How does the COVID-19 Pandemic affect my legal rights?
Staff at LawHelpMN are updating the website as fast as we can to give you information about how the COVID-19 pandemic affects your legal rights. This page has links to all of the information we have so far. See the last section for a list of all COVID-related fact sheets.
Last updated: May 18, 2020
The Governor changed the “Stay at Home” Executive Order to be the “Stay Safe MN”. This means that more places can open and people can gather in small groups of 10 or less. This Order starts Monday, May 18th. Remember to keep at least 6 feet of distance between you and other people if you have to leave home.
If you don’t have a home, you can’t be punished. Call United Way at 211 or (651) 291-0211 to see if there are new housing programs that could help you.
Do not stay in your home if you need to leave for your safety. Call your local Legal Aid office right away if you need to move for your safety. If you need a safe place to stay tonight, call Day One Crisis Line at 1-866-223-1111, text 612-399-9995, or go to dayoneservices.org.
Read our fact sheet Covid-19: What does the Stay Safe MN Order mean for me? for more information.
Last updated: March 26, 2020
If you don’t feel safe at home and it is an emergency, call 911. If you're being hurt or abused, call the Minnesota Day One Crisis Hotline at 1-866-223-1111. They can help you to get help, safety and support. Domestic and sexual violence programs are still open.
All court cases related to domestic violence are “High Priority.” This means you can still file a case for a restraining order (HRO) or order for protection (OFP). You can file these forms online. Call Legal Aid to get help.
See our fact sheets COVID-19: Orders for Protection (OFP), Custody and Parenting Time and Orders for Protection and Harassment Orders for more information.
Last updated: May 14, 2020
Your landlord can’t end your lease or evict you right now. Evictions are on pause during the Peacetime Emergency that Governor Walz declared on March 13, 2020. If your landlord tries to end your lease or evict you, call Legal Aid right away and file a complaint with the Attorney General’s Office. Undocumented people have all the same housing rights when it comes to housing and evictions.
You should still pay rent if you can. If you can’t make rent:
- Apply for short-term emergency assistance
- Talk to your landlord and explain why you can’t make rent.
Your utility bills are due as normal. But Xcel Energy, Centerpoint, and some cities and other utility providers are stopping utility shutoffs during COVID-19. If you need help with your heating bill, you might be able to get help from Minnesota’s Energy Assistance Program. They made it easier to get help during the Pandemic. Call 1-800-657-3710, press 1, then enter your zip code to talk with your local Energy Assistance Program.
Read our fact sheet COVID-19: Renters' Rights and Court Changes During the Pandemic for more information.
Last updated: April 8, 2020
If you can’t make your mortgage payment, call the company or bank you send your mortgage payments to every month. If your mortgage is FHA insured or is with Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, you may be able to get a forbearance. Forbearance means your full payments could be suspended for a period of time.
Many foreclosures are suspended for 60 days from March 18 – May 17, 2020.
If you need help with your heating bill, you might be able to get help from Minnesota’s Energy Assistance Program. They made it easier to get help during the Pandemic. Call 1-800-657-3710, press 1, then enter your zip code to talk with your local Energy Assistance Program.
Read our fact sheet COVID-19: Mortgage Payments and Foreclosures During the Pandemic for more information.
Last updated: April 30, 2020
There are temporary changes to the rules for unemployment benefits. Apply online for unemployment benefits if your job is closed or your hours are reduced because of COVID-19. Immigrants can get unemployment if they have permission to work. Unemployment benefits do not count for the public charge rule.
The new rules:
- Let many self-employed and gig economy workers get unemployment benefits.
- Increase the payment amount. You get an extra $600 each week.
- Increase how long you can get unemployment. You can get unemployment for a total of 39 weeks.
If you are self-employed, you may be eligible for a small business emergency loan. Loans are between $2,500 to $35,000. Learn more about small business emergency loans.
Read our fact sheets COVID-19: Changes in Unemployment Benefits During the Pandemic and Unemployment Benefits for more information.
Last updated: March 27, 2020
If you don’t have enough money for food, you may be able to get “expedited” food stamps (also called “SNAP”). “Expedited” means fast. If you qualify they have to give you the expedited food stamps within 5 days. You can apply online or call the SNAP Hotline 651-431-4050 in the Twin Cities metro area or 800-657-3698 outside the metro area.
You may also be able to get Emergency General Assistance (EGA). EGA is a cash grant from the county for low-income people with an emergency. It can be for 1 person or a household with only adults.
If your kids go to public school and normally get free or reduced-price meals at school, your school district may have a program to get them food. Call your school district to find out.
Contact United Way 211 to find other services in your community to help you through this time. You can call 211 or 800-543-7709 or text your zip code to 898-211*.
