• March 26, 2020

Coronavirus (COVID-19) updates

Coronavirus (COVID-19) updates

Coronavirus (COVID-19) updates 150 150 Office of Immigrant Affairs
Updated June 19, 2020

Immigrants in Los Angeles County, like all Angelenos, are worried about the coronavirus outbreak. Moreover, some immigrants are afraid that getting tested or treated will affect their immigration status. Below are answers to common questions. You should seek available testing and treatment, regardless of your immigration status.

FOR A LIST OF COVID-19 RESOURCES FOR IMMIGRANTS, PLEASE CHECK OUT THIS RESOURCE GUIDE

 

MEDICAL TESTING & TREATMENT

What should I do if I want to be tested or treated?

We strongly encourage all L.A. County residents who are interested in being tested to first contact their Primary Care Provider or Healthcare Center about receiving a test at their facility. If you do not have access to this care or are unable to contact them, free testing is available across the County of Los Angeles.

Visit this website for more information: covid19.lacounty.gov/testing.

For follow-up medical treatments, we recommend the following:

If you have insurance or Medi-Cal, call your doctor about testing and treatment. Avoid visiting your doctor until you speak with them. If you have an emergency, go to an emergency room or call 911. You can get current information here: publichealth.lacounty.gov

If you are uninsured, you can still get free testing and treatment regardless of immigration status. You may also qualify for My Health LA, a health care program for low-income LA County residents. Call 844-744-6452 for more information. Visit dhs.lacounty.gov/MHLA for a list of their clinics.

Will getting tested or treated for coronavirus affect my immigration status?

No. Your medical information is confidential. Your doctor may not share it with immigration officials. Also, the federal government has announced they will not consider coronavirus testing or treatment in the public charge test.

Download our informational poster about testing and treatment:
Coronavirus testing and treatment for uninsured residents poster. Call OIA at (800) 593-8222.
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CORONAVIRUS AID, RELIEF, & ECONOMIC SECURITY (CARES) ACT – STIMULUS FUNDS

Where can I see when I will get my stimulus check?

Economic impact payments are starting to be disbursed. For information about these payments, you can visit the IRS webpage dedicated to Coronavirus Tax Relief and Economic Impact Payments.

Will I get a stimulus check for my children? Do households with U.S. citizen children qualify for stimulus checks?

Both you and your spouse must have valid Social Security numbers to receive $500 for each of the dependent child under the age of 17 who also possesses valid Social Security number.  If one of the spouses does not have a valid Social Security number, the entire household is ineligible for the stimulus payment under the CARES Act.  The only exception to this rule applies to households with at least one of the spouses serves in the U.S. military.

I pay taxes. How come the government is not giving us any help?

Unfortunately, the CARES Act only authorized direct financial assistance for resident immigrants for tax purposes.  The Congress may be working on future economic stimulus programs that could benefit other groups of immigrants.  The state and local governments may also have additional financial assistance programs available soon.  We will keep you updated of any new developments here on this website.

Are certain/any visa holders eligible for any financial assistance?            

Yes, the CARES Act allows legal permanent residents and other individuals with employment visas to receive the direct stimulus payment if they are considered “residents” for tax purposes.  This allows work visa holders such as L-1 or H1-B holders to be eligible for stimulus relief.

Are DACA recipients eligible for a stimulus check?

Yes, DACA and TPS recipients are considered residents for tax purposes.  Both DACA and TPS recipients who meet other requirements under the CARES Act are eligible for the stimulus payments.

I owe back on my taxes. Would they keep my stimulus check, or would I get the check?

The CARES Act specifically ensures that all eligible taxpayers will receive the payment regardless whether they owe back taxes or not.  This also applies to eligible taxpayers who are in arrears on student loan payments.  However, the CARES Act does not place any restriction on child support garnishment.  You may see your payment reduced if you owe child support payment.

I heard that the Governor is giving financial assistance to immigrants. Is this true?

