Everyone deserves to be compensated for their on-the-job injuries, but unfortunately, not every worker is covered by Oklahoma’s Administrative Workers’ Compensation Act. It’s important for all workers to understand their rights to workers’ compensation—especially noncitizens. Do noncitizens qualify for workers’ compensation benefits? Here’s what you should know:
Noncitizens’ Right to Workers’ Compensation
Injured workers who are not citizens of the United States are entitled to most of the same workers’ compensation benefits as U.S. citizens. Noncitizens are eligible to receive compensation for their medical expenses, lost wages, and permanent disabilities through the workers’ compensation system. However, noncitizens who are no longer able to perform the duties of their job will not be compensated for vocational training, job placement, or reinstatement (in the case of a retaliation claim against the employer).
Alien Nonresident Dependents’ Right to Workers’ Compensation Death Benefits
Noncitizens can be labeled as alien nonresidents if they do not have green cards and do not pass the substantial presence test. To pass this test, you must have been physically present in the U.S. for a certain number of days in the last few years. For example, someone who has spent more than 31 days in the U.S. over the last year will pass the substantial presence test.
If you are considered an alien nonresident, you are entitled to the same amount of workers’ compensation benefits as U.S. citizens if you suffer a work-related injury. However, the rules regarding death benefits for alien nonresidents are slightly different than the death benefit rules for U.S. citizens.
According to 85A OK Stat § 85A-11, workers’ compensation death benefits will be paid to the alien nonresident’s family if he suffers a fatal work-related injury. This is true even if the alien nonresident’s family lives outside of the country. But, the only dependents that are allowed to collect these death benefits from outside of the country are the victim’s spouse or children. If the victim did not have a spouse or children, the death benefits may be sent to the victim’s parents instead. Parents are only eligible to receive these death benefits if they were financially supported by the victim in some way in the year prior to his death.
Noncitizens who suffer work-related injuries are entitled to most of the same rights as citizens. If you have been injured at work, seek legal representation from the team of skilled attorneys at Armstrong & Vaught, P.L.C. We assist injured workers from all walks of life recover the benefits they deserve. Call 918-582-2500, toll free (800) 722-8880, or contact us online to schedule a free consultation with an experienced attorney.