Can I Get Unemployment Benefits as a Green Card Holder?

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Can I Get Unemployment Benefits as a Green Card Holder?

With COVID-19 continuing to ravage through the United States and millions of job losses, it’s natural for citizens, permanent residents, and visa holders to worry about issues like job security. So, if you’re wondering about unemployment benefits for green card holders, this guide will help you understand a little more.

Unemployment Benefits for Green Card Holders

During this period, the question of unemployment benefits for green card holders has been raised many times. The short answer is, yes, valid green card holders can apply for unemployment and other benefits in the same way as citizens so long as they provide the required documentation.

Permanent residents who want to claim unemployment must have a valid green card with a green card number and alien registration number. If you have lost your card for any reason, you will have to file an Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card, FORM I-90 with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).  This process  can be time consuming, but our experienced team at Henry & Grogan can assist in the I-90 replacement process to ensure that you receive proof of your permanent residence as soon as possible.

What Is Unemployment Insurance?

Unemployment insurance is the money you are entitled to if you lose your job for no fault of your own. If you lose your job for a reason within your control, you will not be entitled to unemployment insurance. If you get this insurance, it will usually be based on how much you earn in the ‘base period.’ This typically is for 12 to 18 months when you were employed and will depend on your earned benefit.

The unemployment insurance or compensation system differs from state to state. Each has its own set of rules to establish eligibility and benefits. You will need to prove that your hours were reduced or cut entirely for reasons that were beyond your control. This could be because of redundancies for specific positions, job losses due to pandemics, layoffs, or business restructuring. If you had to quit for particular circumstances, you might still be able to claim unemployment benefits.

How to Claim Unemployment?

If you are filing for unemployment, you need to know what documents to provide as it may differ in each state. The main ones you need to have include:

  • Valid social security number and card.
  • Proof of wages from your job over a period of time.
  • Details about one or more employers in the last 18 months, including the company’s name, phone number, address, and immediate supervisor.
  • Hours worked and employment dates.
  • Reason for unemployment.
  • Citizenship, immigration, or permanent resident status (non-citizens may have to provide employment authorization documents)

Unemployment Benefits for Immigrants and the Public Charge Rule

Immigration laws for employment and unemployment differ from those for green card holders and citizens. The public charge rule allows the U.S. government to deny a visa to anyone who will likely become a ‘public charge.’

Many immigrants were afraid to claim unemployment during the Trump administration due to its interpretation of the public charge rule to reduce the number of green card applicants or immigrants eligible for other visas. Recently, federal courts have vacated the 2019 Public Charge Final Rule and it is no longer in effect. USCIS may still consider the receipt of public benefits when adjudicating an application for adjustment of status. However, application for and receipt of unemployment benefits is unlikely to affect your immigration status.

However, visa holders and green card holders should talk to an immigration attorney  before applying for any government benefit to ensure that their status or any future application for immigration benefits are not affected.

In conclusion, eligibility for unemployment benefits for green card holders is similar to  that of U.S. citizens and is unlikely to affect your immigration status or any future application for naturalization. If you need any clarifications, talk to our experienced team to help you make the right claims.