Alexandra Bondikov, business immigration attorney at PPID, went LIVE to discuss 3 top asked questions the firm is receiving from people in the U.S. that are on nonimmigrant work visas such as: E, H-1B, O, TN and many others. If you lost your job or are in fear of losing your job due to the COVID-19 pandemic, here are answers to some questions you may have:
Q.) What happens if my employer lays me off? Am I still in status?
A.) Most likely yes, at least for 60 days. The regulations allow for a 60-day grace period for most nonimmigrant visa categories if the worker lost his/her job through no fault of their own, as long as the validity of the underlying visa petition extends beyond 60 days from the date of separation. While it is discretionary, under the circumstances, it is reasonably safe to conclude that if you lost your job due to the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak, you will not be considered out of status for 60 days.
Q.) I lost my job while on a work visa, can I apply for unemployment benefits during the 60 day grace period?
A.) Maybe. Unemployment insurance is governed by each state and each state has different eligibility rules. Most require that the applicant be immediately available to work and to actively seek employment. Most non-immigrant workers are authorized to work for only one employer and will not meet this requirement. However, during the outbreak, states may reconsider their eligibility rules. Find your state’s unemployment insurance website, and review requirements and updates.
Q.) My state allows me to apply for unemployment benefits. If I receive unemployment benefits, will it be a violation of the public charge rule?
A.) No. Unemployment benefits are actually insurance and NOT a public benefit. Your U.S. employer is required by law to pay for this.
Please note that the above is meant to provide general information but does not cover every situation and will not be applicable to all cases. If your employment situation changes due to the coronavirus epidemic, please contact an immigration attorney.
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