The Online Resource for Massachusetts Poverty Law Advocates

Immigrants and Disaster Relief

Date: 
10/31/2017
Author: 
MLRI

1. Do I have to be a U.S. resident or citizen to apply for emergency disaster relief?

  • You can qualify for non-cash FEMA disaster programs even without legal immigration status.
  • Getting other benefits depends on your immigration status.

2. Will I be considered a public charge and denied residency if I apply for emergency disaster relief?

  • No. Based on current law, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will not count emergency disaster relief cash assistance as something that could prevent you from becoming a resident.
  • Based on current law, you will not be classified as a public charge solely because you accept emergency disaster assistance.

3. If I lost my "green card" in the disaster, how can I get a replacement?

  • You need to fill out immigration Form I-90. You can e-file at the website of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.  (USCIS)
  • You can get the immigration Form I-90 from USCIS by calling the National Customer Service Center (NCSC) at 1-800-375-5283 or 1-800-767-1833 (TDD for the hearing impaired) OR you can download the Form I-90 and instructions here.
  • Along with the I-90, you must submit two recent photographs. The photographs must be 2" x 2" color with a white background "passport" style.
  • You must include $455.00, plus an $85.00 fee for biometrics. The TOTAL filing fee is $540.00. These fees may change.  Look at the instructions to confirm the filing fee.
  • Make the check or money order payable to U.S. Department of Homeland Security (not "USDHS" or "DHS").
  • You can request that USCIS expedite your request if you explain in a cover letter the reasons why you need your green card replaced quickly. You can also call the National Customer Service Center to ask them to expedite your request after it has been filed at 1-800-375-5283 or 1-800-767-1833 (TDD for the hearing impaired).

If you can't afford the fee, you can apply for a waiver of the fee. Click herefor a waiver application.  You should explain why you cannot pay the fee, especially if it relates to a recent emergency or disaster situation. 

4.  If I lost my work permit in the disaster, how can I get a replacement?

  • Fill out immigration Form I-765, Application for Employment Verification.
  • You can get Form I-765 from USCIS by calling 1-800-870-3676 OR you can download it and instructions here.
  • If you have a photocopy of your lost work permit, attach it to the I-765. Also include a photocopy of any papers that entitle you to a work permit, such as application of asylum, suspension of deportation or adjustment of status.
  • Include a 410.00 fee, but look at the I-765 instructions to see if you need to pay a $85.00 fee for biometrics - here.
  • Make the check or money order payable to U.S. Department of Homeland Security (not "USDHS" or "DHS").
  • You can also e-file at the website of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
  • You can request that USCIS expedite your request if you explain in a cover letter the reasons why you need your green card replaced quickly. You can also call the National Customer Service Center to ask them to expedite your request after it has been filed at 1-800-375-5283 or 1-800-767-1833 (TDD for the hearing impaired). 

If you can't afford the fee, you can apply for a waiver of the fee. Click here for a waiver application. You should explain why you cannot pay the fee, especially if it relates to a recent emergency or disaster situation. 

5. Can I work while waiting for a replacement?

  • Yes. The Department of Homeland Security has told employers that they can hire people who have lost their work papers and even their proof of identity, but you need to show proof that you have applied for a replacement document.
  • See USCIS information about work verification by clicking here.

6. Where can I get more information?

  


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