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Unemployment benefits: how do green card holders and other immigrants apply

This is happening to millions of Americans. And immigrants are no different. The outbreak of COVID-19 and decrees of isolation led to a halt in the economy and left many people unemployed. Moreover, many immigrants are wondering if it is safe to apply for unemployment benefits. Unemployment Insurance (UI) rules are complex. And a new rule of public burden on the administration of US President Donald Trump has created fear, which only adds to the worry of lack of work. The good news is that there are unemployment benefits for green card holders and some other immigrants. Edition Citizenpath told everything you need to know.

Photo: Shutterstock

Unemployment benefits

Unemployment Benefit (UI) provides benefits to certain employees who are unemployed through no fault of their own. An employee who leaves work at his own request, as a rule, is not entitled to payments. However, those who have been fired or reduced are eligible for benefits. The amount that employees receive depends on the salary received by the employee for the “base period”. The base period varies from state to state, but usually covers the last 12–18 months of work.

The purpose of unemployment insurance is to help you when you are in search of a new job. It provides temporary financial support, expecting you to actively seek a new job.

Unemployment benefits are not a type of social benefits, it is insurance. The cost of unemployment insurance is paid by the employee and the employer during work during the base period.

UI right for immigrants

There are three basic requirements for unemployment benefits. Applicants must meet all of the following requirements:

  • To be unemployed "not through one's own fault." If you were fired due to an outbreak of coronavirus, you meet this requirement.
  • Have enough earned wages or hours worked during the "base period" to receive benefits. If you have worked full time during the past 18 months, you will almost certainly fulfill this requirement. Each state has its own base period. Your allowance is likely to decrease if you have not worked full time or have not worked the entire base period.
  • Быть “Capable and affordable” for work. If you have obtained a work permit in the United States, you are complying with this requirement. Anyone with a valid green card or work permit is suitable.

The third claim is important, and it is because of it that some immigrants lose their benefits. You must have a valid work permit during the base period, at the time you apply for unemployment benefits, and during the period when you receive benefits.

On the subject: Who work and how much Russian-speaking immigrants in the USA receive without experience

Thus, the requirements for immigrants are different from the requirements for US citizens. Americans always have the right to work in the United States. Permanent residents, people with work visas and people with green cards are eligible to work in the United States. Some immigrants may not meet this requirement if their work permit has expired or is not available.

The US Department of Labor states that in order to be “capable and accessible” to work, an immigrant worker must have a work permit at the time of applying for benefits, as well as a social security number.

The requirement to have a work permit will deprive most illegal immigrants of the opportunity to receive benefits. However, there are certain categories of immigrants who may be eligible for benefits. For example, DACA recipients and Temporary Protection Persons (TPS) are legally present in the country and are eligible to work in the United States.

What you need to apply

The documentation requirements for each state for applications for unemployment insurance are different. As a rule, you need to provide the following information:

  • Information about all employers for the last 18 months. This may include company name, manager name, address (mailing and physical address) and phone number.
  • The date of the last business day and the reason you no longer work.
  • Dates of work and hours worked.
  • Social Security number.
  • Citizenship status and, if you are not a US citizen, information from your work permit document.

The above list is typical, but may vary by state. Contact your state's UI office for specific information. Immigrants who have lost their immigration documents are not able to apply.

Permanent Resident / Green Card Holder

Permanent residents must have a valid green card and provide their alien registration number and green card number. Modern green cards contain all the necessary information. If you have lost your card, you can fill out Form I-90 “Permanent Resident Card Replacement Application”. Although you probably won’t receive a new card in a few months, the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will send a receipt number in about 2-3 weeks (it matches the green card number).

Legal immigrant with a work permit

Persons who legally have a work permit must have a valid, unexpired work permit card before applying for unemployment benefits. You will need your alien registration number and card expiration date. If you have lost your card, you can fill out Form I-765 “Application for a Work Permit”.

Non-Immigrant Visa Holders

Holders of a non-immigrant visa with employment rights may include categories such as H-1B, L-1, O-1 and TN and others. These applicants will usually need a visa passport and I-94 to obtain a UI. They will be required to provide details such as an arrival / departure record (Form I-94), visa number and visa expiration date.

On the subject: Layoffs due to the crisis: what to do to immigrants who are in the USA on a work visa

Public burden

The Trump administration's new interpretation of the social burden rule makes many immigrants afraid to apply for benefits. Unemployment benefits are a form of insurance, but unemployment benefits are “earned benefits” that are not taken into account when considering an immigrant as a public burden. USCIS emphasizes that it will not take unemployment benefits into account when defining “social burden”.

Also, applying for unemployment benefits should not affect green card applicants. However, individual circumstances may vary. For this reason, talk to an immigration attorney if you are currently applying for a green card or planning to in the future.

Miscellaneous immigrants dole Immigration in the USA

Read also on ForumDaily:

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Layoffs due to the crisis: what to do to immigrants who are in the USA on a work visa

An invitation to a dream: how a scientist from Belarus came to the USA for a year and stayed forever

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