum, a refugee or fall within a few other miscellaneous categories. A noncitizen victim of battery or extreme cruelty is considered a qualified alien if they are either a spouse or child of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident and have been the victim of that citizen or permanent resident.

Noncitizen applicants should understand that in addition to the penalties that apply to citizens who provide false information on FEMA applications that they would also be subjected to deportation or inadmissibility.

We hope that all of you are doing well after Hurricane Irma but want to let our clients know that we are available to assist you if you have any questions regarding your eligibility for FEMA assistance.

Our office is fully operational despite Irma and we are, as always, available to assist you with your Immigration Issues.

Linda M Kaplan