Helping workers who are financially struggling is the goal of unemployment insurance and the state of Georgia has tools to help during this public health and economic crisis.
Georgia is home to over 20,000 active Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) beneficiaries. Since the program began in 2012, DACA individuals have had the opportunity to work lawfully in the U.S. In Georgia, DACA recipients contribute approximately $66 million a year in state and local taxes and have a spending power of approximately $802.7 million annually. DACA recipients who have been laid off during the coronavirus pandemic can apply for unemployment insurance, if they meet the eligibility criteria.
What is Unemployment Insurance?
Unemployment Insurance provides short-term income to individuals who lost their jobs through no fault of their own. In Georgia, the state’s Department of Labor administers these payments.
Can DACA recipients apply for Unemployment Insurance in Georgia?
Yes, if they meet ALL of the following eligibility requirements.
- Have been laid off from their last employer due to no fault of their own;
- Have proof of lawful presence in the U.S. A person is lawfully present if they are:
- A U.S. Citizen
- A lawful permanent resident
- Is a non-citizen legally present in the U.S. DACA recipients are lawfully present through the expiration date on their most current Employment Authorization document.
- They are able, available, and actively searching for suitable work. (The Georgia Department of Labor has waived this requirement during the coronavirus pandemic for all new cases filed on or after March 14, 2020, but previous applicants must still meet the requirement.)
If the Supreme Court ends the DACA program, how will that impact eligibility for Unemployment Insurance?
If the Court allows the termination of the program, it could wind down DACA over the next two years and let the program expire naturally. The Court’s decision could also end the program at the time the decision is released. Due to this uncertainty, DACA recipients should talk to an immigration lawyer about their case and renew their DACA as soon as possible. We are here to help and answer your questions.
Are undocumented immigrants without DACA eligible for Unemployment Insurance?
No. Unfortunately, individuals who do not have legal authorization to work and are not lawfully present in the U.S. are not eligible for Unemployment Insurance and an application by such a person could lead to serious civil and criminal legal consequences.
Does receiving Unemployment Insurance make me a public charge?
No, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) clearly states that Unemployment Insurance is not a public benefit and is not a factor in a public charge determination. In fact, USCIS considers Unemployment Insurance an “earned benefit” because recipients have worked for an employer that has paid a payroll tax to the federal government on their behalf.
What about other states?
DACA recipients may be eligible for state unemployment benefits as long as their work authorization is valid; however, unemployment benefits eligibility varies from state to state; we are looking into each state to see if DACA recipients are eligible for unemployment benefits and will update this page as we find more information.
To know if you qualify for unemployment benefits in your state, please visit the Department of Labor’s website in your state to learn more about their eligibility requirements.
Immigration COVID-19 Updates
- All immigration courts are closed until May 29, 2020.
- There will be no USCIS interviews until June 4, 2020.
- All consulates are still closed as of May 8, 2020.
Zaira Solano, the founder of Solano Law firm, was on Facebook Live on May 9, 2020, giving an immigration update on the courts and how we are working on your applications and cases during the COVID-19 crisis. Watch here.