Refugee Cash Assistance (RCA)

The Refugee Cash Assistance Program provides federal cash payments to refugee single adults and/or families for twelve months from the refugee’s date of entry into the United States (exceptions apply). RCA follows most of the CalWORKs regulations, including those of properties and income. Unlike CalWORKs, eligibility for RCA does not require a child deprived of parental support or care to be in the home. Refugees eligible to CalWORKs cannot choose to be aided under RCA.

  1. Am I Eligible
  2. Where Can I Apply?

Eligibility for RCA

There are specific immigrant classifications eligible to RCA:

  • Paroled as a refugee or Asylee
  • Admitted as a refugee
  • Individuals granted political asylum (Asylees)
  • Certain Cuban/Haitian Entrants
  • Special Immigrant Visa Holders from Iraqi and Afghanistan
  • Individuals granted status as a Trafficking Victim by the Office of Refugee Resettlement 

Work Registration and Employment and Training Requirements

Refugees applying for RCA must be enrolled in Employment Services within 30 days of RCA approval, unless exempt. Failure to enroll and participate may result in sanctions and discontinuance of the case. In Sacramento County, the Sacramento Employment and Training Agency (SETA) contracts with Services Providers who directly provide these services. Employment Services include:

  • English as a second language (ESL) instruction
  • Cultural orientation
  • Pre-employment skills training
  • Social services assistance to help overcome obstacles to employment

Full time Students 
Full time students in a college program in an institution of higher education are not eligible for RCA.
Special Needs
RCA applicants/recipients are eligible to non-recurring and recurring Special Needs such as:

  • Allowances for therapeutic diets
  • Pregnancy special needs
  • Loss of property that occurred after arrival in California

Social Security Numbers (SSN)
Refugees are not required to disclose their SSNs for the RCA program. However, the SSN or acknowledgement form from the Social Security Administration is required for CalWORKs and other public assistance programs.

Maximum Aid Payment (MAP)
RCA recipients receive cash assistance based on the CalWORKs Maximum Aid Payment (MAP) values. MAP levels are based on family size as established by the California State Legislature. Single RCA adults with no income receive the Maximum Aid Payment for one.