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FAQ: Are foreigners eligible for workersʼ compensation?

If you get injured on the job, you may assume that you’re covered under workers’ compensation laws. After all, American workers have certain rights and most workplace injuries should result in some type of compensation to make up for lost wages, to cover medical bills and things of this nature. This is how companies protect workers who put their health on the line for the company.

Here’s the catch: You’re not from the United States. Do you still have the same eligibility for workers’ comp as a native-born worker?

Do immigrant workers still qualify for workers’ comp?

If you’re in the U.S. on a work visa, you are still a legal employee who has the same rights as any other employee. It does not matter where you were born. You don’t have to become a citizen. You can still get workers’ comp, and you still have the same rights as other employees because you too are a worker in the U.S. Do not let anyone tell you that you can’t qualify or that you have to cover all the costs on your own.

What about undocumented workers?

You may be wondering what happens in the case of undocumented workers. While there are exceptions, such as Wyoming, it is generally true that even undocumented workers are entitled to workers’ comp. After all, companies are supposed to vet their employees to make sure they can legally hire them. If they hire them, the presumption is that it is legal and that the employee will be covered. Something like a paperwork error — you accidentally overstayed your visa by a few days, for instance — will not disqualify you from workers’ comp.

What steps do you need to take?

If you have been injured on the job, you need to immediately get proper medical care. It’s also important to report the injury as soon as possible. Delays can sometimes make the process a bit more complicated and may make it more likely that your employer denies the claim. Make sure you know exactly what steps you need to take moving forward.

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