AAFE is now providing telephone assistance for people seeking to file applications for unemployment insurance with New York State. Counselors from AAFE’s Workforce Development and Entitlement programs are collaborating to provide the new service, which is available in Chinese and Spanish.

The state’s Department of Labor has been overwhelmed with more than one-million applications for unemployment benefits, as a result of the coronavirus crisis. The department’s online system has repeatedly crashed and many people have been unable to file applications. AAFE has mobilized to provide assistance to ensure that low-income immigrant New Yorkers receive the income support they need in this difficult time, including individuals who do not qualify for regular unemployment benefits but are now eligible for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) through the federal CARES Act. Individuals who are eligible include small business owners and independent contractors who have had to close their businesses as a direct result of the coronavirus.

Filing for unemployment is challenging for anyone, but especially for limited English speakers. AAFE has always been committed to facilitating language access for essential social services. This is especially important during the coronavirus outbreak. Restaurants and other businesses in Manhattan’s Chinatown, and in Flushing and Sunset Park felt the economic impacts of COVID-19 long before businesses in the rest of the city. Immigrants, who make up New York’s service sector workforce, have been hard hit by layoffs and furloughs.

While AAFE offices are closed until shelter-in-place orders are lifted, staff members are working remotely and continuing to provide a wide range of crucial community services. Anyone requesting assistance with an unemployment insurance application should call 718-961-2833 or 718-961-0888, or email Tina Li at tina_li@aafe.org.

Applicants should have the following information on hand to complete unemployment insurance applications:

  • Social Security Number
  • Mother’s Maiden Name
  • Valid New York State driver’s license or Non-Driver Photo Identification Card number
  • Complete mailing address and zip code
  • Employer Registration Number or Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN) of your most recent employer
  • Complete name, address, zip code and phone number of your most recent employer
  • Alien Registration Card number (if you are not a U.S. Citizen)