Refugee Cash Assistance

Please see the Office of Refugee and Immigrant Assistance website for the latest updates and COVID-19 response information

What it is:

The Refugee Cash Assistance (RCA) program helps eligible refugees and other humanitarian immigrants by providing cash assistance for up to twelve months from their arrival date in the United States (or from the date of their immigration status for asylees or victims of trafficking). RCA is for eligible people who do not have minor children.

To be eligible for RCA you must:

  • Provide immigration documentation verifying your immigration status and date of arrival or eligibility;
  • For refugees and Special Immigrant Visa holders, provide the name of the agency that resettled you;
  • Meet immigration status requirements;
  • Be willing and able to participate in work and training requirements (as allowed due to COVID-19 public health guidance and closures);

Meet income and resource requirements.

If you are otherwise eligible, you cannot be denied RCA because you have not yet received a Social Security Number.

Eligible immigration status requirements:

Immigrants who entered the United States with one of the following statuses or were granted one them after entry may receive RCA benefits as long as they meet other eligibility requirements:

  • Refugee
  • Asylee
  • Amerasian
  • Cuban-Haitian entrant
  • Certified victim of trafficking and their eligible family members
  • Special Immigrant Visa holder from Iraq or Afghanistan and their eligible family members
  • Afghan humanitarian parolees eligible for federal benefits 
  • Ukrainian humanitarian parolees eligible for federal benefits

    If you have questions about whether or not you meet immigration status requirements, a staff member can help you. For more information, please see: Chapter 388-466 WACs.

You are not eligible for RCA if you:

  • Are eligible for Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF);
  • Have been denied TANF or have been terminated from TANF due to intentional non-compliance with TANF eligibility requirements;
  • Are a full-time student in an institution of higher education, unless the educational activity is part of a department-approved employability plan;
  • Are receiving Matching Grant funds.

Income and Resource Requirements:

To be eligible for the RCA program you must have resources of less than $12,000. Certain resources, such as the entire value of one vehicle used by the assistance unit or household as transportation, are exempt.


Unit Size

Payment Standard






How it works:

A married couple of two, without children, who are eligible for RCA would get $570 if they have no income. If one or both are working, we count half of the earnings against the household’s grant. If that couple earns over $1,140 per month, they would no longer receive RCA.

If you are getting unearned income, such as unemployment compensation, or ongoing payments from your resettlement agency, we count the entire amount against the grant. One-time grants given by resettlement agencies when an immigrant first arrives are not counted as “ongoing payments” for the purposes of counting unearned income.

For that same married couple in the example provided above - once they start receiving $570 per month in unearned income, they would no longer receive RCA.  


The Application for Benefits is available in several languages.


How to apply:

You can apply for Refugee Cash Assistance services online at, at your local Community Services Office, or over the phone by calling 877-501-2233. Interpretation and translation services are available.

As with all our programs, the only way to know for sure if you are eligible is to apply.

More information on RCA benefits is also available at the EA-Z manual entry for Refugee Cash Assistance.