There will be limited financial assistance for certain undocumented individuals who cannot benefit from the Federal stimulus relief. This state program aims to begin in May. At present time, the start date has not yet been announced and there is no application process available yet. We will keep you updated of new developments on this website.

FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE

Are there any programs available to help me and my family financially?

The State of California has announced the Disaster Relief Fund, which will support undocumented Californians impacted by COVID-19 who are ineligible for unemployment insurance benefits and disaster relief, including the CARES Act, due to their immigration status. For details, visit our news article.

▪ The Department of Public Social Services provides a number of services. Contact them here: yourbenefits.laclrs.org/ybn/Index.html. If you don’t qualify for benefits due to your immigration status, other people in your home might. USCIS will not consider benefits received by household members in the public charge test.

Free food is also available at pantries throughout Los Angeles County: lafoodbank.org/find-food/pantry-locator/. Many school districts also offer free meals for students. Check with your school district office.

I lost my job, or my hours are cut.  What can I do?

▪ If you have a work permit, you may apply online for Unemployment Insurance with the California Employment Development Department (EDD): edd.ca.gov/about_edd/coronavirus-2019.htm

▪ While undocumented immigrants cannot receive Unemployment Insurance, they may be eligible for Disability Insurance or Paid Family Leave. File with EDD: edd.ca.gov/about_edd/coronavirus-2019.htm

▪ The L.A. County Business & Worker Disaster Help Center provides tools and direct support to access emergency resources. Call 800-593-8222, email your question to DisasterHelpCenter@lacounty.gov, or visit lacountyhelpcenter.org.

What financial resources are available for immigrants who cannot receive stimulus?

Depending on an individual’s situation, there may be other financial resources available from local government, private foundations, industry or trade organizations.  Please note that these resources are limited and not every person who needs assistance will qualify.  You may call OIA for additional information.

Are there loans available for undocumented people?

At the present time, we are not aware of any government-sponsored loan program available for undocumented immigrants.  However, undocumented immigrants may access financial products such as personal loans through local credit unions.  OIA strongly discourages anyone from accessing payday loans and other financial products that tend to have extremely high interest rates.  We will keep you updated on this website with additional financial assistance as they become available.  You may also call OIA for additional details.

Individuals with only ITIN: Can they apply for Unemployment benefits, Disability Insurance or Paid Family Leave?

Unemployment Insurance (UI) is available for persons who are authorized to work in the U.S. and meet other requirements for UI eligibility.  More eligibility information is available here: https://www.edd.ca.gov/unemployment/faq_-_eligibility.htm

All workers, including undocumented immigrants with only ITIN, may be eligible for Disability Insurance and/or Paid Family Leave if they paid into the system and meet eligibility requirements.  Individuals who received cash payments without paying into the system (informal, “under the table” employment) are unfortunately not eligible for Disability Insurance or Paid Family Leave.

More information about Disability Insurance eligibility is available here: https://www.edd.ca.gov/disability/am_i_eligible_for_di_benefits.htm

More information about Paid Family Leave is available here: https://www.edd.ca.gov/disability/Am_I_Eligible_for_PFL_Benefits.htm

Are DACA recipients and persons with TPS eligible for Unemployment benefits, Disability Insurance or Paid Family Leave?

Yes, DACA and TPS beneficiaries are employment-authorized, therefore they are eligible for Unemployment Insurance.  Like all persons who pay into the system, they are also eligibility for Disability Insurance and Paid Family Leave.

Are Independent Contractors eligible to apply for Unemployment benefits, Disability Insurance or Paid Family Leave?  Are self-employed individuals eligible to apply too?

Yes, the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance under the CARES Act made independent contractors and self-employed individuals eligible for Unemployment Insurance for up to 39 weeks of payments.  Please apply through the California EDD website.

Will I be considered a “Public Charge” if I apply for and receive Unemployment Insurance, Disability Insurance, or Paid Family Leave?

