COVID-19 Updates and Information

LAST UPDATED: May 18, 2020

MIRC's offices are closed to the public due to the COVID-19 (“coronavirus”) pandemic. However, our staff are still working hard to serve our existing clients and Michigan's immigrant communities. You can call us at (734) 239-6863 between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. with questions or to discuss your case. Immigrant workers with questions about employment issues can call our farmworker and immigrant worker rights hotline at 1-800-968-4046.

The following information is aimed at helping Michigan’s immigrant communities navigate information and resources in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. We encourage our immigrant communities to view the state of Michigan’s coronavirus webpage for the most up-to-date information on state efforts. Non-English state resources can be found here. Click here for resources in indigenous languages, and here and here for multilingual fact sheets and infographics. Please visit Michigan Legal Help for Michigan specific legal updates in real time (en español).

Michigan Stay Home, Stay Safe Order

Under Executive Order 2020-100, until June 12, 2020, all Michigan businesses and operations that are not critical and essential to protecting the health and safety of the community must suspend in-person operations. More information about employee rights under the order are available here. All Michiganders must stay in their homes unless they’re working in critical infrastructure, appropriately designated by their employer as essential, are exercising outdoors, or doing necessary errands for themselves or others, like going to the hospital or grocery store. If you are deemed an essential worker by your employer or work in critical infrastructure, you may wish to carry this letter to help explain your travel (see FAQs in English and Spanish for more info). You should maintain a distance of at least six feet from all others in public in all situations. 

Information and Resources

Guides top

The following guides provide information about accessing resources in addition to the information listed below. 

  • Mutual Aid
    Map for finding the mutual aid network in your community.

Unemployment Assistance top

Most non-citizens with valid employment authorization or social security number are eligible for expanded unemployment benefits under the new federal stimulus. If you are undocumented or only have an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (“ITIN”), you are not eligible for unemployment insurance. If you are unsure about your immigration status and whether you qualify for unemployment insurance, please contact our employment hotline at 800-968-4046Receiving unemployment benefits does NOT create any risk of negative immigration consequences, regardless of the new “public charge” rule. See USCIS information on this here. Filing for unemployment insurance with a social security number that is not yours is considered fraud or identity theft and can have serious civil and criminal consequences.

MIRC’s FAQ on Noncitizen Eligibility for Michigan Unemployment Insurance is available in English and Spanish. Up to date information from the State of Michigan regarding unemployment insurance can be found here. The state has compiled a helpful fact sheet that will walk you through how to file a claim. It is also available in Spanish and Arabic here. The Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity (“LEO”) also released this FAQ regarding unemployment benefits.

Protecting Workers top

While Governor Whitmer’s executive order to stay home has been implemented, Michigan is allowing “essential components of the Michigan food and agricultural sector” to continue operating. This includes: meat and food packaging facilities, field work, dairy and poultry farms, greenhouses, related transportation and delivery services. Under Executive Order 2020-36 Employers are prohibited from discharging, disciplining, or otherwise retaliating against an employee for staying home from work if they or one of their close contacts tests positive for COVID-19 or has symptoms of the disease.

Even if you are an essential worker, Michigan’s workplace safety laws still require that your employer ensures there are no health or safety hazards. Under Executive Order 2020-42 Employers are required to develop a COVID-19 preparedness and response plan according to OSHA Guidelines. For information on the health and safety rights of farmworkers during the COVID-19, see our Know-Your-Rights flyer in English and Spanish. Workers concerned with the health and safety of their workplace may submit a complaint to the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration(“MIOSHA”). Making a complaint via MIOSHA is confidential and you can make the complaint in any language. You can either contact them by phone at 800-866-4674 or via their online form. Additional worker rights resources be found at the National Employment Law Project and The Sugar Law Center

Small Businesses top

Small businesses can apply for the Michigan Small Business Relief Program, which is providing up to $20 million in grants and loans. The U.S. Economic Injury Disaster Loan application can be found online. Click here for help filing it out. More resources for small businesses can be found through Michigan’s Small Business Development Center. Contact Global Detroit for more information about the Paycheck Protection Program and additional resources for small businesses. 

Recovery Rebate Check top

The federal government is providing a one-time, automatic payment to some people affected by COVID-19. You do not have to apply to receive the rebate check if you filed taxes in 2018 or 2019. The amount you will receive depends on your family size. In general, to be eligible, you must have filed 2019 (or 2018) federal tax returns, have a social security number, and either have a US citizenship or residency (as a Legal or Conditional Permanent Resident) or meet the Internal Revenue Service residency requirements. Unfortunately, individuals filing with an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (“ITIN”) for anyone in the family will not qualify for the rebate check. The rebate check does not have negative “public charge” consequences. It is considered a tax credit. 

