Unemployment Benefits and Foreign Nationals – Part Three: How Does Receiving Benefits Impact My Future Applications?

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.

In October of 2019, the “public charge” rule, issued by the Department of Homeland Security, created new grounds of inadmissibility. For more information on the public charge regulations, click here. If you are eligible for and have received state or federal unemployment insurance benefits or a stimulus payment, these programs should not negatively affect future nonimmigrant or immigrant petitions under the public charge analysis. That is, unemployment benefits and/or stimulus checks should not negatively impact your H-1B, L, E, etc filings in the future. It should also not affect your current or future green card application, green card renewal, or naturalization (citizenship) applications.

Department of Homeland Security (DHS) stated it would not consider unemployment benefits as public benefits under the inadmissibility determination. DHS considers unemployment benefits to be “earned” benefits. Additionally, USCIS specifically states in its policy manual that unemployment should not be considered as a public charge bar for inadmissibility.

However, the Department of State has not confirmed whether unemployment insurance benefits will be considered as part of its public charge totality of the circumstances analysis. Therefore if you apply for a nonimmigrant visa or immigrant visa (visa used to enter the US as part of the permanent residence/green card process), then having received unemployment benefits may present an issue. This is yet to be seen and we have no guidance from the Department of State on this currently.

Further, USCIS has stated that treatment and testing related directly to the coronavirus will not be factored negatively against admissibility under public charge rules. However, the use of other public benefits such as SNAP may still contribute to public charge inadmissibility so it is important to contact an immigration attorney to discuss your specific situation before applying and receiving other public benefits.

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.