CIANA Explains: The Excluded Workers Fund



Immigrants in New York City have experienced some of the most devastating impacts from the job cuts brought on by the coronavirus pandemic. However, despite being more likely than native-born Americans to hold jobs in service industries, these communities have been the most excluded from government financial assistance.


Specifically, undocumented workers who lost income due to the pandemic did not qualify for unemployment benefits or stimulus checks due to citizenship status requirements. In response to this problem, New York Lawmakers have introduced a new fund called the Excluded Workers Fund (EWF).


The Excluded Workers Fund is designed especially for undocumented immigrants who lost their jobs and/or income in the midst of the pandemic, and also did not qualify for federal unemployment benefits. The fund provides workers who qualify with a payment of up to $15,600. Application forms for the EWF do not include any questions about immigration or citizenship status.


How Do I Apply?

The application for the fund is now open, and can be found at ewf.labor.ny.gov. The application is available in 13 different languages, including ​​Spanish, Arabic, Bangla, and Mandarin. applicants are strongly encouraged to apply online as applications will not be accepted by mail.


New York State has also partnered with several nonprofit organizations, supporting them with EWF grants so they can provide direct application assistance to community members. For a list of community partners who can help you enroll, visit dol.ny.gov/CBOlist.


CIANA is also proud to have received an EWF grant from the Consortium for Worker Education, (CWE) and can help assist you with your application for the EWF. Reach out to us at (718) 545-4040 or info@cianainc.org for more information or if you have questions.


What are the Eligibility Requirements?

In order to be eligible, applicants must meet three criteria:

  • New York State residency

  • An inability to obtain unemployment benefits

  • Income loss during the time of the pandemic


Applicants prove their eligibility for the fund by providing different types of documents, listed below.


Eligibility Breakdown

The amount of money you receive from the fund depends on what types of documents you submit. There are two levels of payments you can be eligible for: Tier 1 payment, and Tier 2 payment.


Tier 1 payment is $15,600 per applicant, and has stricter documentation requirements.


Tier 2 payment is $3,200 per application, and has more flexible documentation requirements. Applicants can qualify for Tier 2 without submitting any tax returns or government documents. The different Tier 2 requirements are meant to help workers who often get paid in cash, such as undocumented workers, and cannot easily prove their income on paper.


Documentation Examples Some examples of documentation required to qualify for the Tier 1 amount are tax returns, six weeks of pay stubs, six weeks of wage statements, an IRS W-2 form listing income, or an official letter from an employer verifying employment dates and a loss of income. If the applicant was laid off, they can obtain this letter from their former employer. If the applicant is self-employed, a letter written by the applicant themselves is also acceptable.


Examples of documentation required to qualify for the Tier 2 amount are records of direct deposits from an employer, a copy of your employee ID card, a record of cashing paychecks, receipts showing a pattern of commuting to and from work, or work invoices. All income related documents must be dated within the time of the pandemic.


To prove identification and residency, applicants for Tier 1 and Tier 2 can provide a passport, NYS Drivers License, IDNYC card, utility bills, bank statements, and/or pay stubs containing a home address. IDNYC cards are an ideal option for undocumented immigrants because they are free and do not have any immigration or citizenship requirements.


After Submission

The New York State Department of Labor estimates that it will take around six to eight weeks to process an application. Applicants who are denied have the right to appeal.


Approved applicants will receive a one-time payment on a Visa prepaid card that will be mailed to the address provided on their application. The program will be discontinued once all the funds have been used up.


The Excluded Workers Fund is a great option for members of our immigrant and undocumented community to obtain the financial assistance they deserve. Apply now at ewf.labor.ny.gov!


If you have any additional questions about the Excluded Workers Fund, the application, or whether or not you may qualify, please don’t hesitate to reach out to CIANA at (718) 545-4040 or info@cianainc.org.



Additional Links and Information

Excluded Workers Fund FAQs

The Excluded Workers Fund: What You Need to Know

Determine Your Eligibility: Excluded Workers Fund

Application Period Opens for Excluded Workers Fund, Undocumented New Yorkers Who Lost Jobs Are Advised to Apply

IDNYC Card Information