Financial Assistance for Refugee 2017-12-15T09:05:37-08:00

Immediate Financial Assistance for Refugees

If you are a UNHCR-referred refugee the Federal Government provides a resettlement grant for an agency to distribute on your behalf. Often this grant is referred to as welcome money among refugee communities. Welcome money gives a window of time to find employment and financial stability. During that time expenses related to your resettlement are paid from the welcome money.

Temporary monthly cash assistance is available through Refugee Cash Assistance (RCA) for single individuals and couples without children. For families with children, CalWorks provides temporary cash assistance. Additional food support comes from CalFresh. All these assistance programs are managed through the California Department of Social Services.

Refugee Cash Assistance

Refugee Cash Assistance (RCA) is cash assistance provided to individuals with refugee, asylee, or trafficking victim status who have been determined to be ineligible for CalWORKs or SSI/SSP and who have resided in the United States for no longer than 8 months from the date of entry. RCA is a temporary cash and rental assistance program for refugees and asylum-seekers without children. The money is distributed by Social Services and appears on the EBT card.

A few key points:

There is no extension of monthly cash assistance program beyond the 8 month program time. The month of entry, as indicated on the USCIS (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, formerly known as INS) form I-94 or other alien documentation, is counted as the first month.

The program is for individuals or couples without children. There is no emergency cash assistance program from the California government for individuals or couples without children.

There is an income limit to receive Refugee Cash Aid. If you have an income above the limit, then Cash Aid will stop completely. If you have an income below the limit, then Cash Aid will continue in full.

Every person receiving Cash Aid must be actively job searching. Refugee cash assistance has an 8 month time limit.


The government of California through the California Department of Social Services or CDSS provides emergency cash assistance for families. This program is called CalWorks.

Assistance through CalWorks is not meant to be a permanent source of income but it is meant to help until a family is economically self-sufficient. Like CalFresh, CalWorks cash is determined based on family size and income. There are income limits to receive CalWorks. Cash is deposited on the EBT card and can be accessed at an ATM. You must inform CDSS of any change in employment, address, or additions to the family within 10 days.

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