If you have a green card as a permanent resident of the United States and you get injured on the job, you may be concerned about seeking workers’ compensation because you are not yet a citizen. Minnesota workers with green cards can receive workers’ compensation benefits and should seek them out.
The Minnesota workers’ compensation laws specifically say that non-citizens can receive workers’ comp. People who are eligible for benefits include any employee “who performs services for another for hire including … an alien”. (Minn. Stat. § 176.011.) “Alien” usually refers to non-citizens. If you are a permanent resident of the U.S., you will qualify for workers’ comp provided that you:
- Were injured in the course and scope of your employment
- Performed services for an employer for hire.
Injuries at home or outside working time generally do not count for workers’ compensation, though there are some very limited exceptions. Also, independent contractors do not receive workers’ comp benefits, although many workers get misclassified as contractors by their employers.
Non-citizens face some unique issues during the workers’ compensation process. For example, the qualified rehabilitation consultant may have questions about your immigration status to help you job search. QRCs do have to follow state and federal laws relating to inquiries about immigration status. They cannot discriminate against you because you have a green card and are not a citizen. (Minn. Rules 5220.1801, subp. 9(Q).)
If you are in the process of getting your green card and are on a limited visa or do not have papers, you can still receive workers’ compensation. (Correa v. Waymouth Farms, Inc., 664 N.W.2d 324 (Minn. Sup. Ct. 2003).) If you cannot return to your old job, you do need to search for a new job (just as citizen workers do) to keep your benefits. (Id.; see Rivas v. Car Wash Partners, slip op. (W.C.C.A. June 4, 2004).) The QRC should keep your visa status in mind when making a rehabilitation plan, and not make a plan that would cause you to overstay your visa. Also, the QRC can ask you whether you have talked to an immigration lawyer about extending the visa or getting a green card.
Minnesotans who were injured at work and have concerns about green cards, visas, or immigration status should speak to a workers’ compensation lawyer as soon as possible. The lawyer can advise on options for fighting benefits denials and help with the vocational rehabilitation process.
Are you a permanent resident of the U.S. with worries about getting compensation for your workplace injury? Joe Osterbauer, Esq. and the Osterbauer Law Firm stand up for injured Minnesota workers’ rights. Joe’s 27 years of workers’ compensation experience and his team’s speedy service combine to get clients the results they need. To schedule a free consultation, visit Osterbauer Law Firm online or call Joe’s office at (612) 334-3434.