*If you live in Hennepin County, visit https://www.hennepin.us/covid-19#services-available for information on how to access benefits.
*If you live in Ramsey County, visit https://www.ramseycounty.us/covid-19-info/coronavirus-impacts-county-services for information on how to access benefits.
See our fact sheets Expedited (Emergency) Food Stamps, Emergency General Assistance (EGA), and Meals For Public School Children While Schools Are Closed for more information.
Last updated: April 27, 2020
Most people will get a payment from the government. It is based on your 2019 taxes. If you haven’t filed 2019 taxes yet, you still can.
Payments are direct deposited in your bank account or mailed in a check. The IRS uses the direct deposit or address information you gave them when you filed your 2019 taxes. If you don’t file or haven’t filed yet, the IRS uses the information from your 2018 taxes.
If you don’t file taxes because you get Social Security, the IRS uses the information from social security to send you a payment. They do this for senior citizens, Social Security recipients and railroad retirees who otherwise don’t file a tax return. You can learn more at the IRS website: https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus/economic-impact-payments.
Getting a payment does not affect your eligibility for federal or state benefits. The payment does not count for the Public Charge test for immigrants.
See our fact sheet COVID-19: Am I Getting a (Payment) Check? for more information.
Last updated: March 19, 2020
If you don’t have health insurance, you can get insurance through MNSure during the COVID-19 emergency special enrollment period.
Testing for COVID-19 is free if you have Medical Assistance (MA), Emergency MA (EMA), MinnesotaCare, and most private insurance companies. Contact your insurance company for questions about plan benefit details and how to find care.
See our fact sheet COVID-19: Health Insurance During the Panedmic for more information.
Last updated: March 26, 2020
The COVID-19 Pandemic does not change your custody or parenting time order. If you don’t think your child should go to the other parent’s house because of COVID-19 talk to the other parent about your concerns. If you can’t agree, you can try mediation or try to get an emergency court order. Community Mediation of Minnesota offers mediation by phone or video-conference at low or no cost.
See our fact sheet COVID-19: Orders for Protection (OFP), Custody and Parenting Time for more information.
Last updated: March 31, 2020
Most immigration courts are still open, but many hearings are cancelled. You can see a daily update at the immigration court’s website. Updates are listed by court location: https://www.justice.gov/eoir/eoir-operational-status-during-coronavirus-pandemic.
USCIS offices are closed and have cancelled in person appointments. If you have an appointment scheduled, you will get a new appointment date and time in the mail from USCIS. Make sure you update your address if you moved or are about to move.
ICE says they do not go to hospitals or medical clinics. If you are sick, get medical care. If you have regular check-ins, contact your local office where you check in. The general phone number for the ICE office in Minnesota is: (612) 843-8600. They are still holding hearings for people in detention, and they are still accepting bond payments.
See our fact sheets COVID-19: Changes for Immigration Cases with Immigration Court, USCIS, and ICE During the Pandemic, Reporting a Change of Address, and Immigration Bonds for more information.
Last updated: March 26, 2020
Most courts are only having hearings for “High Priority” cases.
If your case is in state court (most cases), call the courthouse to find out about your case. You can find your court’s information in the section called “County-specific District Court Information” at http://www.mncourts.gov/Emergency.aspx. For more information see our fact sheets:
- COVID-19: Court Changes for Late Penalties, Collections Referrals, and Drivers' License Suspensions During the Pandemic
If your paperwork says your case is in the “United States District Court – District of Minnesota,” your case is in federal court. See our fact sheet COVID-19: Federal Court Cases During the Pandemic for more information.
If your case is in immigration court, see our fact sheet COVID-19: Changes for Immigration Cases with Immigration Court, USCIS, and ICE During the Pandemic for more information.
Last updated: March 27, 2020
Living through the COVID-19 Pandemic is extremely stressful. Your mental health is important. Please see these resources for help:
- Evictions, rent payments, apartment showings, and more
- Money for self-employed and gig economy workers, higher amounts, how long you can get it
- Basic eligibility for unemployment
- Who can get a check from the government, how to make sure you get it
- Getting food stamps right away if you can’t afford food right now
- Emergency government cash grants for adult households without kids
- Who does the Order apply to and when is it ok to leave your home
- Getting an OFP and which family law cases the courts are taking right now
- Mortgage “forbearance” and are you protected from foreclosure
- Which cases are still happening, finding out about your case
- Which cases are still happening, finding out about your case or application, info on ICE activity
- What benefits count for the public charge test for immigrants
- What the court is doing with suspensions and late fees
- How to enroll if you don’t have it, what COVID-19 expenses are covered
- How to get food for your kid(s) if they usually get food at school