Unemployment Benefits for Foreign Nationals on Non-Immigrant Visas

Shiva Karimi
Director, Corporate Department, and Chair, Immigration Practice Group, and Managing Director Boston Office
Published: McLane.com
March 23, 2020

Q: Can foreign nationals on Nonimmigrant Visas (NIV) collect unemployment benefits? 

A:  Each state has its own laws pertaining to unemployment.  Many require an individual to be in status or authorized to work in order to collect benefits.  However, most nonimmigrant visas only allow a foreign national to work for the petitioning employer.  Therefore, when the employment relationship is terminated, the foreign national usually falls out of status.  Some foreign nationals (H-1B, E-2, L-1, and some others) are allowed a 60 day grace period to find new employment. Arguably, those individuals are in status and may be subsequently authorized to work.