GA Eligibility for Asylum Seekers and Other Immigrants Starting Oct 15th

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New State Law Provides General Assistance to Asylum Seekers and other Immigrants

PUBLIC LAW 324 will take effect on October 15th, 2015.  At that time, people seeking asylum and other immigrant groups may qualify for General Assistance (GA) benefits for up to 24 months (2 years).  This means that:

  • Current GA recipients (both grandfathered individuals and people with a valid visa) may continue to be eligible for GA for up to 2 years.
  • New applicants covered by Public Law 324 will be eligible for GA for up to 2 years from the time they start receiving GA benefits.

Under Public Law 324, the following groups are eligible for GA:

  1. People who are “lawfully present” in the U.S.; and
  2. People who are “pursuing a lawful process to apply for immigration relief”.

Under the state law, anyone who is either lawfully present or pursuing a lawful process should qualify.  This should include people who are pursuing asylum (even if they have not yet applied, as long as they are pursuing that application process) as well as others who are pursuing a lawful process for immigration relief (like someone applying for protection under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).  Municipalities have not yet clarified in ordinance exactly which groups are covered under these two categories.

If you have any questions about this policy or believe that someone is being denied help who should be eligible, please contact Maine Equal Justice Partners toll free at 1-866-626-7059, ext. 207 and speak with Joby Thoyalil(Language line is available)