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.

USCIS Updates Guidances and Policies for Benefits Applications

Be careful petitioners and applicants, your application for immigration benefits may be denied if you do not have all evidence to prove you are eligible. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS) issued a new memo, to give its officers the right to deny visas if applications do not include all the necessary information when submitted.

CIS officers no longer need to first seeking additional evidence that might be needed to complete an application, or issuing a notice stating the intent to deny a request to adjudicate.

USCIS announced recently that it would also begin initiating removal/deportation proceedings against visa applicants who lack immigration status when their visa applications are denied.  For example, if you are are out of status when you applied for change of status, therefore, you are ineligible to change status, CIS will deny your application and start removal proceedings. Or you may be a F-1 student applying for the H-1b lottery, but due to all sorts of administrative delays, your H-1b is not adjudicate until your F-1 expired, and then unfortunately it gets denied and you are out of status. CIS can also place you in removal proceedings.

Despite CIS saying the new memos are “not intended to penalize filers for innocent mistakes or misunderstandings of evidentiary requirements,” it certainly feels that way. Immigration enforcement has always been the realm of ICE, not CIS. USCIS adjudications are often inconsistent and often arbitrary. Applicants have the choices to appeal CIS decision or to seek review, and such options will be lost.

USCIS to Conduct In-Person Interviews for Employment Based Green Card Applications and Refugee/Asylee Relative Petitions

Stating 10/1/2017, employment based green card Applicants will need to attend in person interviews

On August 28, 2017, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that it will start conducting in-person interviews for permanent resident “green card” applications, effective Oct. 1. USCIS will start interviewing the following two categories of green card applicants:

  • Employment-based adjustment of status applications;
  • Refugee/asylee relative petitions (Form I-730, Refugee/Asylee Relative Petition) for beneficiaries who are in the United States and are petitioning to join a principal asylee/refugee applicant.

USCIS stated the changes is to improve the detection and prevention of immigration fraud pursuant to Executive Order 13780, “Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States.” USCIS is planning an incremental expansion of interviews to other benefit types.

The two categories of immigrants were not subject to in-person interviews before. Employees who are applying for adjustment of status based on qualifying jobs are in the United States with valid non-immigrant status.

Read AILA 2017-18 President-Elect, ‘s thoughts on this issue.

CA9 Says TPS Recipient is Eligible to Adjust to LPR Status

TPS Recipient is Eligible to Adjust to LPR Status

The Ninth Circuit in Ramirez, et al. v. Brown, et al. found a Temporary Protected Status (TPS) recipient is deemed to be in lawful status as a nonimmigrant — and has thereby satisfied the requirements for becoming a nonimmigrant, including inspection and admission — for purposes of adjustment of status under INA §245(a). [read the opinion here 17033104]

Temporary protected status is a temporary immigration status to the United States, granted to eligible nationals of designated countries. It first requires a designation. When the Secretary of Homeland Security determines that a foreign state (or any part of a foreign state) faces an ongoing armed conflict, environmental disaster, or other extraordinary and temporary conditions that prevent aliens from returning safely, the Attorney General may designate that state (or part of the state) for TPS. USCIS may grant TPS to eligible nationals of certain countries (or parts of countries), who are already in the United States.  

The Ninth Circuit found that a TPS recipient is considered “inspected and admitted” under § 1255(a), and is eligible for adjustment of status because he also meets the other requirements.

Current TPS countries are:

Designated Country Most Recent Designation Date Current Expiration Date Current Re-Registration Period Current Initial Registration Period EAD Extended Through
El Salvador March 9, 2001 March 9, 2018 July 8, 2016 – Sept. 6, 2016 N/A Sept. 9, 2017
Guinea* Nov. 21, 2014 May 21, 2017 N/A N/A May 20, 2017
Haiti July 23, 2011 July 22, 2017 Aug. 25, 2015 – Oct. 26, 2015 N/A July 22, 2016
Honduras Jan. 5, 1999 Jan. 5, 2018 May 16, 2016 – July 15, 2016 N/A Jan. 5, 2017
Liberia* Nov. 21, 2014 May 21, 2017 N/A N/A May 20, 2017
Nepal June 24, 2015 June 24, 2018 Oct. 26, 2016 – Dec. 27, 2016 N/A June 24, 2017
Nicaragua Jan. 5, 1999 Jan. 5, 2018 May 16, 2016 – July 15, 2016 N/A Jan. 5, 2017
Sierra Leone* Nov. 21, 2014 May 21, 2017 N/A N/A May 20, 2017
Somalia Sept. 18, 2012 Sept. 17, 2018 Jan. 17, 2017 – March 20, 2017 N/A Sept. 17, 2017
Sudan May 3, 2013 Nov. 2, 2017 Jan. 25, 2016 – March 25, 2016 N/A Nov. 2, 2016
South Sudan May 3, 2016 Nov. 2, 2017 Jan. 25, 2016 – March 25, 2016 Jan. 25, 2016 – July 25, 2016 Nov. 2, 2016
Syria Oct. 1, 2016 March 31, 2018 Aug. 1, 2016 – Sept. 30, 2016 Aug.1, 2016 – Jan. 30, 2017 March 31, 2017
Yemen March 4, 2017 Sept. 3, 2018 Jan. 4, 2017 – March 6, 2017 Jan. 4, 2017 – July 3, 2017 Sept. 3, 2017

