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State Letter #05-24

Eligibility Guidance for ORR Populations Displaced by Hurricane Katrina

Published: September 9, 2005
State Letter
assets, disaster, eligibility, means testing, waiver


FROM: Nguyen Van Hanh, Ph.D.
Office of Refugee Resettlement

SUBJECT: Eligibility Guidance for ORR Populations Displaced by Hurricane Katrina

Purpose of this Letter

This State Letter is intended to provide information and guidance regarding eligibility for Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) benefits and services for individuals who were recently evacuated or displaced as a result of the tragic events surrounding Hurricane Katrina. It is anticipated that many of these individuals will be in contact with agencies across the country seeking assistance. This State Letter will supplement the status and documentation requirements for the Refugee Resettlement Program previously provided in State Letter #00-17.


Many individuals that remain eligible to receive ORR benefits and services, (refugees, asylees, Cuban/Haitian entrants, Amerasians and Victims of Trafficking) have recently been evacuated or displaced from communities impacted by Hurricane Katrina. As a result of the national evacuation effort, a large number of these individuals are currently residing in shelters and temporary housing across the country.

Many of these victims no longer have access to important documents and identification that are typically used for the purpose of determining ORR eligibility. The applicant may have been evacuated from the affected area with little or no notice and the documents may have been destroyed or misplaced during the ongoing displacement in shelters and temporary housing.


Agencies are asked to use the following process when determining eligibility for ORR benefits and services for individuals that have been displaced by Hurricane Katrina.

Eligibility workers should ask the applicant for a written declaration, under penalty of perjury containing the following information:

  • Applicant's Name
  • Date of Birth
  • Alien Registration Number "A Number" (if available)
  • Current immigration status that will confer eligibility for ORR benefits and services: (e.g. refugee, asylee, Cuban/Haitian entrant, Amerasian, Victim of Trafficking, or a Lawful Permanent Resident that previously held status as a refugee, asylee, Cuban/Haitian entrant or a Victim of Trafficking
  • Most recent permanent address (where the individual resided prior to being evacuated)
  • An acknowledgement that he or she has been displaced as a result of Hurricane Katrina
  • Date of entry (Date granted asylum, obtained Cuban/Haitian entrant status, date of ORR Trafficking Eligibility or Certification letter)1

If the declaration indicates that the applicant is within an immigration status that would confer eligibility for ORR benefits and services, and the individual has been displaced as a result of Hurricane Katrina, the eligibility worker may conclude that the applicant is eligible for ORR benefits and services.

However, this State Letter does not extend the duration of any ORR time limited benefits and services. At present, populations served by ORR, if otherwise eligible, may receive Refugee Cash Assistance (RCA) and Refugee Medical Assistance (RMA) for eight months. As discussed in State Letter #05-23, the Director of ORR has waived the 60-month limitation on social services. This waiver is in effect from September 1, 2005 through September 30, 2006.2

Pursuant to 45 CFR 400.147, the Director of ORR is requesting that all individuals that have been displaced or evacuated as a result of Hurricane Katrina receive priority social services.

If a service-provider is having difficulty determining the status of an individual who has been displaced by Hurricane Katrina please contact Paul E. Gleason at (202) 401-4604 or pgleason@acf.hhs.gov.

1. Please note that an individual does not need a Social Security Number in order to be eligible for ORR programs and services.
2. ORR State Letter #05-23, National Waiver of the 60-Month Limitation on Social Services.

Last Reviewed: May 13, 2019
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