Immigrants in Georgia who have lost their jobs may be worried about filing for unemployment benefits. Changes to the public charge rule under the Trump Administration have left many people scared to apply for benefits because doing so could potentially harm their immigration status.

Under the public charge rule, U.S. Customs and Immigration Services can consider whether immigrants have used certain types of benefits, including Temporary Aid to Needy Families, food stamps and Medicaid when the organization is determining whether the immigrants are likely to become public charges. If an applicant is deemed likely to become a public charge, his or her immigration petition can be denied.

Unemployment compensation is not a public benefit, however. Instead of being paid for by taxpayers, unemployment compensation is a type of insurance that is paid for by employees and their employers. This means that immigrants who are legally working and living in the U.S. should be eligible to apply for and receive unemployment compensation benefits without fear of being deemed to be likely to become public charges and having their immigration petitions denied.

The administration’s interpretation and application of the public charge rule have left many immigrants worried about seeking help when it is needed. However, applying for unemployment compensation benefits should not trigger the application of the public charge rule. People who are applying for citizenship may want to consult with experienced immigration law attorneys for advice about their petitions and the process.

An attorney might assist their client with gathering together all of the documents and evidence that they should submit with their application and may help them draft their petition so that everything is completed correctly. The attorney may also answer any questions that their client has about the public charge rule and how it might be applied.