Clarity and Strength in Immigration Law

Unemployment Benefits and Foreign Nationals – Part Two: The CARES Act

By Samantha Davis, Richmond, Va Immigration Lawyer

We understand the uncertainty and stress that has unfolded in 2020, amidst a pandemic, concerning immigration announcements, and job instability for many. While we may not be able to eradicate these issues, we are releasing a series of blog posts to provide clarity during this uncertain time. This blog series will cover the following topics: (1) Eligibility for Unemployment Insurance; (2) the CARES Act; and (3) Consequences of Receiving Unemployment Insurance.

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act is an economic relief package designed to aid businesses, workers and families that may be impacted by the pandemic. The CARES Act created a variety of new programs, including additions to unemployment assistance.

For unemployment assistance, the CARES Act funds the following programs:

  • Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (PUC)
    • Provides individuals eligible for unemployment insurance with an additional $600 per week through July 31, 2020
  • Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC)
    • Provides an additional 13 weeks of compensation for individuals who have exhausted their regular unemployment benefits
  • Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Program (PUA)
    • Provides payment to those traditionally ineligible for unemployment benefits, like self-employed individuals, independent contractors, etc., if the reason the individual is unemployed or unable to work is related to COVID-19. There is a list of scenarios that would be considered as “related” to COVID-19.

As a Foreign Worker, Am I Eligible?

Each state has a different requirement for receiving these benefits based upon each state’s respective agreement with Department of Labor (DOL). The qualifications are similar to those listed in our first blog post.

However, the CARES Act also encourages states to remove the requirement that the person seeking unemployment benefits be “ready and willing to accept work immediately.” Again, it is critical to check with your state workforce agency to confirm if this requirement is removed. If it is, then even nonimmigrant visa holders such as H-1Bs, L-1s, etc may be eligible for the unemployment benefits.

If you are eligible for unemployment, you may be wondering how it may impact your future immigration applications or petitions, especially with the new public charge rule. Our next blog post discusses how receiving unemployment benefits can impact immigration status.

We are here to help you navigate the immigration maze with peace of mind and confidence. Contact Sumner Immigration Law to set a consultation to create your strategy today! We are immigration lawyers in Richmond, VA but we serve clients throughout the US and around the world. You can call us at 804-396-3412 or send us an email to info@sumnerimmigration.com. We look forward to hearing from you.