With thousands of Georgians being laid off from work across the state, unemployment insurance (UI) is one of the key tools to keep workers alive during this public health and economic crisis. There are around 20,900 active DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) beneficiaries in Georgia. Since the program began in 2012, these individuals have had the opportunity to work legally in the United States. In Georgia alone, DACA recipients contribute approximately $ 66 million annually in state and local taxes and have purchasing power of approximately $ 802.7 million annually.[1] DACA recipients laid off during the coronavirus pandemic and in need of assistance should apply for a user interface if they meet the eligibility criteria.

Here are some things Georgian DACA receivers should know about the user interface:

What is Unemployment Insurance (UI)?

The user interface provides short-term income to people who lost their jobs through no fault of their own. In Georgia, the State Department of Labor (GDOL) manages UI payments.

Can DACA recipients apply for a Georgia UI?

Yes, if you meet all admission requirements. Under Georgian law, individuals must meet all of the following criteria to receive a user interface:

  • To have been fired from her last employer through no fault of her own;
  • Proof of Lawful Presence in the United States (A person is lawful present if they are a U.S. citizen, legal permanent resident, or are not legally present in the US. DACA recipients are lawfully present on their most recent work permit until the expiration date ); and
  • Capable, available and actively looking for suitable work. GDOL lifted this requirement for all new cases filed on or after March 14, 2020 during the coronavirus pandemic, but previous applicants must still meet this requirement.

If the Supreme Court ends the DACA program, how will it affect user interface eligibility?

If the Court allows the program to terminate, we could wind up the DACA in the next two years and let the program expire naturally. The decision of the Court of Justice could also terminate the program at the time the decision is published. Because of this uncertainty, DACA recipients should speak to an immigration attorney about their particular case and renew their DACA as soon as possible.

Are undocumented immigrants without a DACA eligible for the user interface?

No. Unfortunately, people who do not have a legal work permit and are not legally present in the United States are not eligible for the user interface, and any application by that person for a user interface could have serious civil and criminal penalties.

Does receiving the UI make me a public charge?

No, the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) specifically state that the user interface is not a public benefit or a factor in determining public charges. In fact, USCIS regards the user interface as a “deserved benefit” because the recipients worked for an employer who paid wage tax to the federal government on their behalf.[2]

You can download our full information sheet here.

[1] Svajlenka, NP (2019, September 12). What we know about DACA receivers, by federal state. Center for American Progress. https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/immigration/news/2019/09/12/474422/know-daca-recipients-state/

[2] United States Citizenship and Immigration Service. Policy Guide, Chapter 10. Public Benefits (See Part B. Public Benefits Are Not Considered). https://www.uscis.gov/policy-manual/volume-8-part-g-chapter-10