COVID-19 Updates and Information

LAST UPDATED: July 16, 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

On June 1, 2020, Governor Whitmer signed Executive Order 2020-110 that declared Michiganders no longer are required to stay at home and lifted certain temporary restrictions on in-person work and activities. A few days later, she signed Executive Order 2020-115 that expanded the types of business, operations, and activities that are permitted. The following business and activities are able to resume functions under specific protocols that limit the risk of contagion: retail stores, libraries, museums, bars, restaurants, public swimming pools, entertainment venues, parks, places of worship, day camps. Personal care services (e.g. nail salons, hair salons, tattoo parlors, etc.) are to re-open on June 15, 2020. Few select activities, such as residential, travel, and troop camps, remain closed. All indoor gatherings cannot exceed 50 people, and all outdoor ones cannot exceed 250 people. The Orders make explicitly clear that individuals ought to maintain at least six feet from all others in public in all situations and don a mask in enclosed public spaces.

On July 10th, 2020, Governor Whitmer signed executive order 2020-147 requiring the use of a face covering in an indoor public space. Businesses that are open to the public must refuse entry and service to individuals who fail to comply, and must post signs at all entrances instructing customers of their legal obligation to wear a face covering while inside. Violators could face a misdemeanor and up to a $500 fine. Those who are exempt from wearing a mask in Michigan businesses included people younger than five years old, those who cannot medically tolerate a face covering, and those who are eating or drinking while seated at a food service establishment.

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 is no longer implemented, Michigan continues to have the state’s coronavirus state of emergency through August 11th. 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.

On June 29th, 2020 Executive Order 2020-137 was announced, ordering migrant camp owners and operators to create a COVID-19 preparedness and response plan for residents, follow the workplace protections in Section 1 of Executive Order 2020-114, as well as ensure residents have access to the Coronavirus hotline in order for residents to make confidential complaints about unsafe conditions in a central location. And should a camp resident test positive for COVID-19, camp owners and operators must arrange for evaluation by a medical provider through the local health department or federally qualified health center, report to the local health department, as well as provide isolation housing unless already in a one-family housing unit or in a family living unit where it is possible to effectively isolate within that unit. This continues to remain in effect through November 1st, 2020. Additional information can be found on our flyer here

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.

Effective June 5th, 2020, Executive Order 2020-0114 offers safeguards to protect Michigan’s workers from COVID-19. Under this executive order, all business that require employees to leave their homes must, at a minimum, develop a COVID-19 preparedness and response plan consistent with OSHA guidelines, establish a response plan for dealing with confirmed infection at the workplace, and designate 1 or more supervisors to implement, monitor, and report on COVID-19 control strategies. There are protections against discrmination; federal and state workplace anti-discrmination laws are still in place and an employer may not withdraw a job offer because someone is in a high-risk category (i.e. 65 or older, or pregnant). For more information on additional safeguards and a list of all industries included under Executive Order 2020-114 please click here

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

Certain immigration courts have resumed non-detained hearings. Hearings in non-detained cases at courts without an announced date are postponed through, and including, July 10, 2020. See below for the latest operational status of courts nationwide. For case specific information, please have the relevant alien registration number and call 800-898-7180 or visit the Automated Case Information portal.

Currently, the Detroit Immigration Court is open for filings and for detained hearings only.

The Detroit Immigration Court will resume hearings in non-detained cases on Monday, July 13, 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. 

The immigration court has implemented public health guidelines for all entering the court. Face coverings are required in EOIR space at all times. As needed, those children younger than two years old and those individuals with medical conditions that prevent them from wearing such a face covering are exempt from this requirement. In addition to the following keep in mind: 

  1. Please do not bring people with you into EOIR space unless they are required to be present for your hearing. Remember that the immigration court may limit entry
  2. To maintain appropriate social distancing and best facilitate hearings, you may be asked to move or leave a particular area.
  3. Waiting times to enter the building and EOIR space may be significantly longer than usual. Make arrangements to arrive in advance of your hearing so you arrive at the courtroom on time.

You may find more information around current public health guidelines and updates regarding the Detroit Immigration Court here.

