Comprehensive COVID-19 Emergency Services Guide for Job Seekers & Alumni | Upwardly Global

Comprehensive COVID-19 Emergency Services Guide for Job Seekers & Alumni | Upwardly Global

Comprehensive Emergency Services Guide for Job Seekers & Alumni

This comprehensive emergency guide has information on securing your income, nutrition, healthcare, and more drawing from a variety of public, private, and nonprofit resources. For a shorter guide on government benefits programs, please read UpGlo’s Where can I find help during the pandemic? Government assistance FAQs.

If you are experiencing an urgent need, dial 211 or visit 211.org to be connected to resources in your area. For information on staying safe during the pandemic, visit the Center for Disease Control’s COVID-19 webpage. For information on COVID-19 in other languages, click here.

If you have any questions or additions to this guide, please email outreach@upwardlyglobal.org


Economic recession has negatively impacted the job market, but there are reasons to be hopeful. Companies are still hiring, and professional jobs are more secure than others. To learn how to take control of your job search, read Upwardly Global’s Job Searching During a Pandemic: How-to Guide.

If you are an immigrant or refugee professional in need of 1:1 assistance, visit Upwardly Global’s Full Program page to learn about our free job coaching program. If you are not eligible, register for Upwardly Global’s Public Portal to receive self-paced, online training through October 1st, 2020.

Securing Your Finances

Whether currently employed or unemployed, you want your finances to be strong. Read the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s Managing your finances during coronavirus guide for helpful pointers, as well as AFL-CIO’s “When the Paycheck Stops” for those who’ve recently lost work.

Your Rights as a Worker

Coronavirus raises numerous questions about workplace safety and discrimination, to learn more:

Paid Sick and Family Leave

The Families First Coronavirus Relief Act (FFCRA) mandates that companies with 500 and fewer employees to provide paid sick and family medical leave. This means you may receive paid time off if you, or a family member, contract coronavirus. Read the details here. Check with your employer to learn how these benefits apply to you.

There are no restrictions on immigrants’ ability to collect paid sick leave.

Government Benefits

Government benefits are available to certain immigrants who meet eligibility criteria. These programs help with income, nutrition, healthcare, and more. The best way to know whether you are eligible is to apply. Many states provide state-funded benefits to immigrants who are ineligible for federal benefits.

The Families First Coronavirus Relief Act (FFCRA) and The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) have expanded government benefits programs. To read how these expansions impact you as an immigrant, click here.

Affected immigrants should be aware that public charge does not apply to testing, screening, and treatment of COVID-19. Public charge still applies to public benefits, however USCIS considers coronavirus a “relevant factor.” Affected immigrants can submit a statement and supporting documentation for USCIS consideration when applying for a change of status (Read 12).

Use Benefits.gov to find benefits programs you may qualify for—the questionnaire also screens for immigrant eligibility.

Economic Impact Payments

The CARES Act provides a one-time payment of up to $1,200 to individuals who qualify. Immigrants with a valid social security number who are “substantially present” and filed taxes in 2018 or 2019 are eligible. If you have not received your payment yet, visit Get My Payment. Beware economic impact payment scams.

Unemployment Insurance Benefits

Unemployment Insurance (UI) replaces lost income if you have lost your job and it is not your fault (for example, you were laid off or your place of work shut down). The CARES Act expands UI for:

  1. Those who have reduced work hours due to COVID-19
  2. Those who have quit their job due to a “credible” health concern (usually coronavirus infection)
  3. Gig workers, those with a short work history, and those who previously maxed out their UI payments

CARES also extends the benefits period from 26 weeks to 39 weeks in most states. The $600/week that UI recipients received in addition to their benefits amount has expired, but a recent executive order gives UI recipients an extra $300/week. Read more to learn when this takes effect in your state.

UI is available to immigrants with valid work authorization during the period of employment that the government considers when calculating the amount of your weekly payment (the “base period”), during the benefits period, and at the time of applying.

Find your state unemployment program

Workers’ Compensation

Workers’ Compensation provides medical and/or wage payments to people who fall ill or are injured on the job. States are trying to determine if workers’ compensation applies COVID-19 (some states say it does under certain circumstances). Many states allow workers to receive workers’ compensation regardless of immigration status but check with your state workers’ compensation division to be sure.

Find your state workers’ compensation division

Cash Assistance (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, TANF)

TANF provides cash assistance for food, shelter, utilities, and expenses other than medical to low-income families with children. TANF also includes vocational training and job placement for unemployed parents. This is available to certain non-citizens, including refugees, asylees, and some Green Card holders.

Find your state TANF program

Food Assistance (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, SNAP)

SNAP helps low-income families purchase food.

SNAP is available to certain non-citizens, including refugees, asylees, and some Green Card holders. Immigrants who are not eligible may apply through eligible household members including children.

Find your state SNAP program

Emergency Food and Shelter Program (EFSP)

EFSP provides emergency food and shelter to hungry and homeless individuals. This program is run by FEMA and the United Way and is available to anyone, regardless of immigration status.