Remember, even when “public charge” does apply, it only applies to a small group of people. Please click herefor more information on public charge. We have compiled the recovery rebate check frequently asked questions, available in English and Spanish.

Beware of Scams top

Scammers are profiting from fears associated with COVID-19. These scams are typically in the form of robocalls or emails. To avoid scams:

  • Hang up on all robocalls. Don’t press any numbers. 
  • Do not open attachments or click links from email addresses you do not recognize. 
  • Do not open emails from individuals or the government about vaccines or home test kits. Instead, check the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website for verified COVID-19 updates. 

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs Border Patrol (CBP) top

Intensive Supervision Appearance Program (ISAP “supervision”) appointments are being conducted by phone. Contact the deportation officer for questions: (313) 568-6049. Non-professional visitors are not allowed in detention facilities right now. Video calls may be available in the Calhoun and St. Clair county jails. Please review any change in policy about immigration enforcement and other ICE COVID-19 updates here. Additionally, CBP is limiting the travel of individuals from Mexico and Canada into the United States at land ports of entry to “essential travel.” The restrictions have been in place since March 20 and will continue until at least April 20, 2020. 

Immigration Court - Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) top

The Detroit Immigration Court postponed all non-detained hearings through June 12, 2020. Respondents or their representatives will receive notice f their new hearing date at least 10 days beforehand. You can check the case information system online or over the phone at 1-800-898-7180 to review the status of your case. Please note that all detained hearings are moving forward at this time. For as long as the State of Michigan continues to operate under a state of emergency, any attorney-at-law for any party may appear telephonically in all detained cases within the jurisdiction of the Detroit Immigration Court so long as it is arranged with the immigration court staff. Please check the EOIR website for the latest information on a specific court’s closure and document filing instructions. 

United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) top

United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has suspended its in-person services at its field offices, asylum offices, and Application Support Centers. USCIS is preparing offices to re-open in compliance with local and state orders, on or after June 4. USCIS will also send notices by mail with instructions to applicants and petitioners impacted by the closure. While USCIS Asylum offices and ASC appointments will be automatically rescheduled, those who had InfoPass or other appointments must reschedule through the USCIS Contact Center once field offices are open to the public again. Please call the USCIS Contact Center for assistance with emergency immigration-related services. USCIS will continue to accept and process applications, like for employment authorization and naturalization. For more information, click here.

Extension of Status for Tourists top

Individuals who are in the United States may be able to apply to extend their stay due to extenuating circumstances. If you are in the United States on a B1/B2 tourist visa or under the Visa Waiver Program, please read through this document. All other individuals with non-immigrant visas who have questions about how to extend their status should call 734-239-6863.

Taxes top

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) extended the filing deadline for federal tax returns from April 15 to July 15, 2020 without interest or penalties. This extended deadline applies to all filers, including individuals and corporations. It is automatic and taxpayers do not need to file additional forms or call the IRS to qualify. Governor Whitmer’s Executive Order 2020-26 also extended the tax filing deadline for all state and city income until July 2020 (July 15 for returns that were due on April 15; July 31 for returns that were due on April 30). For more information about safely accessing tax help and filing electronically please visit Michigan Legal Help or the Accounting Aid Society.

Driver’s Licenses top

The Department of Homeland Security has pushed back the enforcement deadline of a REAL-ID compliant driver's license from October 1, 2020, to October 1, 2021.

Governor Whitmer’s Executive Order 2020-47 temporarily extended all valid driver’s licenses, state identification cards and commercial vehicle registrations that would have otherwise expired during the state of emergency. Individuals must, to the best of their ability, complete a vehicle registration or license renewal online at www.michigan.gov/sos/ during the declared states of emergency and disaster. All driver's licenses and state personal identification cards that expired or set to expire between February 1, 2020 and May 31, 2020 are now valid until June 30, 2020. All commercial vehicle registrations as well any operator or chauffeur’s license with a Group A, Group B, or Group C designation that expired on or after March 1, 2020 will now expire on June 30. Motorists with suspended or revoked driver’s licenses are not granted this extension.

