Foreign Credentialing and Skills Recognition Grant Program

The Foreign Credentialing and Skills Recognition Grant Program provides small grants to assist eligible immigrants living in Maine who are not yet eligible to work in the United States prepare for entry into the workforce.

Grants for up to $1,000 are available to help pay for the costs associated with the process of becoming work-ready while waiting for issuance of a work permit by federal immigration authorities.

How do I apply?

The Foreign Credentialing and Skills Recognition Grant Program application is available online. Funds are limited and grants will be awarded on a first-come, first-served basis. Applications will be accepted as long as funds are available.

  1. The application for the Foreign Credentialing and Skills Recognition Grant Program must be completed online. You will not be able to save an application in progress and return to it lateronce you begin the application, you will need to complete it.
  2. Before you begin, have all documents required to complete your application in a format ready to upload (e.g., photo, scan, PDF):
    • A copy of identification documentation, such as a passport (biographic data page only), consular identification card, or other government-issued identification documentation, even if expired;
    • Either a copy your USCIS receipt (electronic or paper receipt) for filing USCIS Form I-765 with an eligibility category beginning with C, or if you are an asylum seeker and your USCIS Form I-589 is currently pending, a copy of the USCIS Form I-589 filing receipt;
    • Invoices or screenshots of expenses that the grant funds will be used to cover.
  3. The program application link below will direct you to FAME’s online application system.
  4. Review the Application Guidelines & Checklist that is included in the application.
  5. Complete and submit the online application along with all required documents listed above. Applications submitted without all required documents will be considered incomplete.

The application may be filed directly by you or, at your request, by an adult education program of a school administrative unit that provides English as a second language, job skills, or other instruction or assistance to improve your work readiness.

Is there an application cost?

No, there is no cost to apply for this grant. The application is free.

You should not pay a fee to anyone for providing assistance with preparing and/or submitting an application.

Who is eligible?

To be eligible for a grant, you must be an immigrant residing in Maine and have filed an application or petition with federal immigration authorities that entitles you to request a work permit in any of the categories set forth in 8 Code of Federal Regulations, Section 274a.12(c) (2019).

In the case of asylum seekers, you are eligible if your USCIS Form I-589 request for asylum is currently pending and you have not yet been able to apply for a work permit pursuant to 8 Code of Federal Regulations, Section 274a. 12(c)(8) (2019).

You are not eligible if you have been denied a work permit or have already been authorized to work in the U.S.

Who is a “qualifying immigrant”?

For purposes of this program, a “qualifying immigrant” means a person who:

  • Is not a U.S. citizen;
  • Has filed applications or petitions with the USCIS or with the immigration courts of the U.S. Department of Justice, Executive Office for Immigration Review or with any successor federal immigration authority entitling the person to request a work permit while the person’s applications or petitions are pending; and
  • Has received education, work experience or work training, or any combination, in a foreign country.

What can the grant be used for?

Grants can be used for eligible costs.

“Eligible costs” include, but are not limited to, the following examples incurred or to be incurred by an applicant prior to obtaining a work permit and incurred or to be incurred for the purpose of improving the applicant’s work-readiness once they obtain a work permit:

  • Costs of translation into English of any diplomas, transcripts, certifications or other proof of trainings or experience in trades, or other documents establishing courses studied or the completion of secondary school or of higher education at either the undergraduate or graduate level.
  • Fees related to education evaluations establishing the equivalency level of education or experience attained abroad.
  • Costs of translation into English of documents related to professional licenses, registrations, or certifications of trainings or other experience obtained abroad.
  • Costs of translation into English of letters of reference or recommendations related to education or experience obtained abroad.
  • Fees related to test preparation courses or registration fees for a standard test of English as a foreign language such as the Test of English as a Foreign Language® (TOEFL) or other standardized test recognized worldwide that measures English language proficiency, when necessary for an immigrant’s work.
  • Expenses for employment or professional applications, certifications, licensing fees and related requirements for seeking employment, including but not limited to fingerprinting and required tests.
  • Fees related to obtaining a Maine driver’s license, including a commercial driver’s license, including but not limited to driver’s education course fees, learner’s permit application fees and driver’s license fees.
  • Costs to travel to the nearest location of any exam or test needed to establish the applicant’s skills or credentials or English language proficiency, such as the TOEFL, if there is no location within 60 miles of the Maine town in which the immigrant resides.
  • Costs of a filing fee required by the United States Department of Homeland Security, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, or any successor federal agency, to apply for the immigrant’s initial work permit.

How will I know if my application is approved?

Applications will be reviewed by FAME. You will be notified of your application status as soon as possible, but in general within 30 days of FAME’s receipt of a complete application.

If approved, you will receive a time-sensitive letter and documents that must be signed and returned to FAME.

What are the grant amounts?

Borrowers may receive up to a lifetime maximum of $1,000.

How are the funds paid?

Upon approval of an application and acceptance of the award offer, funds will be disbursed directly to the recipient. Funds will be disbursed in one lump sum via paper check drawn on Bangor Savings Bank to the mailing address indicated on the application.

Do funds need to be repaid?

No. This is a grant award and does not need to be repaid, unless FAME determines that funds were used for impermissible purposes.

What if I have additional questions?

If you have additional questions, please contact our education program specialists Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

By phone

207-623-3263 | Toll-free: 800-228-3734 | TTY: 207-626-2717

On-demand translation services can be obtained by calling FAME.

By email