Find emergency food and shelter near you

Food and Healthcare for Mothers (Women, Infants, and Children, WIC)

WIC provides food and healthcare assistance to low-income mothers who are pregnant, breast-feeding, or have children up to age 5. This is available to anyone regardless of immigration status.

Find your state WIC program

Healthcare (Medicaid, Emergency Medicaid, and CHIP)

Medicaid is free or low-cost medical coverage for low-income families. Emergency Medicaid covers certain health emergencies for the uninsured. The Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) provides free or low-cost medical coverage to children in low-income families that exceed Medicaid income requirements.

Medicaid and CHIP are available to certain non-citizens, including refugees, asylees, and some Green Card holders, but states can extend these benefits to other types of immigrants. Emergency Medicaid is available to anyone regardless of immigration status.

Find your state Medicaid office

Child Care

Some parents, especially essential workers, need child care services at this time. Every state has a different, rapidly changing approach to providing child care during the pandemic. Familiarize yourself with state actions on child care and check back frequently.

State-level information on child care

Child Care search engine

Free Health Clinics (Community Health Centers, CHCs)

CHCs are free and low-cost clinics throughout the United States. You can access them regardless of your immigration status or ability to pay.

Find a local Community Health Center

Home Utilities Assistance (The Low Income High Energy Assistance Program, LIHEAP)

LIHEAP helps low-income families with home energy costs. Immigrants are eligible for LIHEAP if one household member is receiving TANF, Social Security, or SNAP payments.

Be aware that utilities companies across the country are assisting customers who cannot pay. Contact your energy provider immediately if you will be unable to pay.

Find your local LIHEAP program

Telephone and Internet Assistance

The FCC Lifeline Program helps low-income households pay for internet and telephone costs. Households at or below the federal poverty line or receiving SNAP, SSI, Medicaid, or Federal Public Housing are eligible for one Lifeline Program discount.

Learn more about the Lifeline Program.

The FCC has also encouraged a range of telecom companies (see the list here) to assist their customers during the pandemic. Reach out to your provider to learn what they are offering, which may include delayed payments, suspended late-fees, and more. Also be aware of these low/no-cost private services:

  • Comcast is offering 2 months of free internet to new “Internet Essentials” customers who are low income through December 31st, 2020. This program is $9.95/month plus tax for returning customers.
  • Spectrum is providing free/low-cost internet to qualifying individuals and families.
  • Xfinity is providing free WiFi hotspots for the duration of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Other Government Actions

Federal, state, and local governments are working nonstop to confront the coronavirus pandemic. You can track federal government actions here and state actions here.

Rent and Mortgage Relief

The CDC recently halted all evictions in the United States through December 31st, 2020. Read more.

Additionally, Emergency protections for renters and mortgage holders are in effect in numerous cities and states.

If you cannot pay rent, tell your landlord immediately. You may use this letter template.

Student Loan Relief

The CARES Act suspends all payments, interest, and collections on government-held federal student loans through September 30, 2020. This only applies to covered FFEL and Direct Loans, not Perkins or FFEL loans. Contact your loan provider to ensure you are covered.

If you have private student loans, you may be eligible to pause payments depending on your state. Read more here.

Immigration & Travel

  • Immigration courts and USCIS offices have resumed services.
  • Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) says it will be scaling back enforcement measures during the outbreak.
  • The State Department has information on international travel restrictions to and from certain countries.

Community Aid

Many grassroots initiatives and nonprofits are assisting those affected by the pandemic. The following national programs may be able to provide you with financial aid and healthcare assistance.

Cash Assistance

You can find direct cash assistance from individuals in your community using Mutual Aid Hub. There many special interest emergency funds for Domestic WorkersCreatives and FreelancersTipped and Service WorkersUndocumented/DACA immigrants, and LGBTQI people of color.

United Way and Muslims for Humanity are national nonprofits that provide financial assistance with food, rent, and more.

Nutrition Assistance

Food pantries provide direct donations of grocery items to individuals who are food insecure.

Find your local food pantry

Healthcare Assistance

Family & Mental Health

Distance Learning

For a comprehensive list of distance learning resources, see this list of helpful articles from Education Reimagined, or this one from Newsweek.

Private Sector Aid

Many private companies are offering assistance to consumers and employees during the pandemic. To find a full list of companies that are pledging various forms of assistance, visit this U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation webpage.

Gig Company and Amazon Employee Assistance

UberLyftPostmatesDoordash, and Instacart are working to ensure contractor safety in a variety of ways. Check with your gig company to see what they are offering. Amazon employees and contractors may qualify for company benefits during the outbreak.

Private Health Insurance Assistance

Many states are mandating private health insurers make coronavirus testing and treatment easier. Check with your private health care provider for more information about this and what else they are offering.

Banking & Personal Finance Assistance

The government has encouraged banks to provide relief to credit, mortgage, and other customers. Some states are suggesting similar protections. Check with your own bank to learn more.

Resources by State

State and local coronavirus relief efforts are too numerous to list — stay tuned to what is happening in your community to learn about available resources. You can also contact your UpGlo job coach for possible suggestions. Below are state resources that can help you cover your basic needs.

Resource Directories









New Jersey

New York






Washington, D.C.

Washington State



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