By Stefanie Trice Gill

More than 400 workers lost their jobs at Abbott Industries this summer, many of them immigrants. 

Unemployment insurance benefits provide temporary, partial-wage replacement while searching for other work. Below are answers to the most common questions about unemployment benefits. 

Will applying for unemployment hurt my immigration status?  

Local immigration attorney Felix Hagenimana confirmed to Amjambo Africa that applying for unemployment has no negative effect on one’s ability to obtain asylum, a green card, or citizenship. The U.S. government doesn’t consider unemployment pay to be welfare, but as insurance to help people, including asylum seekers, who lose their jobs.  

When should I apply for unemployment benefits? 

As soon as you lose your job, apply for unemployment benefits. If you are still on payroll, your  unemployment claim will be denied; wait until the end of any severance you’re receiving. 

What must I do to get unemployment benefits? 

In order to receive unemployment payments, someone who has lost a job must apply and meet the eligibility criteria. 

  1. Go to and click on “File a Claim” to start the process. For help from an interpreter, call (800) 593-7660 and request a specific language. 
  1. Anyone receiving unemployment must file a “Weekly Claim” in every week of unemployment. Go to and click on “File a Weekly Claim.” For help from an interpreter or for anyone lacking internet access, call (800) 593-7660 to file a claim. 

Be prepared to answer several questions every week. All of these must be answered truthfully.  

● Are you physically able to work? 

● Are you available to work? 

● Did you apply for at least one job this week? 

Important: If the answer is not “Yes” to all three of these questions each week, you may not qualify for unemployment benefits.  

Another question will be:  

● Did you refuse any work during the week? 

Anyone who refuses a suitable work offer risks no longer qualifying for unemployment benefits. 

  1. Another requirement for receiving unemployment benefits is to create a profile on Maine JobLink, Maine’s official website for unemployed workers. Users also may apply for jobs through the site.  

For help with a job search or with unemployment benefits, those who live in York, Cumberland, Sagadahoc, Lincoln, Knox, and Waldo counties may visit Workforce Solutions Maine, 190 Lancaster St., Portland. In Lewiston, call Community Concepts, (800) 866-5588. 

Unemployed workers also may qualify for Emergency Rental Assistance. To learn more, contact MaineHousing, 26 Edison Dr., Augusta; (207) 626-4600 or toll-free (800) 452-4668, or ProsperityME,  (207) 797-7890. 

Individuals with professional-level skills can also see to apply for jobs or register for help getting back into a career. 

Maine has many supportive organizations and state agencies that can help.  No one needs to face unemployment alone.