UNEMPLOYMENT – NOT PUBLIC CHARGE
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, many of you may have applied for and obtained unemployment benefits because of business closures and layoffs. Rest assured that unemployment benefits are likely not going affect your immigration case in terms of the public charge rule.
The Pubic Benefit Rule is based on the idea of self-sufficiency which has been a basic principle of US immigration since the 1800s. Since that time Congress has put into statute that foreign nationals are inadmissible to the United States if they are unable to care for themselves without becoming public charges. What factors are taken into consideration when determining if an applicant is going to be a public charge is the issue at hand.
You can rest assured knowing that filing for unemployment will not make you inadmissible under the public charge determination. The Department of Homeland Security and USCIS stated that they would not consider unemployment benefits as public benefits since they are considered to be a person’s earned benefits through employment.
I’m sure you’re also wondering, “What if I have had to receive testing, treatment or preventive care due to COVID-19? Would that make me inadmissible under the public charge rule?” The answer is likely no. If you have been provided testing, treatment, or preventive care due to COVID-19, don’t worry, USCIS announced that it will not be counted against you as a public benefits charge.
However, please be very careful with any other benefits you seek and also be sure that if you are applying for unemployment benefits you truly qualify to get them and also that you are not jeopardizing your status or future plans by taking it. Please read Unemployment Benefits for Nonimmigrants’ Szew Law Blog Post for further information.