No. Unemployment, disability insurance, and paid family leave are considered earned benefits that do not count toward the “public charge” determination. Not all immigrants are subject to a public charge determination. For more information, see our public charge section.

HOUSING & EVICTION

My landlord is trying to evict me because I can’t pay the rent. What should I do?

▪ Los Angeles County passed a temporary ban on all residential and commercial evictions, effective March 4 to May 31, 2020, for the unincorporated areas of the County. The City of Los Angeles and other cities have passed similar measures. These protections apply to all tenants, regardless of their immigration status. Contact DCBA for help: (800) 593-8222, dcba.lacounty.gov.

Is there any financial help paying for my rent / mortgage?

The County is developing a new Rental Assistance Program to provide rent payments for eligible renters.  The County is currently working on the implementation of this program.  More details will come in the near future.  We will keep you updated of any new development on this website.

Many major banks including Bank of America, Citi Bank, US Bank, Chase, and Wells Fargo are offering mortgage forbearance assistance to clients who are experiencing difficulty to make mortgage payments due to COVID-19 impacts.  Please reach out to your bank for individual program requirements.

CONSUMER PROTECTION

Is it true that there is a cure for coronavirus?

▪ There is currently no cure or vaccine for coronavirus. Many scammers are taking advantage of the pandemic to prey on consumers. Report suspected scams to the Department of Consumer and Business Affairs (DCBA): 800-593-8222, dcba.lacounty.gov.

Sellers are charging high prices for things like hand sanitizer and medical supplies. Is this legal?

▪ It is illegal for sellers to raise prices for basic necessities by more than 10% after authorities declare an emergency. All consumers, including undocumented immigrants, are protected against price gouging. Report violations to DCBA: 800-593-8222, dcba.lacounty.gov.

Download a print version of these Frequently Asked Questions:
Small image of our FAQs in English. Small text, not meant to be read on this image.
English (pdf)
Spanish (pdf)
Korean (pdf)
Chinese (pdf)
Tagalog (pdf)
Khmer (pdf)

SMALL BUSINESS

I only have an ITIN. Can I qualify for a loan for my business?

Unfortunately, various business loan products administered by the U.S. Small Business Administration under the CARES Act are not available to business owners who do not have valid Social Security numbers.  State and local governments may have additional business loan products available in the future.  We will keep you updated on this website as details become available. You may also visit the L.A. County Disaster Help Center at www.lacountyhelpcenter.org.

HEALTHCARE

Does my health insurance include COVID-19 services?

Several major health insurers, including those who provide individual and family coverage and who are approved to provide care to Medicare enrollees, have agreed to waive copays for COVID-19 testing (but not treatment, if you need it). This includes Anthem, Aetna, Cigna, EmblemHealth, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Oscar and United Healthcare.

Health insurance plans will cover treatment for COVID-19, but they won’t necessarily waive copays or cost sharing for treatment, should you need it. This means you may still be on the hook to pay your plan’s deductible if you get ill. California has enacted several measures to healthcare coverage in response to COVID-19, including:

  • Requires insurers to allow members to refill prescription medication earlier than earlier allowed, to assure stable supply. This includes expanding 30-day prescriptions to a 90-day supply.
  • Requires insurers to cover off-formulary drugs if the on-formulary drug is not available.
  • Requires insurers to waive cost-sharing for services delivered via telehealth
  • Requests insurers waive prior authorization limits when directly related to COVID-19 services.
  • Opened a special enrollment period for Covered California through June 30, 2020

I lost my job and need healthcare, what can I do?

If you lose your job and it provided your health insurance, you can keep your coverage for up to 18 months if you pay for it yourself (which typically makes the cost significantly higher). Your former employer must send you a COBRA letter within the 14 days after you stop working. You have 60 days to say yes or no (and you can change your mind if you originally decided no, as long it’s within the 60-day window). For more information, talk to your employer or human resources office, visit the Department of Labor online or call 866-444-3272.

