Do Unemployment Benefits Affect Green Card Application?

COVID-19 started spreading months ago and still is a thing. The strict lockdown rules and stay-at-home regulations have shut down the economy of the world, leaving millions of people jobless—the immigrants who have applied for green and are wondering whether they can apply for Unemployment benefits. Many immigrants are afraid to apply for unemployment insurance, also called UI, due to the recent public charge rule. They are afraid if unemployment benefits will negatively affect their green card application or immigrant status? We have answered all sorts of questions related to unemployment insurance, the public charge rule, and its impacts on green cards in this guide. Let’s have a look!

What Is Unemployment Insurance?

If a person loses his job during the COVID-19 outbreak, he will get unemployment insurance. Unemployment insurance grants money to workers who lost their jobs with no fault of their own. US citizens can only get unemployment benefits if they left the job due to certain conditions; you got laid off because of a budget cut or supply shortage. A person who quits a job due to over work is not eligible for unemployment benefits.

The amount of money workers get depends upon the gross money they earned during the base period. The base period is of 12 to 18 months typically. Unemployment insurance is compensation for the worker’s loss. Unemployment insurance provides money with the condition that the person will actively search for the job. You cannot just get green card unemployment benefits sitting at home and doing nothing.

A green card is a document that permits you to live in the US permanently. As a green card holder, you can get unemployment benefits. There are certain eligibility criteria that you need to meet before getting unemployment benefits.

Immigrant Eligibility for Unemployment Insurance

As stated earlier, you have to be eligible first to get unemployment insurance. Following are the conditions that make you eligible for benefits:

  • You Have No Fault in Your Unemployment

Green card holders can only apply for unemployment benefits if they have no fault in losing their job. If you want to be eligible for unemployment benefits, you need to make sure that it’s not your fault. You have to prove that you didn’t leave your job. If COVID-19 caused you jobless, then you may get green card unemployment benefits.

  • You Are Able and Available to Work in the US

If you are a green card holder, you certainly meet this requirement. Anyone with a valid green card and work permit can get unemployment insurance. You have to be authorized to work in the US. Many immigrants make a mistake by letting their work permits expire. If you don’t have a recent and valid work permit, you are not likely to get UI.

  • You Must Have Earned Enough Wages During the Base Period

Unemployment insurance is not welfare; it’s insurance. In order to be eligible for unemployment benefits, you must have earned enough wages during the base period. If you had a full-time job during the past 18 months, you do not need to worry. If you haven’t earned enough money, that doesn’t mean you don’t qualify! You will still get unemployment insurance, but that amount will be much smaller. 

What You Will Need to Make an Unemployment Claim

Each state has its own rules and documentation to claim for unemployment insurance. Following are some of the general things you must keep ready:

  • Valid Social Security Card and Social Security Number
  • Gross earnings record from your base employment period.
  • Information about the employers along with their details. The detail must be of all the employers from the last 18 months.
  • Number of working hours
  • Dates of employment
  • Green card status, if you are not a US citizen, you will need your employment authorization document.

This list of requirements may vary from state to state. If you are confused, you should contact your state’s UI office. If you have expired immigration identification and lapse documentation, contact USCIS to file a renewal of documentation to make a claim.

Unemployment Benefits for Green Cardholders

If you are a permanent resident, you will certainly have a green card number and alien registration number. If you want to have unemployment benefits, you must have them both. In case you have lost your card, you need to file an F-190 form application, which is also called Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card. This process may take up to 3 months, but the USCIS will allow you a green card number, which you can use to have unemployment benefits.

Unemployment Benefits for Permanent Residents with Work Authorization

DACA holders, adjustment of status applicants, and asylee are included in the individuals who are lawfully present in the US with work authorization. If you are one of them, you can also apply for unemployment benefits. For this, you will need a valid and unexpired work authorization card. You will need to provide employment dates and alien registration number.

In case you lost your work authorization card, you will have to file form 1-765, which will provide you a new card. This process can take three months, but USCIS will allot you a receipt number, which you can use.

