Changes in the economy are unpredictable, and even the most diligent of workers can find themselves suddenly unemployed for one reason or another. As an immigrant with a green card or who currently works in the United States through an immigration visa, you may wonder what kind of impact your pending or ongoing unemployment claim could have on your immigration status.
Particularly with the recent focus on the public charge rule that precludes those seeking citizenship, a green card or entry into the United States from securing their goal if they required too many forms of public assistance for too long, it is natural to worry that a claim for unemployment benefits might affect your immigration status.
Unemployment benefits are not considered the same way as other programs
Unlike many other forms of government aid, like Medicaid or Welfare, workers collecting unemployment benefits must have paid directly into the system in order to claim those benefits. In other words, receiving unemployment does not make you a public charge but is instead drawing on contributions made as a direct result of your employment and work.
The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services is very clear on its stance regarding which benefits leave someone vulnerable because of the public charge rule. Unemployment benefits are not among those benefits, although food stamps and other assistance that you may need while on unemployment can trigger the public charge rule. The less time someone requires state benefits, the less likely they are to trigger the public charge rule.
Losing your job could affect your work visa
Depending on the exact circumstances that led to you losing your job and the kind of visa or immigration status that you currently have, your unemployment status could affect your immigration process.
If your employer terminated you and had previously helped you secure your visa, the end of your job could impact your visa. However, if your employer laid off multiple workers or furloughed workers due to extenuating circumstances, that may not as quickly or directly impact your immigration status, especially if regaining your job in the foreseeable future is a possibility.