Check USCIS website for the most up-to-date information.

You Have Your H-1B Visa Now, How to Get EB-2 or EB-3

Most of the employment-based petitions require a Permanent Labor Certification (Labor Cert) from the Department of Labor and a permanent, full-time job offer. The operation of the permanent labor certification program is generally referred to as PERM. Once a permanent labor certification application has been approved by the DOL, the employer will need to seek the immigration authorization from USCIS.

Generally speaking, there are three steps before you become a permanent resident of the United States. First is that your employer must seek a PERM to show there is no Americans available for the job offered to you. Second is to submit the Form I-140, Petition for Alien Worker, to USCIS. Last is the filing of the Form I-485, Adjustment of Status, or Consular Processing if the applicant are outside of the U.S.

How long will the entire process take? Well, before seeking the PERM, the employer needs  to advertise the job offer to potential job seekers. After that, the Department of Labor has to adjudicate the PERM, which will take four to eight months. If the PERM is successful, and the employer files the Form I-140 immediately after, it will take another six months. However, the employer can seek premium processing to speed up the process for a fee. If the I-140 passes, the applicant now awaits the visa bulletin to update his or hers priority date. EB-2 or EB-3 of China faces a relatively long wait, but not all countries are the same. Once the priority date is current, the applicant can seek to adjust status, which will take another approximately six months to adjudicate.

Employment-Based Immigration: Second Preference EB-2

An employment-based, second preference visa is available to you if you are a member of the professions holding an advanced degree or its equivalent, or a foreign national who has exceptional ability.

  • Under the Advanced Degree subcategory, you have to prove that the job you apply for require an advanced degree and you possess such a degree or its equivalent (a baccalaureate degree plus 5 years progressive work experience in the field). Typically, documentations like official academic record showing you have an advanced degree is sufficient.
  • If you are an alien with exceptional ability in the sciences, arts, or business, you can apply for EB-2 as well. Exceptional ability documentations generally include, academic record, license to practice your profession, at least 10 years of full-time experience, recognition for your achievements, and etc.
  • Last but not least, a national interest waiver (NIW) will waive the Labor Certification process because your admission is in the interest of the United States. NIW applicants generally need to prove the combined quality of exceptional ability and your employment will greatly benefit the nation. In addition, the alien seeking a NIW can petition for him or herself.

Employment-Based Immigration: Third Preference EB-3

The EB-3 category is designed for skilled worker, professional, or other worker.

  • Within the Skilled Worker subcategory, you must show that your job requires a minimum of 2 years training or work experience.
  • The Unskilled Worker subcategory requires the applicant to demonstrate capability of performing unskilled labor.
  • If you seek to be qualified as a professional, you must be able to demonstrate that you possess a U.S. baccalaureate degree or the equivalent, and that a baccalaureate degree is the normal requirement for entry into the occupation. There is no substitution for the degree requirement.




EB-5 Visa Immigrant Investors Programs Extended Through Dec. 9, 2016 签证投资移民程序延期到2016年12月9日

EB-5 investment visa and green cardIt is the start of a new fiscal year (FY 2017), and new visa numbers are released on this month’s visa bulletin, which indicates the statutorily availability of limited visas. Availability of an immigrant visa means that eligible applicants can file Form I-485, Application for Adjustment of Status.

According to USCIS, President Obama’s new law H.R. 5325 extends the EB-5 Regional Center Program until Dec. 9, 2016. EB-5 was contained in last year’s Omnibus appropriations bill, it is automatically extended by a Continuing Resolution for its duration. USCIS has updated the program information on its October 2016 Visa Bulletin page. USCIS has announced that for October 2016, individuals seeking to file EB-5 adjustment of status applications must use the Final Action (FA) Dates chart.