Foreign Credentialing and Skills Recognition Revolving Loan Program (Foreign Credentialing Loan) provides small loans to assist eligible immigrants living in Maine who are not yet eligible to work in the United States.
Loans for up to $700 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.
Funds are limited and will be awarded on a first-come, first-served basis. The lifetime maximum for this loan is $700 currently.
Loans are not subject to interest but are subject to a loan origination fee of 5%, due to the Finance Authority of Maine (FAME), which will be added to the loan proceeds.
How Do I Apply?
Before starting the application, download and review the application guidelines and checklist.
Complete the online application, and include these documents:
- 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.
- Invoices or screen shots of expenses that the loan funds will be used to cover.
- 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 has been pending for less than 150 days, a copy of the USCIS Form I-589 filing receipt.
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.
If you are loaned funds, you may be asked to answer additional questions or provide receipts as proof of use of funds.
Is There an Application Cost?
No, there is no cost to apply for this loan. 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 loan, 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). You shall provide a copy of electronic or paper evidence establishing that USCIS Form I-765 Application for Employment Authorization was filed with federal immigration authorities which shall state which section allows the immigrant to request a work permit.
Alternatively, an asylum-seeking immigrant whose application has been pending for fewer than 150 days shall provide a copy of electronic or paper evidence establishing that s/he has filed USCIS Form I-589.
You are not eligible if you have been denied a work permit.
In the case of asylum seekers, you are eligible if your USCIS Form I-589 request for asylum has been pending for fewer than 150 days since the date of its filing and you have not yet been able to apply for a work permit pursuant or, if more than 150 days have elapsed since the asylum application was filed, you have a pending USCIS Form I-765 application for a work permit at the time of making the application to the program.
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 Loans Be Used For?
Loans can be used for eligible costs.
“Eligible costs” include, but are not limited to, the following example costs 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 loan documents that must be signed and returned to FAME.
What Are the Loan Amounts?
Borrowers may receive up to a lifetime maximum of $700.
Are There Any Fees Associated with the Loan?
Loans are not subject to interest but are subject to a loan origination fee of 5%, due to FAME, which will be added to the loan proceeds.
How Are the Funds Paid?
Upon approval of an application and completion of loan documents, funds will be disbursed directly to and must be used by the borrower pursuant to the agreement entered into between the borrower and FAME. 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?
This is a loan that must be repaid within 18 months at an interest rate of 0%.
The first payment will be due 60 days after you have obtained a work permit or 30 days after you have obtained employment.
Can Payment Be Deferred?
You may request a payment deferment and deferments may be granted for up to three months at a time, but in no event will more than two, three-month deferments be granted. You must submit a written request on the form provided by FAME and include the justification for the deferment and any required documentation. Deferments may be granted for the following reasons:
1. The temporary disability of the borrower.
2. Your temporary inability to repay the loan. A temporary economic hardship may be established by providing evidence that the borrower’s income is below 150% of the Federal Poverty Level as determined annually by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, such as proof of current receipt of: General Assistance as defined by 22 M.R.S.A. § 4301(7); Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits through the U.S. Department of Agriculture; Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) benefits through the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services; or MaineCare benefits through the state of Maine.
3. Demonstration by you that immediate repayment will cause an undue hardship, as determined by FAME.
To request a deferment, you must complete and submit the Foreign Credentialing & Skills Recognition Deferment form. Please contact FAME directly to request this form.
What If I Have Additional Questions?
A paper form can be accessed here.
If you still have questions, please contact our customer service specialists Monday to Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
207-623-3263 | Toll-free: 800-228-3734 | TTY: 207-626-2717
On-demand translation services can be obtained by calling FAME.