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Issue Alert - 09-04-03

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Apr 10, 2009

Program Area:

Refugee Assistance Program (RAP)

Issue Summary:

The Department of Human Services has issued several changes to their Refugee Assistance Program policies

Persons Affected:

Refugee Assistance Program (RAP) applicants and recipients

For More Information:

Center for Civil Justice 320 S. Washington, 2nd Floor Saginaw, MI 48607 (989) 755-3120, (800)724-7441 Fax: (989) 755-3558 E-mail:

Michigan Poverty Law Program 611 Church Street, Suite 4A Ann Arbor, MI 48104-3000 (734) 998-6100 (734) 998-9125 Fax


The Refugee Assistance Program (RAP) is a federal program which helps refugees to become self-sufficient after their arrival in the United States.  In addition to refugees, RAP may be available to other non-U.S. citizens with other specific immigration statuses

RAP has two components; Refugee Assistance Program Cash (RAPC) and Refugee Assistance Program Medical (RAPM).  In order to qualify for these programs, the applicant must be income eligible as well as meet other eligibility requirements.

RAPC is a cash program for refugees who are not eligible for the Family Independence Program (FIP).  RAP recipients are subject to the same rules and penalties as FIP recipients except that they are referred to refugee contractors to help with their unique circumstances instead of JET.

RAPM is a medical program for refugees who are not eligible for Medicaid (MA).  

For more information, see DHS Program Eligibility Manual (PEM) 630 at:

What's Happening?

DHS has just released a series of policy changes to the RAP program.

GROUP COMPOSITION – DHS has revised its policy regarding RAP group composition for RAP Cash Assistance.  The policy has changed to include only the adult applicant and the spouse.  The RAP group policy for medical assistance remains the same. 

REFERALS TO JET – Clients who receive RAP cash assistance have work requirements similar to FIP recipients EXCEPT that they usually are referred to contractors who specialize in working with refugees.  DHS has revised its policy to allow RAP clients who are proficient in English and are work ready (e.g.already have a professional degree but need recertification) to be referred to JET instead of a Refugee Contractor.

INCOME – REFUGEE RESETTLEMENT ASSISTANCE  - DHS has clarified policy regarding refugee resettlement funds.  These funds are issued during the first 90 days of entry into the U.S. and may be paid directly to the refugee or to 3rd parties.  For eligibility purposes, these payments are excluded from income for FIP, RAP, State Disability Assistance (SDA), Medicaid, and the Adult Medical Program.  It is counted as unearned income for Food Assistance Program (FAP) purposes.

What Should Advocates Do?

Advocates should make clients aware of the new rules.  Advocates should advise clients who may wish to challenge their reassignment to JET to request a hearing and contact legal services.

What Should Clients Do?

If you are reassigned to JET and believe this action is inappropriate, request a hearing and find legel help (see below). 

Finding Help

Most legal aid and legal services offices handle these types of cases, and they do not charge a fee.

You can locate various sources of legal and related services, including the free legal aid office that serves your county, at

You can also look in the yellow pages under "attorneys" or call the toll-free lawyer referral number, (800) 968-0738.