​The SEA program is  an option for regular Unemployment Insurance claimants who have been identified as likely to run out of benefits before they return to work.  Claimants are identified using a computerized mathematical formula called worker profiling. 

SEA program participants may attend SEA counseling/training and can engage in self-employment activities on a full-time basis. 

Participants must complete both a written business plan and a market feasibility study. The program operates as a collaborative effort between the Oregon Employment Department, and the Small Business Development Center Network (SBDC).

​To qualify for SEA, you must:
  • Be eligible for, and receiving regular Unemployment Insurance benefits
  • Be unlikely to return to your previous employment and not a member in good standing with a closed shop union
  • Have been identified as likely to exhaust Unemployment Insurance benefits
  • Have a viable business idea
  • Be willing to work full-time to develop your business
  • Have or be able to obtain the financial backing needed to start and sustain the business until it becomes self-supporting, and
  • If the business requires an occupational license (state license), you must already have that license at the time of your SEA application

All SEA participants must attend self-employment assistance training (if directed to do so), complete a market feasibility study and a written business plan, and be engaged in self-employment activities on a full-time basis for each week claimed.


SEA benefits include:
  • Weekly Unemployment Insurance benefits while participating in self-employment activities
  • Waiver of the actively seeking work requirement while participating in the program
  • Counseling and technical assistance on developing a market feasibility study and a business plan
  • Money earned from the business is not deducted from your weekly benefit payment
If you participate in the SEA program you won't have work search requirements while claiming benefits.

You can receive business start-up counseling and advice from Oregon’s Small Business Development Center Network (SBDC) free of charge. 
To learn more, go to: http://www.bizcenter.org/​.

*Classes and books are at cost to the participant. 

If you make money from your private enterprise, you keep the proceeds and still get your full weekly benefit payment.

People come to the program in all states of readiness to do business, so we don’t require applicants to wait for a class to start etc. When you are accepted in to the program is when you start.
Please remember that not every Oregon Unemployment Insurance claimant is eligible for this program.

1. Contact the UI Special Programs Center to see if you meet minimum eligibility.

2. Get an application for Self Employment Assistance. Make sure your Worker Profile Score is written on the application.

3. Set up Secure Email with a UI Special Programs Center Program Specialist, once done, send the completed application to the UI Special Programs Center through secure email. They will contact you to confirm that you have met all eligibility requirements and to give you further instructions.

Once you have been approved to participate in the Self Employment Assistance Program, you will receive a letter from the Oregon Employment Department.  This letter will explain all of the requirements of the program.  One of those requirements will be to view this video and complete the next steps.

You can f​ind more videos on elements of the Self Employment Assistance Program here​.
​1. I don’t live in Oregon, can I be in SEA?
If you have a regular Oregon Unemployment Insurance claim, and you live close enough to access Oregon WIOA Services and/or Small Business Development Network facilities, then you can apply.
2. My claim is against another state. Can I participate in SEA?
Not unless your liable state has a functioning SEA program. You must check to see if they will allow you to participate if you are now living in another state.

3. Can I apply for extended benefits?
If Oregon is in a period of extended benefits, you can apply for a federal extension, but you will have to drop out of the SEA program and return to looking for work.

4. I am just about to receive my Securities’s license; can I be in SEA if I don’t have my state license yet?
You can request an exception to the rule regarding state licensure if you are close to having the license in hand (e.g. 2 weeks).Exceptions are handled on a case-by-case basis.

5. What kinds of businesses are prohibited?
No specific businesses are prohibited by rule, but Small Business Development Counselors are advised to only approve applications for businesses that are legal in Oregon, are appropriate for government sponsorship, and compatible within their particular neighborhood. Some businesses that are legal in bordering states (e.g., Nevada) are not legal in Oregon.

7. If I am denied for SEA is there an appeal process?
Yes, your denial letter will include instructions for an appeal.
8. How much money can I make through my business and still maintain my weekly benefit payments?
There is no limit on how much money you can earn from your own private enterprise while you participate in SEA. You must report your earnings, but they are not deducted from your weekly payments. If you work for another employer, those earnings will be deducted.
9. If I am going to be a general contractor, do I have to have my state license before applying for SEA?
You must have a State of Oregon Contractor’s License in hand if it is a prerequisite of conducting the kind of business that you will operate.

Local business licenses or franchise certifications are not covered under this rule.
10. Will I get extra weeks of benefits on SEA?
No. Your remaining balance is all that you will receive (e.g., if you start SEA in your fourth week of unemployment, and you began with 26 weeks maximum benefits, you will have 22 weeks of benefits remaining).

11. Do I have to have my business plan completed before I am accepted to SEA?
Your business plan is normally due to the UI Special Programs Center within 45 days of acceptance to the program.  Only your SEA application  is needed to begin the approval process.
12. What am I required to do after I am approved for the program?
You will need to submit a SEA Weekly Claim Certification on a weekly basis. You can download the form here​.

Be sure to check your remaining Unemployment Insurance benefits balance periodically so you'll know how many weeks you have left in SEA.

UI Special Programs Center

Oregon Employment Department
PO Box 14518
Salem, Or 97309​

Hours of Operation

8:00 AM  - 5:00 PM


Phone: 503-947-1800
Toll Free: (800) 436-6191
TTY: 7-1-1
Email: SEA Program