Help for Immigrant Families During COVID-19

We are currently living during uncertain times due to the Coronavirus pandemic. Millions of people have been affected by falling ill, losing their jobs, and overall the uncertainty of not knowing when everything will get better. Amongst the ones affected are immigrant families who have been struggling to receive medical assistance due to the financial burden it will cause and also not having access to financial resources due to their immigration status. Many have lost their jobs leaving them without any financial resources to stay afloat. They find themselves in desperate times not having the funds to buy food, pay their bills or their rent, just like many of us. 

Stimulus Check

In April, millions of Americans received a stimulus check of $1,200 per adult and $500 per child. However, this stimulus bill did not include immigrant families or spouses of Unites States Citizens even though they pay billions in taxes each year. According to Americas Voice Education Fund, immigrants paid $405.4 billion in taxes in 2017, including an estimated $27.2 billion in taxes paid by undocumented immigrants. Immigrant families have found themselves at a loss and alone with the lack of resources they have to aid them during this pandemic.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Disaster Relief Assistance for Immigrants (DRAI)

In response to the COVID-19 outbreak and the lack of resources the immigrant community has access to, California Governor Gavin Newsom, made a decision to help the immigrant community by providing financial assistance through the Disaster Relief Assistance for Immigrants (DRAI).  California is providing state funded assistance one time to undocumented adults who are ineligible for other forms of assistance, including assistance under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act and pandemic unemployment benefits, because of their immigration status. 

The California Department of Social Services has selected twelve immigrant-serving nonprofit organizations to help individuals apply for and receive this disaster relief assistance in their region. An undocumented adult who qualifies can receive $500 in direct assistance, with a maximum of $1000 in assistance per household.

This assistance means a lot for immigrant families. It is rewarding to witness our governor and many non-profit organizations coming together to aid the immigrant community during this pandemic crisis.

Frequently Asked Questions Answered by California’s Department of Social Services

Who do I contact to apply for the disaster relief assistance for immigrants?

If you live in the County of Los Angeles/Orange please contact:

  1. CHIRLA (213) 201-8700 or (213) 395-9547
  2. CARECEN (213) 315-2659 (LA County ONLY)

If you live in the County of San Bernardino/Riverside please contact:

  1. San Bernardino Community Service Center (909) 521-7535 or
  2. TODEC Legal Center (888) 863-3291

If you live in San Diego County please contact:

  1. Jewish Family Service Center of San Diego (760) 206-3242

If your county is not listed please visit this page to see the full list of organizations based on your county https://www.cdss.ca.gov/inforesou…/immigration/covid-19-drai.

How can I apply for assistance if I am undocumented?

CDSS published the list of the nonprofit organizations that were selected to administer the disaster relief assistance in the various regions of California here: COVID-19 Disaster Relief Assistance for Immigrants. Individuals who are interested in applying for this assistance should contact the nonprofit organization listed for their county from May 18- June 30th

Interested applicants must contact the organization for their county directly to inquire about assistance availability. The nonprofit organization will assist individuals with the application process, confirm their eligibility, and deliver a payment card to approved applicants. Applicants will be considered on a first come, first served basis.

Funding is limited, and disaster relief application services and assistance are not guaranteed.

How do I qualify for the Disaster Relief Assistance for Immigrants (DRAI)?

Eligible individuals must be able to provide information that they:

(1) are an undocumented adult (person over the age of 18)

(2) are not eligible for federal COVID-19 related assistance, like the CARES Act tax stimulus payments or pandemic unemployment benefits; and,

(3) have experienced a hardship as a result of COVID-19.

What documents do I need to apply for DRAI?

You must provide information/documents to verify your:

  1. identity,
  2. home/mailing address,
  3. and show you have been affected by COVID-19. 

Contact the organizations listed for your county or region for more information about the application process and the documents required (CHIRLA).

Will receiving assistance from DRAI affect my possibility in obtaining my residency (green card) in the United States?

