COVID 19 – Unemployment Benefits for Immigrant Workers

immigrant’s eligibility for unemployment benefits and consequences on green cards

Question: Do I, as an immigrant, qualify for unemployment benefits if the coronavirus (COVID-19) causes me losing my job?

Answer: Yes, however, immigrant workers must satisfy the same requirements for #unemployment. You must be unemployed due to no fault of your own, and you must have earned enough wages or worked enough hours in your “base period” to qualify. If you are currently employed or if you quit, then you are not eligible for unemployment benefits.  If your employer offers sick leave to address COVID-19 in lieu of layoffs, you cannot quit on your own volition to get unemployment benefits. If an employer shuts down operations temporarily and no work is available, you are eligible for unemployment.

Question: If I cannot go to work because I quarantined myself, can I get unemployment?

Answer: MaybeIf your employer allows you to work remotely and you choose not to accept that work, you are not qualify. If the employer requires you to stay home but did not offer work from home, then you might be eligible for benefits.

Question: How much is unemployment?

Answer: Depends on your state law and the reason why you cannot go to work. In addition, Pandemic Federal Unemployment Compensation  allows an additional  $600 on top of weekly unemployment benefits for up to four (4) months, not to exceed July 31, 2020.

Question: Does unemployment benefits hurt my green card #adjustment of status application in the future?

Answer: USCIS does not consider “unemployment” in the public charge inadmissibility determination because they are considered earned benefits through the person’s employment. Unemployment is a type of insurance that employers pay into. This isn’t taxpayer money, so it does not affect your green card.

Question: If I am undocumented, do I get #unemployment benefits?

Answer: If you are undocumented, chances are you do not have valid employment authorization or valid SSN, then you are not eligible for unemployment benefits.

Question: I applied for work authorization extension and have not yet received my new work card, can I get unemployment benefits?

Answer: If you have proof that you have applied for an extension, you might allowed to receive benefits. 

File unemployment with the Missouri Department of Labor here.

File unemployment with the Kansas Department of Labor here.

Author: Maya King

Attorney Maya King helps individuals, families, and businesses navigate the complex United States immigration system.