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Disaster Relief for Immigrants

Produced by Legal Services Alabama, updated by Massachusetts Law Reform Institute
Last Updated December 2017

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

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

  • No. US Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS) will not count accepting emergency disaster relief public cash assistance as something that could stop you from becoming a resident.
  • You will not be classified as a public charge just because you accept emergency disaster assistance.

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

  • Fill out immigration Form I-90. You can e-file at the website of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
  • You can get the immigration Form I-90 from INS 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 backgound - "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.
  • Any bank drafts, cashier's checks, certified checks, personal checks, or money orders must be drawn on U.S. financial institutions and payable in U.S. funds. Make the check or money order payable to U.S. Department of Homeland Security (not "USDHS" or "DHS").
  • You can ask USCIS to rush your application. Write a letter that explains the reasons you need them to replace your green card quickly. Include the letter with your application. You can also ask the National  Consumer Service Center  to rush your application after you have filed it. Their numbers are (800) 375-5283, or (800) 767-1833 (TDD for the hearing impaired).
  • If you cannot afford the fee, use form I-912 Request for Fee Waiver to ask USCIS to waive the fee.Explain why you cannot pay the fee, especially if it relates to a recent emergency or disaster.

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

  • You need to 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 the Form I-765 and instructions.
  • 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, buy look at the I-765 instructions to see if you also need to pay the $85 biometrics fee.
  • Any bank drafts, cashier's checks, certified checks, personal checks, or money orders must be drawn on U.S. financial institutions and payable in U.S. funds. 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.

Can I work while I wait 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 applied for replacements.

See USCIS Fact Sheet Form I-9 and E-Verify Guidance for Those affected by Recent Hurricanes for information about work verification

Where can I get more information?

For more resources for immigrants, visit the website of the National Immigration Law Center's Resources for Disaster Survivors.

Visit USCIS website for infomation about help for those affected by natural disasters.

Get Legal Help

Before you talk to USCIS always speak with an Immigration Specialist.

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