You may also be eligible for Medi-Cal, a free or low-cost healthcare coverage for low-income individuals and families. To learn more, visit the Medi-Cal website.

What if my employer does not provide health insurance?

If your employer doesn’t provide health insurance, or if you’ve lost your job, you may be able to purchase a plan through Covered California. While open enrollment is typically in the fall, at this time, there is a special enrollment period for Covered California through June 30, 2020.

To find free or low-cost clinics, search online at the Health Resources & Services Administration’s Find a Health Center website, call 877-464-4772 or email CallCenter@hrsa.gov. 

UTILITY SERVICES & TELECOMMUNICATIONS

I am struggling to pay my utility bill due to the COVID-19 crisis, what can I do?

Utility companies across California are suspending service disconnections and waiving late fees for customers struggling to pay their electricity bills. Many in Los Angeles County have imposed a moratorium on utility terminations. Check this list here to see if your utility provider has agreed to suspend service shutoffs or otherwise taken measures to address economic hardship related to the coronavirus pandemic. You can also all your local utility company and ask for a flexible payment plan if you’re struggling to pay—they may grant your request during the next few weeks or months.

Call the number on your utility bill to discuss options if you are having difficulty paying, or you need service restored.

Can I suspend my phone/internet payments during the state of emergency?

AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon have signed on to the Federal Communications Commission’s Keep Americans Connected Pledge. Under this agreement, carriers have committed to take the follow action for at least the next 60 days:

  • Not terminate service to any residential or small business customers because of their inability to pay their bills due to the disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic;
  • Waive any late fees that any residential or small business customers incur because of their economic circumstances related to the coronavirus pandemic; and
  • Open its Wi-Fi hotspots to any American who needs them.

If you are in a financial situation that prevents you from paying your phone/internet bill, you should call your service provider to discuss your options. However, these options do not mean you are not being charged for services during this time so if you are in a position to continue making your payments, it is highly advisable to do so.

TAX DEADLINES

When do I have to file my taxes?

The federal government announced that taxpayers and businesses will be given an extra 90 days to file and pay their 2019 federal tax returns, interest- and penalty-free, making the new deadline July 15. However, if you are due a refund, you should file your taxes as soon as possible.

If you’ve already filed your taxes and have granted the IRS permission to take your tax payment from your bank account via electronic withdrawal before the new July 15 deadline, you can cancel your scheduled payment and set up a new payment for a future date.

California has delayed the tax deadline for residents and business until June 15.

Although property taxes are collected by the County, the deadline is set by the state. The property tax deadline for Los Angeles County residents remains unchanged from April 10. However, the County’s Treasurer & Tax Collector’s office is accepting requests to cancel penalties for late property tax payments.

If you need help with your taxes, the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program offers free tax help to people who generally make $56,000 or less, persons with disabilities and limited-English-speaking taxpayers who need assistance in preparing their own tax returns. Find a tax preparer in your area on the IRS website.

FOR PROPERTY OWNERS

When are property taxes due?

Although property taxes are collected by the County, the deadline is set by the state. The property tax deadline for Los Angeles County residents remains unchanged from April 10. However, the County’s Treasurer & Tax Collector’s office is accepting requests to cancel penalties for late property tax payments.

CREDIT SCORES AND REPAIR

I can’t pay my credit card off right now, what can I do?

Bank of America, Chase, Citibank and others are responding to the needs of their customers struggling to make payments due to the coronavirus by waiving late fees, providing payment relief and offering other assistance.

Goldman Sachs, the financial institution backing the Apple credit card, announced it will allow cardholders who ask for help to skip their March payment, interest-free. American Express (credit cards) and Capital One (credit cards and auto loans) will also allow customers to skip their monthly payments, interest-free.

If you have a problem paying your credit card bill or loan payment, call your loan servicer and see if they will waive your monthly payment temporarily, without a late fee, and interest-free, in light of the current national crisis.

 

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