Will Filing for Unemployment Benefits Affect My Green Card Application?

Many legal immigrants are afraid if claiming for unemployment will affect their green card application. If you are an immigrant and waiting for your green card, while others were trying to extend their residency and some were very close to becoming green cardholders.

How will unemployment benefits affect your green card or someone’s green card renewal application? This question has afraid so many immigrants that they hesitate to claim unemployment benefits. Above all, Trump’s Public charge rule administration policy has made it more difficult. Immigrants are likely difficult to get permanent residency. Fortunately, the public charge rule is not written to apply for green card renewal applications.  

What Is A Public Charge?

A public charge is a non-citizen who gets certain benefits for a period of more than 12 months. If you receive two benefits in one month, that will count as two months. The matter of consideration is, if USCIS finds you to be a public charge, you will lose:

  • Your green card
  • Admission into the US

Whom Does the Public Charge Rule Apply?

The public charge rule applies to the individuals applying for a green card or seeking admission in the US. The public charge rule is not applicable if:

  • You are applying for citizenship.
  • You have a green card.
  • You are filing to renew your green card.
  • You are filing to replace your lost green card.
  • You are a refugee
  • You are applying for a green card based on a U visa or T Visa.

If you fall into any of the above categories, you can get unemployment benefits.

Will Filing for Unemployment Benefits Hurt My Immigration Status?

You have understood the public charge rule clearly. Many candidates do not file for UI benefits because they do not want to be considered a public charge. We have tried to answer your question:

Unemployment insurance is an earned benefit, not welfare. It’s our right that you have earned, not a charity. You and your employer have already paid for this insurance, then what’s to worry about? Unemployment benefits don’t hurt your immigration status. One thing you need to ensure is that you specify yourself as a non-US citizen on the application form. USCIS has clearly said that unemployment insurance is not considered for the public charge. If you are a naturalized US citizen, you have nothing to worry about. There are no negative results if you apply for unemployment insurance.

Final Words

There should not be any negative impacts on green card applicants and immigrants who apply for unemployment benefits. The situation may vary from person to person; therefore, we recommend you to consult an immigration attorney. As long as you receive benefits lawfully, they will not hurt your green card application. The public charge rule seems scary but receiving unemployment benefits has no negative impacts under the public charge rule.

Frequently Asked Questions

We have answered some of the frequently asked questions in our guide; let’s have a look:

  • Can Non-US Citizens Receive Unemployment Benefits?

If a non-US citizen holds a social security number, he will be eligible for unemployment benefits. As long as someone has work authorization, they are eligible.

  • Will Unemployment Benefits Affect My Green Card?

No. The public charge rule doesn’t hurt the green card renewal application and green cards.

  • Do You Have to Be A US Citizen to Receive Unemployment Benefits?

No, you don’t. You just have to show that you were a lawful immigrant and had work authorization for the time you earned the wages you are claiming for.

  • Can I Apply for Unemployment Benefits with An Expired Green Card?

No, you must have valid proof of your current permanent residency. Without your green card’s essential information, you won’t be able to get unemployment benefits. Many residents couldn’t enjoy unemployment insurance in the 2020 COVID-19 outbreak because they didn’t have their essential information on their green cards.

  • Will Collecting Unemployment Affect My Green Card or Citizenship Status?

No, receiving unemployment benefits is not considered to have negative impacts on your citizenship application or status.

  • Will Claiming for Unemployment Benefits Hurt Me?

Yes, it may hurt you indirectly. Because the amount you will get will be smaller than the pay you were receiving in the past. But, being unemployed and getting the payment is a treat you don’t want to miss. You will have to do proper financial management, otherwise you will go missing on utility bills and school fees.

  • How Much Is US Unemployment Benefit?

A person may receive $378 per week as an average unemployment benefit in the US. This figure varies from state to state, as Mississippi paid an average of $213 while Massachusetts paid $555 per week.