What You Should Know About Public Programs

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Information for Immigrants: Introduction


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Refugees or Asylees - You may be able to get help from SSI, TANF, Food Stamps and full benefits from MaineCare. This means that if you have applied for asylum and are waiting for a decision, once you get asylum status you may be eligible for these programs.

Iraqi or Afghan Immigrants with special immigration status - You may be able to get SSI, TANF, Food Stamps and full benefits from MaineCare. Please note: there is no longer a 6 or 8 month time limit on how long you can get this assistance.

Immigrants Legally in the United States - You may be able to get help from:

  • General Assistance from your city or town;
  • SSI to help pay for basic needs if you are over the age of 65 or if you have a disability; and
  • Full MaineCare benefits for health care costs if you are pregnant or under age 21.

Family Members - Some people in a family may be able to get help from public programs while others cannot. For example, a mother may not be eligible for MaineCare but her children may be eligible. This means you need to think about whether anyone in your family may be eligible.

Applying for Help - You do not have to show proof of your immigration status if you are applying for help for a family member.

  • If you are only applying for a family member, you should tell the DHHS worker that you are not applying for yourself.
  • If you say this, you do not have to provide documentation for yourself.

The law says that if a child is eligible for help the child should get help even if the parent is not eligible.

Undocumented Immigrants – If you are undocumented you may be able to get help from:

  • Emergency MaineCare;
  • WIC (food for pregnant women and children);
  • School lunch benefits;
  • Immunizations, testing and treatment of symptoms of communicable diseases;
  • Head Start; and
  • Homeless shelters and domestic violence shelters.

For questions contact:

Maine Equal Justice Partners
207-626-7058 or toll-free at 1-866-626-7059

Immigrant Legal Advocacy Project (ILAP)
207-780-1593 or toll-free at 1-800-497-8505

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