I was provided with a number of informational pamphlets at the end of a 5-minute layoff call at 9am which was scheduled with less than 15 minutes of notice.
The following Wednesday, I was at the neighborhood social dance, trying to take my mind off the stress of job hunting in Q4 and interview preparation with some live music.
One of the great things about finding hobbies and building community outside of tech is that it extends your social circle to include so many lovely people from different backgrounds and walks of life.
I got talking to someone, also an immigrant, who told me that they had recently learned that legal permanent residents in the US can apply for unemployment benefits without jeopardizing their immigration status.
Until this point I had not thought about claiming unemployment benefits; I had never claimed them at any point in my life, in any country I had lived in. I realized that I had somehow along the way allowed myself to be convinced that even if I wanted to apply, I wouldn’t be eligible because I am not a citizen.
Upon further reading, I learned that unemployment:
- Is considered an “earned benefit” by the USCIS, which excludes it from “public charge” considerations
- Is funded by employers who pay Federal Unemployment Tax (FUTA) and State Unemployment Tax (SUTA)
- Can be claimed even by laid-off workers who have signed severance agreements
None of the informational pamphlets provided to me by Beamery mentioned any of this information.
Why? It turns out that the rate at which employers have to pay FUTA and SUTA can increase if the number of workers who have been laid off by an employer claiming unemployment increases.
Naturally, I reached out to as many as my former colleagues in the US as possible to share this information, as it seems like many US citizens are also a little hazy on the specifics of unemployment eligibility.
I was fortunate to have secured multiple offers within a month of being laid off. I accepted and signed one of those offers last week. So how does this work with unemployment?
Well, in WA, you are required to file a weekly claim online demonstrating that you have been looking for work and have applied for 3 jobs in the past week. This was easy enough for me to do at the end of 2023 as I was applying and interviewing actively.
I received an email last week information me that I had to attend a “Reemployment Services and Eligibility Assessment” appointment with a “WorkSource Specialist” within ~2 weeks or I would be required to pay back all unemployment benefits I had received to date.
I scheduled the call and attended this week, taking the opportunity to inform the Employment Security Department employee I met with that I had accepted a job offer, was going through the background check and was due to start working again next month.
It turns out that there is no procedure in place for what I must assume is at least a somewhat common situation of the start date of a new job being a few weeks in the future.
I was informed that I need to continue applying for at least 3 jobs every week in order to be able to file the online weekly claims. And now I need to attend another one of these meetings a week before I start working to show that I have looked into Labor Market Information about my career path and used jobscan.co to scan my resume for ATS-compatibility.
I wonder how many people are left in a situation where they have to send out what I can only characterize as “bogus” job applications multiple times a week to continue receiving unemployment income until their official job start date, and how much of everyone’s time gets wasted in this process.