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Are you a temporary worker in the U.S. who would like to receive unemployment benefits?

While temporary workers in the U.S. often do have access to unemployment insurance if they lose their job, a new program may change this - for some. Read on to find out what's new and what you can do if you lose your job in the U.S.

Unemployment insurance (UI) benefits are payments made from state governments to individuals who have lost their job due to layoffs, business closures, or any other circumstance that was not an employee’s fault. Payments are typically given every week to individuals who show proof that they are looking for a new job. Currently, federal law in the United States allows the states to administer their own unemployment programs and to determine who can qualify. This means that receiving benefits depends on the rules of the state where you are working or have worked. 

Temporary migrant workers, such as those who hold H-2A, H-2B, and TN visas, do not generally qualify for unemployment insurance benefits. This is because migrant workers’ visas link their employment status to a single employer. If a migrant worker then loses this job, he or she may no longer be considered to be “available for work,” something federal law generally requires for people seeking benefits. 

That being said, the new program, called the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), may be an avenue for temporary workers who are currently underemployed or unemployed to seek benefits. PUA was created under the new Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) and allows workers who are not regularly eligible for state unemployment insurance to obtain benefits if the unemployment is related to COVID-19.  Examples of unemployment related to COVID-19 could include work closures due to the pandemic or being forced to miss work because of COVID-19 symptoms. 

If  you are a temporary migrant worker in the United States and you recently lost your job, we would like to hear from you. We can better assess your eligibility to receive unemployment insurance benefits with specific information about your case if you reach out to us directly. Please note that PUA is set to end on December 31, 2020.


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