The Secretary of State in Michigan has developed a Frequently Asked Questions document regarding their services during the coronavirus outbreak available here

Cash Assistance top

Below are various initiatives across the state of Michigan offering financial assistance to individuals, many explicitly serving immigrant communities. Please visit each page to learn more about how to apply to access these funds. If you would like to contribute to the United Farm Workers fundraiser, you can do so here

Southeast Michigan

Southwest/ Western Michigan

Access to Food top

Food banks and pantries are still in operation. To learn more about how to find food either via food pantries, vouchers, emergency food programs, etc. dial 2-1-1, text your zip code to 898211, or visit the 211 website. Before visiting any food pantry, you should contact the pantry to learn about COVID-related changes. If you are a qualifying senior and cannot leave your home, look up your local Meals on Wheels program here. For more information, you can go to Food Gatherers, FoodPantries.org, Food Bank of Eastern Michigan, Feeding America West Michigan, or Zaman.

The City of Detroit is now offering daily meals for children and seniors.

All families with children under 18 (or under 26 if enrolled in special education programming), not just those eligible for Free or Reduced-price meals, can pick up school meals. Please visit the Michigan Department of Education website for school meal sites across Michigan or contact Michigan Department of Education at 517-241-5374 or mde-sfsp@michigan.gov

An extensive list of places with free lunch for Michigan K-12 students can be found here. You can also find locations for free breakfast and lunch on the Meet Up and Eat Up Locator Map.

All Michigan households eligible for Food Assistance Program benefits will now get more benefits. Eligible households should have received these additional food assistance benefits on their Bridge Card by March 30. From April 1st, the work requirement for the Food Assistance Program has been suspended: you can qualify regardless of whether you’re working 80 hours a month. You can check the balance on your Bridge Card online or by calling 888-678-8914. Arabic and Spanish speakers are available. Any person who is deaf, speech-impaired, deafblind or hard of hearing can call the Michigan Relay Center at 7-1-1.

University of Michigan students can get free food and toiletries at the Maize & Blue Cupboard.

The Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer Program (P-EBT) food assistance benefits will go to Michigan families with students ages 0-26 that are eligible for Free or Reduced-Price School Meals. This includes families currently receiving Food Assistance Program benefits, as well as those not currently enrolled in the program. No application is necessary for eligible families to receive P-EBT benefits. There is no citizenship or immigration status requirement for Pandemic EBT. There is no “public charge” consequence to receiving Pandemic EBT.

Medical and Health Access top

When to Seek Medical Attention: If you develop emergency warning signs for COVID-19 get medical attention immediately. Emergency warning signs include*:

  • Trouble breathing
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • New confusion or inability to arouse
  • Bluish lips or face

*This list is not all inclusive. Please consult your medical provider for any other symptoms that are severe or concerning.

Call 911 if you have a medical emergency. Notify the operator that you have or think you might have, COVID-19. If possible, put on a cloth face covering that covers your nose and mouth to protect other people.

Regardless of immigration status, you can still get health care. This includes emergency room care through Emergency Services Only (ESO) Medicaid, federally qualified community health centers (which treat everyone, regardless of immigration status: you can find one here), migrant health centers, free clinics (which you can find here), and public hospitals. Examples of locations include the places listed below. Please note that these places are not accepting new patients (but that can change) and all of these places can provide prescriptions for COVID-19 testing. 

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services announced that Emergency Services Only Medicaid will cover COVID-19 diagnostic testing and treatment effective for dates of service on or after March 10, 2020. USCIS will not consider testing or treatment in any public-charge determinations for immigrants applying for a green card.

The City of Detroit and the Coronavirus Community Care Network want to ensure that all residents have access to COVID-19 testing. If you do not have a doctor, please see this list of medical clinics that may be accepting new patients (both insured and uninsured). If you are undocumented and looking for healthcare in Detroit, this is an updated list of federally qualified community health centers in Detroit that are accepting new patients and providing prescriptions for testing.

You may qualify for COVID-19 testing through public health county offices at no charge. Testing may be limited, however, so make sure to call ahead. Some testing sites are asking for identification; acceptable ID can include a passport, school ID, or utility bill with your name on it. If you qualify for testing but you are turned away for issues related to identification, please contact us at 734-239-6863. Testing or treatment for COVID-19—as with all communicable diseases—does not affect your public charge determination. More information about healthcare access and free testing is available from the National Immigration Law Center.

