“Alex is American, but Daphne is from Germany. NPR is using only their first names because they are waiting for the U.S. government to decide whether to grant Daphne a green card. This piece of paper would turn her from a temporary visitor — a foreign student — into a permanent resident, extending her right to work and live with her husband in the United States.
Theirs were among a half-dozen stories NPR gathered about legal immigrant workers, people earning a living and paying taxes in the U.S. yet fearful that collecting unemployment might jeopardize their immigration cases. Some were waiting on their first green cards; others were extending their residency or were even on the verge of becoming citizens.
‘What I’m seeing is a lot of clients who are eligible to apply for unemployment are simply too afraid to do so,’ said New York-based immigration lawyer Tsui Yee. ‘Does [unemployment] somehow trigger a red flag for immigration services? Since COVID started, that question has come up repeatedly.’”
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