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Immigration Rules: What Do Immigrants Need to Know about Unemployment Compensation?

Are immigrants eligible for unemployment compensation?

Yes, if you are an immigrant who has legal permission to work in the United States [have either an Employment Authorization Document (work permit) or are a Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR)], you may be eligible for unemployment compensation if you lost your job or your work hours were reduced due to COVID-19.   For more information on unemployment compensation & COVID-19 in Ohio, click here.

Can undocumented immigrants receive unemployment compensation?

No, a person must have legal permission to work in the U.S. to be eligible for unemployment compensation.

How do I apply for unemployment compensation?

For detailed information about how to apply for unemployment compensation, please click here. Please note that the online unemployment compensation application is available in English only. If you speak a language other than English, call 877-644-6562 to complete your application over the phone. Because many people are applying for unemployment, you may have to wait on the phone for a long time. If you have additional questions about your employment rights, benefits, or unemployment assistance, you can also call Legal Aid’s Worker Information Line @ 216-861-5899 in Cuyahoga County and 440-210-4532 in Ashtabula, Geauga, Lake and Lorain Counties.

If I receive unemployment compensation, does that count against me for “public charge?”

No, immigration officials do NOT consider unemployment compensation when deciding whether a person is a public charge.   Unemployment compensation is NOT a public benefit.  For more information on public charge, click here.

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