As always, healthcare providers may not discriminate on the basis of disability, as well as race, national origin, age, gender, or religion. People with disabilities may not be denied care based on stereotypes or assessments of their relative “worth.” If you or someone you know has been discriminated against, contact the U.S. Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights

Mental Health Resources top

COVID-19 and its prevention efforts can be stressful and isolating for many. For information about how to recognize stress and learn about ways to support yourself and loved ones, click here (en español). If you are struggling, please reach out to the following resources:

Victims and Witnesses of Crime top

If you do not feel safe in your home, seek help and call 911. You can also call the National Domestic Violence Hotline (en español) at 1-800-799-7233 (or 1-800-799-7233 for TTY, or if you are unable to speak safely, you can text LOVEIS to 22522). The YWCA of Kalamazoo maintains a 24-hour Domestic Violence Hotline: 269-385-3587, as well as a 24- hour Sexual Assault Hotline: 269-385-3587. If you need assistance with filing a Personal Protection Order, ask to speak with a Legal Advocate. Emergency shelter services provided by the YWCA and Safe Haven Ministries across Michigan remain uninterrupted. YWCA and Safe Haven Ministries have 24/7 hotlines that survivors can call to request information. Virtual support groups and counseling services by either agency are also taking place. YWCA and Safe Haven Ministries have a lot of capacity and are still providing full services such as move-ins to shelters, crisis counseling, and assessments. DV agencies have capacity to meet these needs, are fully staffed, taking preventative measures, and are prepared to respond in the event of exposure. To find a shelter or hotline near you, search here. For updated information on what services are being provided by a shelter, please contact the shelter or consult the shelter’s website. 

Courts in Michigan remain open for emergency cases and essential functions including requests for new, or extension of existing Personal Protection Orders. Please see MichiganLegalHelp for updates on court procedures for all types of civil cases. 

Law Enforcement across Michigan continue to respond to calls reporting domestic violence, and will still be arresting criminals who commit high misdemeanors such as sex crimes or domestic violence and felonies.

State Courts top

Trial courts have limited their activity to essential functions and expanded remote hearings. This procedure is in effect through April 3. Courts are handling essential functions only as described in Administrative Order 2020-2.

Housing: Moratorium on Evictions and Utility Shutoffs top

Executive Order 2020-54 prohibits evictions through at least May 15, 2020, except for tenants who pose a danger to another person or a severe risk to property. Eviction cases will be suspended until at least May 15, unless they can be conducted using remote technology.

Evictions are banned statewide through May 15th. You should still pay your rent if you are able to.

Also, under the federal CARES Act, tenants living in housing that has federal financial assistance cannot be served with eviction notices or charged any late fees until July 25, 2020. This includes any HUD, USDA Rural Development, or Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) rental housing, as well as any housing with a “federally backed” mortgage (FHA, VA, RD, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac). After July 25, a landlord with a federally involved property must give the tenant a 30-day notice before evicting a tenant. This means that no person may be evicted for nonpayment of rent from a CARES Act-covered property until August 24, 2020.

These moratoriums do not release you from any obligation under your lease. This means you still owe your landlord any rent that becomes due during the time of the eviction suspension period.

See this “Can I be Evicted During COVID-19” flowchart by Legal Services of South Central Michigan for more information. If you believe that you are being unlawfully evicted from your home or have questions about how COVID-19 impacts evictions, foreclosures or rent in the state of Michigan, consult these resources compiled by Michigan Legal Help.


Executive Order 2020-28 orders any local government water supplier to restore water service where water was shut off for non-payment. For other utilities such as electric and natural gas service, unlike some states, Michigan has not issued a moratorium on utility shutoffs. Some utility providers in Michigan have instituted special shut-off protections for low-income or vulnerable households (see DTE, Consumers Energy). You should reach out to your utility provider for more information. A list of all Michigan utility providers can be found online, or you can contact the Michigan Public Service Commission at 800-292-9555.

Michigan Public School  top

School is out for the rest of the 2019- 2020 school year. For daily updates on Michigan high schools, click here.

  • Elementary School: The Michigan Education Association has at-home resources for elementary students and parents.
  • High School: Advance Placement (AP) exams will be administered online. AP Program updates and free, live AP review lessons can be found here. Michigan College Access Network has a website of resources, ranging from coronavirus fact sheets to college admission status updates.
  • Students with Exceptional Learning Needs: Detroit Public Schools has a list of free learning opportunities—as well as contact information—for students with disabilities and exceptional student education (ESE) students here.

General Education Resources

Internet: This website provides free/low-cost internet options.

Learning Tools: Michigan Virtual is a nonprofit that offers seventy K-12 courses for free to educators and parents. Crash Course offers videos on many subjects, from world history to astronomy. Additional free online education resources can be found here

Child Care: If you’re a healthcare worker, first responder, or other designated essential worker, your employer may be operating a childcare center during the outbreak. You can also fill out this form to get connected to a local childcare provider.