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Those who live in but were not born in the United States have somewhat different rights than those who were born in the U.S. and reside here. There is a lot of confusion about the differences between the rights of immigrants and natural-born citizens.

People often pass along misinformation as though it were fact, leaving others unsure of their rights and confused about where to look for more accurate information. It is common for people to assume that non-citizens, especially undocumented immigrants, won’t qualify for workers’ compensation benefits in Missouri.

For those who work in order to support their families, workers’ compensation is a critical safety net that protects them from financial hardship if they get hurt on the job. Does immigration status or citizenship impact a worker’s rights to these benefits?

Employment status, not immigration status, is what matters

The whole reason for workers’ compensation benefits is to protect those who work for a living regardless of the job they perform or other personal factors, such as their nation of origin or immigration status. Your employer typically has to cover you if they hire you, and they cannot deny your benefits and should not attempt to retaliate against you for trying to seek the benefits you need.

Important steps for immigrants who get hurt on the job

It is possible that your employer may try to trick you or otherwise manipulate the situation to their benefit, especially if they have a history of knowingly hiring undocumented workers. They may do so because they think they can get away with violating their employees’ rights.

Report a job injury as soon as it happens, and ask for a copy of the incident report so that you can prove you took the appropriate and necessary steps in the event that your employer tries to challenge your claim for benefits. Get help if you need it while filing for workers’ compensation benefits, and be sure to keep a detailed record of everything you recall from the incident, independent of your employer’s records.

A written or videotaped statement about what happened and when, as well as the witnesses who saw what happened and the management members you reported it to will help validate your claim if your employer later tries to deny it. Knowing your rights and having someone advocating for you can make it easier to stand up for yourself after a workplace injury, especially if your immigration status leaves you feeling vulnerable.