The current health crisis has thrown much of the country onto unsteady financial footing. For millions of Americans, it has cost them their jobs and their financial health, threatening to take away everything they have worked hard for.

While state and federal governments have been working hard to find a way to provide relief to these individuals, those with immigration status might be concerned about what that means for them. This is especially true given the tough words coming from some high up in the federal government.

One form of very real relief being made to Americans is increased unemployment benefits. Can you safely seek those as an immigrant? It depends on your situation. However, many immigrants can safely seek these benefits if they meet certain requirements. Unemployment requirements and its effects on immigration status vary in each jurisdiction or state you live in, so make sure to check with an attorney before you apply. Among those requirements are:

  • They are unemployed by no fault of their own.
  • They have enough work and earned wages during the period being considered.
  • They must be available and have the authorization to work.

Your immigrant status may be taken into consideration. If you’re undocumented, then you won’t qualify for unemployment benefits. Others must have work authorization at the time they apply for unemployment benefits, as this makes them able and available to work.

Additionally, these immigrants must have had work authorization during the period before they apply for benefits. So, if an immigrant had work authorization, worked for a significant period of time under that authorization, and kept that work authorization through the time he or she applied for unemployment benefits, then benefits are likely to be awarded.

There’s a lot of talk in our country about immigrants being a public charge. Regardless of what has been said, though, the federal government has clarified that unemployment benefits are earned and are, therefore, not considered a public charge. So, if you’re an immigrant who has lost his or her job due to the current state of affairs in our nation, you should talk to an attorney and discuss how best to pursue the unemployment benefits you deserve without any effect to your immigration status.