top of page

Refugee Cash Assistance

Refugee Cash Assistance (RCA) is cash assistance provided to individuals with refuge, asylee, or trafficking victim status who have been determine to be ineligible for CalWORKs or SSI/SSP and who have resided in the United States for no longer than 12 months from the Date of Entry.  To be eligible for RCA you must be classified as one of the following:

  • Paroled as a refugee or asylee

  • Admitted as a refugee

  • Individuals granted political asylum

  • Amerasians

  • Certain Cuban/Haitian Entrants

  • Special Immigrant Visa Holders from Iraq, Afghanistan, and Ukraine.

  • Certain victims of human trafficking

Time Eligibility

Eligibility for RCA is limited to 12 months.  The month of entry, as indicated on the USCIS (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, formerly known as INS form I-94), or other alien documentation is counted as the first month. 

Eligibility for RCA asylees begins on the date asylum was granted

Trafficking victims are eligible to 12 months of RCA benefits from the date indicated on their certification letter. 

Refugee Definition

A refugee is a person who is outside of any country in which such person habitually resided, and who is unable or unwilling to return to that country because of persecution or a well-funded fear of persecution because of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion.

Asylee Definition

An Asylee is a person who travels to the United States, applies, and is granted “asylum” status by USCIS (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services), which allows him/her to remain in the U.S> because he/she is unable or unwilling to return to his/her country due to persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution.  Asylees are eligible for 12 months of RCA benefits from the date they are granted asylum status.

Trafficking Victims Definition

The Trafficking Victims Act of 2000 makes adult victims of severe forms of trafficking who have been certified by the federal Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), eligible for benefits and services to the same extent as refugees.  Severe forms of trafficking occur when persons are forced, defrauded, or coerced into slavery, involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or performing commercial sex acts. 

ORR will make certification determinations and issue letters of certification for victims of severe forms of trafficking.  A refugee who applies as a trafficking victim must provide the original certification letter issued by ORR.  Trafficking victims are eligible to 12 months of RCA benefits from the date indicated on their certification letter. 

Work Registration Requirements

As a condition of eligibility, each RCA applicant/recipient must cooperate with employment services unless he/she is determined to be exempt.  Failure to cooperate with registration or participation requirements will result in the termination or denial of aid. 


To Apply

  • To apply online, please apply on

  • To apply in person or by mail please call (760)336-4030 and request application be mailed to you or visit our office locations:


2895 South Fourth Street                              860 Main Street

El Centro, CA 92243                                         Brawley, CA 92227

bottom of page