Unemployment Benefits for Immigrants During the Coronavirus Covid-19 Pandemic
April 13th, 2020
With the Coronavirus pandemic affecting the whole world, we want you to know that the team at FitzGerald Law Company is here to assist you in any way we can. For many of you, the pandemic has brought a reduction in your work hours, or a loss altogether of your job. With bills piling up and loved ones to provide for, the question that many immigrants are facing is whether they can apply for unemployment benefits. For many immigrants, the answer will be straightforward: if you have an unexpired valid work permit (Employment Authorization Document) and Social Security Number, you are eligible to apply for unemployment benefits. Of course, as with any application for a government benefit, it is important to ensure that the information you provide on the application is complete and accurate.
However, for other immigrants, the answer will not be so straightforward. Unemployment benefits are a public benefit, and as you know, our office recommends avoiding public benefits due to the negative immigration consequences they can have. Nevertheless, because the current crisis is a highly unusual and extraordinary situation, receiving unemployment benefits for a limited period of time should not have an impact on most pending or future applications for immigration benefits.
Unfortunately there are cases where receiving unemployment benefits may have a significant negative impact, for example, Consular Processing applications (Form DS-260) or employer-sponsored residency petitions. For these kinds of cases, the receipt of unemployment benefits should be avoided.
For some visa-holders their eligibility for unemployment benefits will be limited, for example an F-1 student with an EAD through Optional Practical Training (OPT), is eligible for unemployment benefits for only 90 work days, because after 90 days of unemployment their eligibility for OPT is lost [90 work days not calendar days].
Some visa-holders, such as those with H-1B visas & L-1A visas, are simply ineligible for unemployment benefits because their authorization to work in the U.S. is based on their visa and as soon as their employment ends, their visa technically ends as well.
As always, no two cases are the same and it is important to receive legal advice specific to your particular situation. The team of FitzGerald Law Company is ready to answer our clients’ questions and provide guidance as we always do. Call our main number: 617-523-6320 or send in an appointment request online if you need any help from our immigration, criminal defense and personal injury lawyers in Boston.
Although the coronavirus pandemic is certainly bringing new stresses and worries to everyone’s lives, it may also be an opportunity to spend more time with our families. We hope that you are all staying safe and healthy.
Desmond P. FitzGerald &
The FitzGerald Law Company Team