Can I Collect Unemployment While Living Overseas?

Written by
Amber Hobert
Published on
November 3, 2022
Table of Contents

Unemployment benefit is a government-run program that gives money to people who want to work and are qualified but unemployed. The federal and state governments pay for the program, but the rules vary from state to state. This article will address whether you can claim unemployment compensation while living abroad.

Can Overseas Americans Collect Unemployment?

The simple answer to this is "No!" First and foremost, unemployment benefits are tied to the state where you reside. You can only claim these benefits if you still live in one of the American states.

If you move out of state or abroad, you can no longer get unemployment benefits. However, there are exceptions to this rule. Diplomats and families of military members stationed overseas still qualify for unemployment benefits.

Who Is Eligible For Unemployment Assistance?

The following are eligible for unemployment benefits:

Sacked workers

Depending on the circumstances, a dismissed worker may still be entitled to unemployment benefits. Employees are still eligible for benefits even if they were fired for financial reasons, by mistake, or because they were laid off. On the other hand, in most states, the awarding authority will disqualify a person if an employer fires them for intentional and repeated bad behavior.

Misconduct includes being late or absent often, breaking workplace rules, drinking on the job, sleeping on the job, fraud, serious unprofessional behavior, sexual misconduct, and actions that significantly hurt the company's business. If you are laid off for any of these reasons, you will not be able to get unemployment benefits. Misconduct does not include recklessness, incompetence, or errors done in good faith.

When an employee resigns

Employees who leave their jobs without "good cause" are frequently disqualified for unemployment benefits. In most states, "good cause" means that the employee would have been hurt or hurt someone else if they hadn't quit.

Typical arguments are that the employee's health or life is in danger or that the employee was forced to work intolerably, like being sexually harassed. This is especially true if the employer does nothing to fix the problem.

Other reasons could be that the job was moved to a place much farther away or to another state, that the worker's spouse got a new position in another state, or that the worker had a real personal reason, like taking care of a sick spouse.

Most states make it illegal to quit your job because you want to advance in your career or because you dislike your job. Otherwise, you will be ineligible for unemployment benefits.

Protected employees

In most states, workers who qualify for unemployment insurance must meet the following requirements:

  • Be a US citizen or have the legal right to work in the US. The individual was hired for a specific period; the individual earned a particular amount of wages before becoming unemployed; the individual is immediately available for work and physically able to work.
  • Part-time and contract employees qualify if they meet their state's requirements.

How To Apply For Unemployment Benefits

Submit a claim

When submitting a claim, you'll need to provide supporting documents, including pay stubs, a social security card, and evidence of your jobless status. An unemployed worker must usually wait one week before receiving benefits.

Once the claim is filed, the former employer will receive a notification and have the opportunity to protest in writing.

Determination of eligibility to receive benefits

The eligibility for benefits is decided by analyzing the basis for the job loss. First, after figuring out if the person is eligible, the unemployment office will ask the former employer to confirm why the person was fired.


The worker or the former employee may appeal a government agency's decision. In most states, a worker has one to four weeks to file an appeal if benefits are refused.

If an employer files an appeal, the worker can still get benefits until a new decision is made. If the former company wins, the employee may be obliged to repay the benefits.


A lawyer can represent both sides and give the hearing officer important eyewitnesses and evidence.

Administrative review

Either side may appeal the administrative body's decision. The records produced at the original hearing form the basis for the decision review. The executive agency will usually carry out the decision of the hearing officer.

Appellate court

Both parties are entitled to challenge the administrative agency's judgment in court. The state court will uphold the ruling unless the facts or the law contradict it.

Details To Fill In To Claim Unemployment Benefits?

Former employer

  • The previous employer's information, including firm name, supervisor's name, mailing, physical addresses, and phone number; if you are self-employed, the owner of your business, or an independent contractor, you should put yourself as your last employer.
  • The last date worked and reason for leaving the workforce.
  • The sum of your previous week's gross earnings, commencing on Sunday and up until the last day of work. You will need to report your net income if you are self-employed or a freelancer.

Employment background

  • The names, addresses (mailing and physical), dates of employment, gross income earned, hours worked per week, the hourly rate of pay, and the reason you are no longer employed for each employer you worked for in the previous 18 months.
  • If you are self-employed or a freelancer, you must report your net income (total after taxes).
  • Standard Form 8, Notice to Federal Employees Regarding Unemployment Insurance (former federal employees only).
  • DD 214, Member 4, Duplicate (ex-military only).

Identity document

You will need to provide either:

  • Two primary documents or
  • One primary document and two secondary documents

Primary documents you can submit

  • Driving license (US or foreign)
  • The Certificate of Naturalization is issued by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. US Permanent Resident Card (I-551) Employment Authorization Card (I-766) (Form N-550 or N-570
  • Passbook for the passport (US or foreign)
  • Trusted traveler cards (only if you live outside of the US): Global Entry, NEXUS, and SENTRI cards issued by the Department of Homeland Security are examples of trusted traveler cards (only if you live outside of the US).
  • A veteran's health ID card Federal or state identification
  • Presidential Directive 12 on Homeland Security (HSPD-12)

Secondary documents you can submit

  • Health insurance card
  • Social security card
  • Birth certificate
  • Certificate of Birth Abroad
  • School documents
  • Certification of Report of Birth
  • Consular Report of Birth Abroad
  • Border crossing card
  • Voter registration card
  • Citizen ID card
  • Native American tribal document
  • Tribal-issued photo ID card
  • Canadian Indian and Northern Affairs card
  • Your Discharge from Active Duty or Certificate of Release
  • National Guard Report of Separation and Record of Service
  • Foreign birth document
  • Coast Guard merchant mariner card

Frequently Asked Questions

What do I do to remain eligible for unemployment benefits?

To get weekly unemployment benefits and keep getting them, you must be able to work, actively look for work, be available, and not turn down a good job offer. In short, you must seek a new job and be prepared to accept an offer when one comes your way.

If you cannot work because you must care for family members or are physically unable to get a job, you may be ineligible for benefits. If you are scheduled for a face-to-face meeting or assessment, you must appear at the appointed hour.

If a phone interview is scheduled, be available at the appointed time. Because an unexpected delay could happen, you must be available two hours after your scheduled appointment. If you miss an appointment, your weekly benefit payment may be refused.

Can I claim unemployment insurance during a labor dispute?

If there is a strike, you must still send in your claims by phone or online while authorities figure out whether you are eligible. The labor dispute officer preceding over the Division of Unemployment Insurance makes a decision after getting all the information from your employer and union.

What if I get ill while I am unemployed?

To be eligible for unemployment benefits, you must be physically and mentally able to work. Disability During Unemployment (DDU) payments may be available if you can't work more than 14 days (2 weeks) after your last day of covered employment. This could be because of an illness, accident, pregnancy, or other physical or mental health condition.

You don't have to tell the Division of Unemployment Insurance that you are no longer getting benefits; stop certifying for weekly compensation. As soon as you are no longer eligible for unemployment, you should fill out and apply for Temporary Disability Insurance. You can reopen your unemployment insurance claim if your doctor certifies that you are well and can look for work again.

Consult An Expert If You Are Unsure

Filing unemployment benefits can be complicated sometimes, especially if you are in a situation where it is unclear whether you are eligible. Suppose you think you qualify but are unsure as to how to go about collecting unemployment benefits.

In that case, you can talk to a mailing expert who will not just offer you professional advice but will assist you all the way through the process to get your claim filed and done adequately!

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