Are you eligible for $15,600 as an undocumented workers from the excluded workers fund? I’m going to explain: What it is. Who can apply. How to apply and when.
Democrats sent a letter to President Biden asking for immigration reform to be included in the infrastructure bill – what does this mean?
K1 visa applicants were removed from the travel bans in place from certain countries. And I’m also going to talk about why you should file your taxes jointly as an immigrant.
I’ll be covering all those topics and more about immigration in the US in today’s video so keep watching.
Do you have an immigration issue? Call us.
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For those who may not know me, my name is Andres Mejer. I’m an immigration attorney and immigrant.
My office works with people trying to get a legal status throughout the US and the world. Our office is based in New Jersey but we can help you anywhere in the world with your US immigration issue.
If you get value from this video please subscribe to the channel and hit the bell for notifications.
If you haven’t heard my story I came to the US from Chile as a child. I didn’t speak English and for a long time, I didn’t have a legal status.
I know what it’s like to live in fear of being deported and even after I got my green card, because I didn’t understand the immigration system, I almost lost it.
That’s part of reasons that I do these videos. I want you to understand the immigration system and I want you to get the legal status you want as soon as you can possibly can nor do I want you to lose it once you have it.
If you know of other immigrants who would benefit from the knowledge I share here, please share this video and/or channel with them.
As I mentioned we have lots to talk about today. Drop a comment below to let me know what is most important to YOU to know more about in your immigration journey, and if I can, I’ll answer that in an upcoming video.
Like I said at the beginning I’m going to share more about the Excluded Workers Fund, tax filing, and requests by democrats to President Biden for immigration reform along with a few other items that I think anyone who is interested in immigration in the US will want to know about.
Excluded Worker’s Fund
First up the Excluded Worker’s Fund.
The Excluded Worker’s fund says that you (as an undocumented immigrant) can get a one time $15,600 payment or a $3,200 (ONLY IF you meet certain requirements – if you’d like to know if you qualify, keep listening).
This bill is for anyone who lives in New York who lost income due to Covid-19 but didn’t qualify for stimulus payments and/or unemployment. The program is being administered by the NY Department of Labor and you must submit all the documents I’ll review with you to that agency.
So that’s the biggest requirement for anyone who hopes this applies to them. You MUST be a resident of New York because this is a New York law. Frankly, even if you aren’t in New York, I’d keep listening because other states may pass something similar and it would be good to know this information (and you can share with those you know in New York). Since our main office is in New Jersey, and I’m licensed to practice law in New York many of our clients (and viewers) come from New York.
To be eligible for this you:
- must be a current New York resident and had to have lived in New York before March 27, 2020 (so that’s last year);
- you had to have lost all or part of your income due to Covid-19, and;
- you earned less than $26,208 total in the past year (12 months).
Let’s talk about each of those separately.
How Do You Prove Residency?
Remember I said you must be a current resident and must have been a resident since March 27, 2020. Your name and address (that proves your residency) must be on the required documents. The acceptable documents include an unexpired New York driver’s license or state id.
If you don’t have either of those, you need to submit a utility bill with your name, a bank or credit card statement, a lease, mortgage or property tax statement, or a letter from New York City housing authority.
If you don’t have the ID and use one of the bills I mentioned, you must have two of those.
If you’re homeless, you need a letter from a homeless shelter or from a non-profit that helps homeless individuals. The bills or letters used as proof have to be dated before March 27, 2020 (since you had to have lived in New York before March 28, 2020) and the other must be no earlier that the date the law goes into effect.
Now we’ll talk about the second criteria: What is considered lost income?
You could have been laid off due to COVID or your hours were reduced. You might have gotten COVID and couldn’t work. For some families they may have had the person who was the sole wage earner die from COVID. Or anyone who became disabled because of COVID.
I read a very sad statistic the other day beside the fact that over half a million people have died from COVID in the US alone, there have been 3.1 million cases and half of those have permanent damage to their heart or brain from Covid. Sadly, we are going to be seeing the effects from Covid for generations to come.
What about if you didn’t file taxes during those years you must prove you lost income from Covid? If you didn’t file taxes and can’t prove you lost money due to covid you can STILL apply to get the lower amount $3,200.
What should you do if you didn’t file taxes? You could submit a letter from your employer or pay stubs/wage statements OR a W2 or 1099.
How Much Money You Will Get
The third criteria is you must have earned less than 26,208 in the last 12 months. Now let’s chat about how much money you will get.
There is a two-tier system for this. The more documentation you have to prove you are eligible, the more money you can get.
You need to show you filed taxes in 2018, 2019, or 2020 AND you need to prove you’re a New York resident during the time period required.
The determination for how much money you will get is based on a point system. That’s why I said earlier, the more documentation you have the more money you can get.
The point system works this way:
- Each document I’m going to share first is worth 4 points.
- You must prove your identity with a:
- NY State driver’s license (undocumented immigrants are eligible for one),;
- state ID card or IDNYC, or a US Passport.
- They all must be valid meaning not expired. If you have each of those to submit with your application, they are worth 4 points each.
- You can also provide a foreign passport (worth 3 points), or a photo id issued by the NY Office of Mental health (worth 2 points).
- You could also provide other proof of who you are but they are only worth 1 point:
- A marriage certificate
- A birth certificate
- A birth certificate from a foreign country
- A NYC parks and recreation card (yes, really)
- A diploma or transcript from High School or college
You may be wondering why I say this is for undocumented immigrants? If you are undocumented, you might also be worried that this is a way for ICE or DHS to find you and use this information against you.
