Welfare Benefits

Ukrainian parolees with no income or low income can receive the following welfare aid:

Medical Insurance (Medi-Cal)

Medicaid is government-funded health insurance for low-income individuals and families. You are eligible for Medicaid if your family’s income is below a certain threshold (in most states, 138% of the federal poverty level).

Ukrainian parolees receive full Medicaid coverage, including basic dental and vision services. All health services and prescription drugs are covered by Medicaid at no cost to you. However, almost every visit to a specialist or procedure requires a referral and prior approval of the insurance. Unless you have an emergency, you should always go to your assigned primary care physician (PCP) first, and receive a referral for whatever specialist you need to see or procedure you need to have. See more at the Health Insurance section.  

Food Assistance (CalFresh)

CalFresh, also known as food stamps, is financial aid to help people buy food. Recipients are provided with a debit card, and the government makes monthly contributions to this card. This debit card can be used to purchase food items at grocery stores.

The maximum benefit amounts are as follows:

  • $250 for a single person
  • $459 for a family of two
  • $658 for a family of three

For other family sizes, please refer to the provided chart.

It’s important to note that if you have additional income or assets, the benefit amounts may be lower.

Additionally, it’s worth mentioning that cash withdrawals using the CalFresh debit card are limited to the state of California. However, you can conveniently make purchases using the Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card at stores that accept it in any state. Furthermore, food stamps can be used in any state as well.

As a recommendation, it is advisable not to withdraw cash from the EBT card. Purchases made directly with the card do not incur taxes on the transaction amount, given that these benefits are considered social assistance. However, if you withdraw cash and use it for purchases at the store, taxes will be applied to each transaction. To maximize your benefits, it is advisable to make purchases directly with the EBT card at participating grocery stores.

Cash Assistance for Needy Families (CalWorks)

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) is cash aid to families with minor children. The amount of cash you can receive under TANF varies state by state and depends on your family size.

To be eligible for TANF, you must meet the following requirements:

  • Be a resident of California
  • Have a child under the age of 18
  • Have a low income
  • Be willing to work or participate in training or education programs

The benefits you receive under TANF vary depending on your family size and income. However, you may receive cash assistance, food stamps, child care assistance, and other services.

In addition to TANF, some states also run other assistance programs as part of TANF, including:

  • Homelessness prevention programs
  • Child care assistance programs
  • Employment assistance programs

To apply for TANF, you must contact your county welfare department. You can also apply online at the CalWORKs website.

TANF can be a valuable resource for families who are struggling to make ends meet. By combining this information with the previous chapter, individuals can understand the available cash assistance (CalWORKs) programs in California, helping them access the necessary resources for their families.

Refugee Cash Assistance (RCA)

Refugee Cash Assistance (RCA) is cash aid program for single people and couples without minor children, who do not qualify for TANF. RCA is given for 12 months, with maximum monthly payments of $537 per single person or $726 per couple.


WIC (short for Women, Infants and Children) program provides supplemental healthy foods and health screenings for low-income pregnant, breastfeeding, and non-breastfeeding postpartum women, and to infants and children up to age 5. Unlike the above-mentioned programs for which you can apply though your county welfare agency, you should apply for WIC via your state’s WIC website or by calling a toll-free number.


Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is financial aid for people aged 65 or older, blind or disabled. The maximum monthly amount of SSI is $841 per person, or $1,261 per couple where both spouses are eligible. Apply for SSI at the Social Security Administration office.

Resettlement Services

Aside from the above-mentioned mainstream benefits, Ukrainians may qualify for refugee resettlement assistance, such as, for example, Matching Grant program, which includes assistance with housing, cash, immigration forms and employment. Inquire about these additional services at your closest resettlement agency.

How to Apply

You can apply for mainstream benefits such as Medi-Cal, CalFresh, CalWorks and RCA at your county welfare agency. They are named differently in different cities and states, for example:

San Diego County: Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA)

Los Angeles County: Department of Public Social Services (DPSS)

Sacramento County: Department of Human Assistance (HA)

Bring with you your passport, form I-94 (if you did not receive I-94 at the border, you can print it online) and a proof of residence in your county (any official letter showing your name and address, a utility bill in your name, a rental agreement, or a letter from the owner of the house saying that you live there).

In most California counties, you can apply online using the website:

Or find your local county office in the online directory.

It is often better to find the closest office and come in person – that way you can get help in filling out the forms and ask your questions. You can also be interviewed and receive approval right away instead of having to wait for a telephone interview after submitting an online application.

All welfare agencies provide interpreters. Request an interpreter in the office or at the beginning of the telephone interview if you don’t speak English.

Health Insurance

If you are a resident of California, you may buy any insurance plan available on California’s Covered CA virtual marketplace. For low-income state residents, the following options are available.

If your income is below 138% of Federal Poverty Level (FPL):

You are eligible for Medi-Cal, which is California’s version of Medicaid – free, government-funded health insurance. In California, all immigrants who arrived on humanitarian parole or have been granted TPS, and who meet the income requirement are eligible for full Medi-Cal coverage

In California, the Department of Health Care Services issued guidance regarding the eligibility of Ukranian nationals for Medi-Cal. Print it and have it with you at the Department of Human Assistance. Don’t be shy to show it to the social worker.

Medi-Cal Eligibility for New Ukraine Arrivals (EN)
Право на получение Medi-Cal для прибывших из Украины (RU)

If your income is between 138% and 250% of FPL:

You can buy a subsidized private health insurance plan with premium as low as $0. Like Medi-Cal, these plans cover routine doctor appointments, immunizations, prescription drugs and other services. Typical visit and drug costs to you are: Therapist – $5, Specialist – $8, Drugs – $3. Dental and vision plans are separate and require paying monthly premiums. Your children can still be placed on full Medi-Cal coverage.

You are entitled to visit the same doctors and clinics regardless of whether you are on a full-priced, discounted or Medi-Cal insurance plan. The quality of your care will not suffer because you pay less for your insurance. Your doctor will likely not know how much you pay for the visit.

Local Resources

San Francisco Bay Area

Where to Learn English

Community Colleges

Most community colleges offer ESL courses in the fall, spring, and summer. Many classes are free. For paid classes, ask about refugee resident exemptions – as a Ukrainian refugee you may be entitled to in-state tuition at community colleges.

Public Libraries

Libraries are not just for books! Obtain a free library card to access online and in-person ESL resources such as classes, practice tests, and conversation groups at your local library.

Ukrainian Community


  • St. Volodymyr Ukrainian Catholic Center
    • 445 Washington Street, Santa Clara
  • Saint Michael Ukrainian Orthodox Church
    • 345 7th St, San Francisco


  • Ukrainian School of San Francisco
    • 345 7th St, San Francisco, CA 94103
  • Happy Explorer Pre-School

Grocery Stores

  • Slavic Shop 1080 Saratoga Ave # 1, San Jose
  • Samovar 1077 Independence Ave, Mountain View
  • Crossroads Market 720 San Antonio Rd, Palo Alto
  • Europa Plus 5350 Geary Blvd, San Francisco
  • Royal Bakery 5335 Geary Blvd, San Francisco
  • Gourmet Corner 301 Hartz Ave #104, Danville

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