On Unemployment Benefits
As COVID-19 sweeps across the country, the U.S. economy has been suffering much. Not only has this pandemic been detrimental to large-scale corporations, but it is far more destructive when it comes to small businesses. This leaves many companies with no choice but to downsize or even close down, resulting in many people losing their jobs. In the three weeks leading up to April 9th, nearly 17 million people filed for unemployment.
Lately, we have received many questions concerning the eligibility of applying for unemployment benefits and the potential impacts it has on a noncitizen’s immigration status. Many are worried that applying for such benefits will have adverse effects on their immigration status.
Congress first established the concept of public charge in 1882. The public charge rule allows the U.S. government to deny a U.S. visa to anyone who “is likely at any time to become a public charge,” while the definition of “public charge” remained ambiguous.
The public charge rule sifts out alien applicants who are likely to become a public charge at any time. Self-sufficiency is a crucial value applicants are examined upon. Aliens who are unable to maintain self-sufficiency are ruled out to prevent their use of public benefits at any point in the future.
Luckily, unemployment benefits are not regarded to be public benefits. Therefore, as long as you meet the eligibility requirements for your state’s unemployment benefits, applying will not negatively impact your status or future immigration/visa applications.