United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) top

United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has resumed in-person services at its field offices, asylum offices, and Application Support Centers (ASC). USCIS has or will send notices by mail for rescheduled and new appointments. Details about new health protocols for all visitors, as well as individual office closures, can be found here

Naturalization ceremonies are occurring at the Detroit Field Office via drive through in the parking lot. Individuals scheduled for a drive through oath ceremony receive detailed instructions in the mail about what to expect and what is required.

Please call the USCIS Contact Center for assistance with emergency immigration-related services. USCIS continues 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.

On July 1, 2020, Governor Whitmer signed Senate Bills 876-878, extending the renewal dates for driver’s license, commercial driver;s license (CDL), state ID cards, and vehicle registrations. Those with driver’s licenses and vehicle registrations that expired between February 1 and June 30 will have until September 30, 2020 to have them renewed. 

Vehicle registration renewals can still be completed online at Michigan.gov/SOS and Automobile, motorcycle and watercraft registration renewals can also be completed in self-service stations which can be viewed in this link. Additional information surrounding the passing of the bills can be found here.

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. Michigan families will continue to have access to additional food assistance benefits during the month of July. 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.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) recently clarified that Emergency Services Only (ESO) Medicaid covers necessary COVID-19 testing and treatment. For those that are seeking emergency treatment, ESO Medicaid is available to those who are eligible for Medicaid regardless of Immigration status. 

In addition, for those seeking COVID-19 related testing, treatment, or preventive care, this will not be a determinant of public charge when applying for a green card.

Detailed information on what ESO covers and links for locations are located in this flyer as well as in our website for additional COVID-19 related news and updates.

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 now 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 are providing free COVID-19 testing to all residents in Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties, and no prescription is necessary. You can find the latest information here.  If you do not have a doctor but would like to find one, 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

Court authorizes judicial officers to conduct proceedings remotely (whether physically present in the courtroom or elsewhere) using two-way interactive videoconferencing technology or other remote participation tools. Judges who conduct remote proceedings must provide notice of the time and procedure for participating in the remote hearing, and verify that all participants are able to proceed in this manner. Courts are handling essential functions only as described in Administrative Order 2020-6.

Housing: Moratorium on Evictions and Utility Shutoffs top

Executive Order 2020-118 prohibits evictions through at least June 30, 2020, except for tenants who pose a danger to another person or a severe risk to property. This order also prohibits landlords from issuing demand for possession for nonpayment of rent (and possibly other types of eviction notices. Eviction court cases are resuming, but on a limited basis because of restrictions the Michigan Supreme Court has placed on them. When eviction court hearings do happen, they are usually done remotely (phone or videoconference). Remote hearings present many issues of concern for tenants.

Also, under the federal CARES Act, a landlord of a rental property tenants has federal financial assistance ("covered property") cannot file a court eviction complaint for nonpayment of rent or charge any late fees to a tenant until July 25, 2020. Any property that participates in HUD, USDA Rural Development, or Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) rental housing programs, as well as any housing with a “federally backed” mortgage (FHA, VA, RD, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac) is subject to the CARES Act. After July 25, a covered landlord must give the tenant a 30-day notice before starting a nonpayment of rent eviction case against a tenant. No tenant can lawfully be evicted for nonpayment of rent from a CARES Act-covered property until August 24, 2020. Visit this website to see if your rental property is subject to the CARES Act eviction filing moratorium.

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

On June 30, 2020 Governor Whitmer issued Executive Order 2020-142, a new plan to help Michigan School Districts create a structure for a COVID-19 Preparedness and Response Plan as they plan for a return of prek-12 education this Fall. 

Depending on Michigan’s phase of re-opening, some school districts will have different plans on re-opening. However, the following will be included in every school district’s plan:

  1. Providing continuation of food distribution to all eligible students
  2. Offer alternative modes of instruction other than in person instruction
  3. Requiring the wearing of face coverings, except during meals for all students and staff

Each local school district must have an approved Preparedness Plan either seven days before the start of the school year or by August 15, 2020. By August 17, 2020, each school district must have posted their approved Preparedness Plan on the home page of their public internet sites. Further information can be found on the Governor’s website detailing the plan for schools here.

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.