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Will unemployment benefits trigger the public charge rule?

On Behalf of | May 20, 2021 | Immigration |

Immigrants in the United States faced much more scrutiny than natural-born citizens. There are more limits on what behaviors they can engage in and more consequences for getting in trouble or asking for help.

The public charge rule has long limited citizenship and immigration rights among those without adequate financial resources for independent living. In recent years, there has been very strict enforcement of the public charge rule that affects their immigration status if they receive certain state aid.

Will unemployment benefits trigger the public charge rule and affect your immigration status?

Unemployment has never triggered the public charge rule

For as long as the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has applied the public charge rule, unemployment benefits have not counted as a violation.

Instead, the public charge rule focuses on taxpayer-funded state aid programs. The longer someone receives such benefits and the more kinds of benefits they receive, the stronger the potential impact is on their immigration efforts.

Unemployment is an earned benefit paid for by an employer on behalf of their workers. Getting laid off or terminated and claiming unemployment does not make you a public charge. Unemployment is a crucial benefit that can help you cover your bills until you find a new job.

Enforcement of the public charge rule has changed

This year has already seen some important shifts in immigration policy. One of them involves how the USCIS applies the public charge rule.

Medicaid, public housing benefits and food assistance will no longer trigger the public charge rule either. Immigrants who need government aid or support due to misfortune will benefit from getting advice about the effect of the different kinds of aid on their immigration status before they accept anything.