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Do Unemployment Benefits Count Against the Public Charge Rule? | Immigration Attorney Mario Godoy

Do Unemployment Benefits Count Against the Public Charge Rule? 

Regulations to restrict the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) have resulted in many businesses closing or reducing hours, and the subsequent loss of employment for many Illinois residents.  Noncitizen workers must ensure that they meet state eligibility requirements before applying for unemployment. 

Do Unemployment Benefits Count Against the Public Charge Rule? 

Unemployment benefits are not counted against noncitizens for purposes of the public charge rule, but noncitizen workers must ensure they meet Illinois state eligibility requirements before applying. A noncitizen who receives unemployment benefits in Illinois due to business closings under coronavirus mandates likely will not have those benefits count against the new public charge rules. Unemployment insurance benefits in Illinois are funded by tax dollars collected from Illinois employers. If you meet eligibility requirements, you are entitled to receive the benefits. Unemployment benefits are not based on need and are not charity or welfare.  

USCIS Position on Coronavirus and Public Charge Rule

On March 13, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issued a statement on coronavirus and the updated public charge rule saying that coronavirus testing does not restrict testing, screen or treatment of COVID-19 and that noncitizens who are unemployed due to shutdowns need to provide documentation:

“The Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds final rule is critical to defending and protecting Americans’ health and its health care resources.  The Public Charge rule does not restrict access to testing, screening, or treatment of communicable diseases, including COVID-19… if an alien subject to the public charge ground of inadmissibility lives and works in a jurisdiction where disease prevention methods such as social distancing or quarantine are in place, or where the alien’s employer, school, or university voluntarily shuts down operations to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the alien may submit a statement with his or her application for adjustment of status to explain how such methods or policies have affected the alien as relevant to the factors USCIS must consider in a public charge inadmissibility determination. For example, if the alien is prevented from working or attending school, and must rely on public benefits for the duration of the COVID-19 outbreak and recovery phase, the alien can provide an explanation and relevant supporting documentation. “

Godoy Law Office is an established immigration law firm in Chicago and Lombard with DACA attorneys who are ready to help you interpret the law as it applies in your case and apply for deferred action if you are eligible. Contact us online or call today at 855-554-6369.

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