US immigration law — Can I file for unemployment?

Losing a job can be devastating, especially for people who are hard workers and proud of their jobs. But things may be a little more complicated for certain groups of people like immigrants who are working in Louisiana and worried about running afoul of U.S. immigration law. Immigrants who are legally living all across the country are worried about what filing for unemployment means for their future in the United States.

Immigrants who want to obtain green cards and become permanent residents are probably the group dealing with the most fear over unemployment. The relatively new “public charge” rule considers whether someone seeking permanent status might need public assistance in the future, and it limits his or her ability to get a green card accordingly. What many do not realize is that unemployment is not a form of public assistance, and the public charge rule does not apply to applications for citizenship or green card renewals.

Unemployment is actually insurance that employers and workers all pay into. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services — USCIS — considers unemployment to be an earned benefit, one that someone must actually work to get. Taxpayers do not contribute to unemployment at all, so it is not a form of welfare.

This information might not alleviate everyone’s fears. There have been many changes to U.S. immigration law over recent years, leaving many people confused about what their options really are. When someone feels stuck in a situation and is not sure where to go, it can be helpful to seek guidance from an attorney who is familiar with the issues that immigrants in Louisiana face.