Refugee 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.

Time Eligibility

Eligibility for RCA is limited to 8 months. 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.

Eligibility for RCA asylees begins on the date asylum was granted.

Trafficking victims are eligible to 8 months of RCA benefits from the date indicated on their certification letter.

Refugee Definition

A refugee is a person who is outside of any country in which such person habitually resided, and who is unable or unwilling to return to that country because of persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion.

Asylee Definition

An Asylee is a person who travels to the United States, applies and is granted "asylum" status by USCIS (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, formerly known as INS), which allows him/her to remain in the U.S., because he/she is unable or unwilling to return to his/her country due to persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution. Asylees are eligible to 8 months of RCA benefits from the date they are granted asylum status.

Trafficking Victims Definition

The Trafficking Victims Act of 2000 makes adult victims of severe forms of trafficking, who have been certified by the federal Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), eligible for benefits and services to the same extent as refugees. Severe forms of trafficking occur when persons are forced, defrauded, or coerced into slavery, involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage or performing commercial sex acts.

ORR will make certification determinations and issue letters of certification for victims of severe forms of trafficking. A refugee who applies as a trafficking victim must provide the original certification letter issued by ORR. This individual's "entry date" is the certification date, which appears in the body of the certification letter. Trafficking victims are eligible to 8 months of RCA benefits from the date indicated on their certification letter.

Work Registration Requirements

As a condition of eligibility, each RCA applicant/recipient must register for employment services with an employment services provider unless he/she is determined to be exempt. Failure to cooperate with registration or participation requirements results in termination or denial of aid. The employment service provider will offer registrant the opportunity and services necessary to assist them in becoming self sufficient, such as: Vocational English as a Second Language, Short-Term Vocational Training, Employment Preparation Workshops, Job Counseling and Job Search Assistance, Job Development and Placement, and Job Retention.