- The bill says specifically that the application will not ask about your legal status.
- The budget bill said that the application you submit cannot be used by ICE to prove your identity, it should not ask your citizenship or immigration status, or that you aren’t eligible for a social security number. Remember if you don’t have a social security number you can get an ITIN number and file taxes with that.
- You do not have to prove you are legally present in the US to get this money.
When You Will Get the Money
If you are eligible, when do I think you’ll get this money? Sadly, it could be months.
Like I said you need to apply through the Department of Labor. The state is still developing rules about it and as far as I know hasn’t even written the application. It was just passed by the legislature and signed by the governor a short time ago so things are still being put in place to make this happen.
Keep in mind, that both of these payments have an automatic deduction or tax that is taken out before you get the money. The larger payment has $780 taken out of it and the smaller has $160 deducted so keep that in mind if you are eligible.
Democrats’ Reconciliation Bill
Moving on to our next topic: I’ve talked before about how the democrats might be able to use a reconciliation bill to get some immigration laws passed.
The reason this is important is that reconciliation bills only require 51 votes rather than 60 required of most bills. (If you remember we now have 51 democratic votes with Vice President Harris in the Senate).
Reconciliation bills address the budget and there are usually one or two voted on each session. This year there will be three reconciliation bills voted on. They’ve already passed one. Now there will be two more.
Since there will be three reconciliation bills that means democrats can push through more ambitious measures if they are related to taxing and spending.
So that’s the big thing to remember – anything they put in the rule and vote on must be related to taxing and spending.
Leading senate democrats sent a letter to President Biden on April 13th asking him to include immigration reform measures related to tax and spending in the coming reconciliation bill. As we find out more if he does that and what is included, we’ll be sure to let you know. If you subscribe to our channel for notifications, that will help you hear about that as we share it.
EAD or Employment Authorization Documentation
Employment Authorization is also known as a work permit. For most trying to get one you’ll file an I-765.
If you’ve applied for one since Covid started, you’ve probably been frustrated with how long it is taking to get your employment authorization, as with most things’ immigration – it’s taking longer than usual.
This is especially impacting over 100,000 people with H4 and L2 visas (these are spouses of H1B and L1B visa holders). USCIS has been dragging the process out for far longer than is normal.
On March 23, 2021 a class action lawsuit was filed by AILA (American Immigration Lawyers Association) and several private law firms for people in this category. Many of them have lost their jobs and/or employers told them they won’t wait for them to get their EAD.
So, the way it works is they get approved for their L2 or H4 visa, which isn’t happening and once that is approved, they apply for their work permit. Since the visas aren’t being approved in a timely manner, they can’t even apply for their EAD.
Some of them have left the US or not even been able to enter due to this, and it is causing family separation. Remember one of the missions of USCIS has historically been keeping families together. This was changed during the Trump administration, but we believe the Biden administration will move back to that though they haven’t officially announced that yet.
Fiancée visa, K1 and Other Immigration Visas
Really good news for those applying for a fiancée visa or K1 and other immigration visas – they are now travel ban free.
I know I mentioned in at least one past video that people coming into the United States were not allowed to enter if they had been in the People’s Republic of China, Islamic Republic of Iran, Schengen Area, United Kingdom, Republic of Ireland, Federative Republic of Brazil, or Republic of South Africa within the last 14 days before entering the US.
A lawsuit was filed about this issue for K1 and immigration visa applicants.
On April 8, 2021 the Department of State announced: The Secretary has determined that the travel of immigrants, fiancé(e) visa holders, certain exchange visitors, and pilots and aircrew traveling to the United States for training or aircraft pickup, delivery, or maintenance is in the national interest for purposes of approving exceptions under the geographic COVID Presidential Proclamations (9984, 9992, and 10143).
The State Department says processing these types of visas is based on local conditions so it may not change very much if your local consulate or embassy is closed but at least it seems like IF there is a visa available and the embassy is open, those applying for a K1 visa might see some movement in their application.
The other part of this announcement is that if you are coming from these countries, you don’t need to quarantine for 14 days.
Now let’s talk about TAXES.
Most years, in the US you must file your taxes on or before April 15. This year the deadline to file was extended for Federal tax filings – the new filing date is May 17, 2021.
Check your state to find out if they have extended their deadline as many have as well.
Say you don’t have a social security number, do you still need to file taxes? The simple answer is: Yes.
You may be wondering why. Filing taxes show you are a person of good moral character – which you must prove for many immigrant applications, so I recommend you do file taxes if you are working.
Now, why does it benefit you to file jointly with your spouse? If you are filing for a green card by marriage, so you are married, you should file your taxes jointly not as a single person. Remember, it’s up to YOU to prove to USCIS that you have a bona fide relationship.
They start with the idea that all marriages are entered into under false premises. One way to prove you have a bona fide relationship is to show them things you do together. So, you show them you live together, that you have bills together, and filing taxes jointly shows supports your application.
Yes, you may get more a refund if you can both file as a single person.
But let’s consider at the long-term benefit – would you rather (have a bigger refund for your taxes and not get your green card) OR (get a green card)?
Filing jointly doesn’t guarantee approval. And if you file as a single person, you MAY still be approved but the more evidence you have to prove you have a bona fide relationship the better and filing taxes jointly as a married couple can help.
Thank you to everyone who watched and commented on our videos. That’s all for tonight. I hope this was helpful because one of the reasons I became an attorney was to help people.
If you need help with your immigration case call us. We can’t work with every person who contacts us but if we can’t help you, we won’t take your money.
Thanks for watching. Stay healthy and be well.