WA Cares Fund and Immigration

The WA Cares Fund is a new plan in Washington State which hopes to fund long term care for Washingtonians. The plan requires mandatory payroll deductions of 0.58%, beginning July 1st. This will be $580 per year on a $100,000 earned.

Beginning January 1, 2023, an exemption was created for nonimmigrant workers. Nonimmigrant visa holders will include H-1Bs, H-2Bs, E-1s, E-2s, L-1s, O-1s, F-1s on student visas, TNs and other temporary worker statuses. This is a large group. Presumbably the exemption was created because those on these statuses may never benefit from the contributions.

The burden of establishing the exemption is placed on the nonimmigrant worker. An application for an exemption can be made with the Washington State Employment Security Department. A SecuresAccess WA will be required, and then the State will require proof of a work authorized visa. Washington State does not distinguish on the site between “visas” and other forms of nonimmigrant work authorization (e.g. Canadians with I-94s). Employment Security will issue an approval letter, that must be presented to the employer, and each subsequent employer.

The State says that an employer is not responsible to return premiums, if the nonimmigrant has not presented the approval letter to employers. WA Cares also says the exemption will take effect the quarter after the application is approved. Deductions for up to 13 weeks before applying an exemption? Seems unfair, if a worker is entitled to the exemption. Public notice on these exemptions? There hasn’t been much. The deduction is not trivial.

The WA Cares Fund exemption is also available to persons who live outside of Washington State. Many persons commute from British Columbia to work in Washington. Some are in nonimmigrant status and some are U.S. citizens or “commuter aliens” residing in Canada.

Lawful permanent residents (green card holders) are not entitled to the exemption.

The program is new, and there may be adjustments yet. Other concerns are likely to rise. For those who want the exemption, it seems prudent to apply asap, to account for processing times.