This disaster relief assistance is not means-tested and is one-time assistance. The federal government does not list this assistance as a public benefit for a public charge consideration. However, USCIS has not issued specific guidance related to this assistance.

If there are questions about immigration status and this assistance project, please contact Franco Law Group at 213.200.1505 to schedule your consultation with an immigration attorney. Consultation is offered at a discounted price of $25.

If I am approved for DRAI how will I receive the funds?

If a person is found eligible and their application is approved, the nonprofit organization that helped them apply will provide additional information on how they will receive their payment card either through in-person pick-up or through the mail.

When is the last day to apply for DRAI?

Applicants will be considered on a first come, first served basis. The $75 million in direct assistance will be distributed to individuals with approved applications beginning on May 18, 2020, until the funding is spent or until June 30, 2020, at the latest.

What happens to my immigration case during the Coronavirus (COVID-19)?

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)

On April 24, 2020, USCIS announced that they are extending their temporary closure date until June 3, 2020. USCIS is the immigration office that reviews applications of those seeking their U.S legal permanent residence card (also known as a “green card”) or U.S citizenship. Typically, they hold in person interviews and exams with the applicant in order to determine if they will obtain their U.S legal permanent residence card or U.S citizenship.

Due to the outbreak of the Coronavirus, USCIS announced on March 18, 2020 that they cancelled all interviews and visits to the USCIS immigration offices to protect everyone’s health and safety. Previously, they had announced that they would temporarily close until April 1, 2020 but since then they have extended their date to June 3, 2020.

You may ask yourself, “well what does that mean for my immigration case?” “Is it on pause or on hold during the pandemic of the Coronavirus?” To answer this question, no, your case is not put on hold during the pandemic of the Coronavirus. Immigration officers are still working and continue to review your application. Therefore, you may still continue working with your attorney to submit your application and if you don’t have an attorney and would like to begin an immigration case, please don’t hesitate and contact one of our Franco Law Group attorneys at 213.200.1505.

USCIS Resources

Using the following links you are able to:

Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) aka “Immigration Court”

On March 13, 2020 the Executive Office for Immigration Review in Los Angeles (also known as the “Immigration Court”) announced that they would be postponing all Master hearings as a result of the breakout of the Coronavirus. A master hearing is a preliminary hearing where you present your immigration case before an immigration judge.

Later on March 18, 2020 the Executive Office for Immigration Review also postponed all non-detained hearings. Therefore, the only hearings that are still scheduled are for those that are detained and are presenting a case before an immigration judge in order to fight for the right to stay in the United States.

Now, if you have a case that you are fighting before the Immigration Court you may wonder if your case is put on hold due to the Coronavirus pandemic and the answer is no. Your case is still active and still being reviewed. Therefore, you should continue working with your attorney to meet any deadlines you may have to submit documents and continue working to move your case forward. If you don’t have an attorney we have an experienced team of attorneys that can help. You may contact us by commenting below or calling our office at 213.200.1505.

As of now, the Executive Office for Immigration Review is not set to open until June 15, 2020. Therefore, any hearings after June 15, 2020 are still scheduled until further notice.

Any filings due during a court closure should be filed. Filing deadlines after March 30, 2020 remain in effect subject to the discretion of the immigration judge. There is no requirement that documents be filed in person. For all courts, parties are encouraged to file by mail or by ECAS where available (EOIR).

Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP)

If you are an asylum seeker in Mexico and you have a case pending under the MPP program, please know that currently all hearings presently scheduled through April 22 will be rescheduled. Any individual with an MPP hearing date through April 22 should present themselves at their designated port of entry on their previously scheduled date to receive a tear sheet and hearing notice containing their new hearing dates. The Board of Immigration Appeals are still reviewing immigration cases.

Have a Question?

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Email: Reception@FrancoLawGroup.com Romero@FrancoLawGroup.com

Franco Law Group Locations: East Los Angeles Office 5601 E. Beverly Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90022