In order to qualify for the payments, you must be either a U.S. citizen, a lawful permanent resident (green card holder), or a qualifying resident alien, and have a Social Security number.
What Are the Stimulus Payments?
COVID-19, the novel coronavirus, has disrupted life across the United States and around the world. In order to alleviate the economic burden on Americans, Congress authorized stimulus payments. Individuals can receive up to $1,200 per individual, $2,400 per married couples who file joint tax returns, and $500 per qualifying minor child. However, not all immigrants are eligible for these payments.
Who Qualifies for the Stimulus Payments?
To qualify for a stimulus payment, you must:
- be a U.S. citizen, permanent resident or qualifying resident alien
- not be a dependent on someone else’s return
- have a valid Social Security number, and
- meet the income requirements. Payments begin to be phased out for individuals earning more than $75,000 per year, married couples filing jointly who earn more than $150,000 per year, and head of household filers earning more than $112,5000. No payments at all will be made to individuals who earn more than $99,000 per year, $198,000 for married couples filing jointly, and $136,500 for head of household filers.
How Immigration Status Affects Stimulus Payment?
In order to qualify for the payments, you must be either a U.S. citizen, a lawful permanent resident (green card holder), or a qualifying resident alien.
The IRS defines a resident alien as someone who either is a green card holder or meets the substantial presence test for the calendar year (January 1 to December 31).
In order to pass the substantial presence test, you must be present in the U.S. for 31 days during the current year, and 183 total days in the past three years. Certain immigrant categories by statute cannot establish substantial presence. These include F student visa holders, J visa students, and other rare visa categories.
What It Means to Have a Valid Social Security Number?
In order to receive the payment, you must have a valid Social Security number. If you have a Social Security card that says “authorized to work with DHS authorization only,” that still qualifies as a valid number for stimulus payment purposes.
Many undocumented immigrants do not have Social Security numbers, but still file taxes using an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN). Unfortunately, anyone who uses an ITIN instead of a Social Security number is categorically denied the stimulus payment.
Public Charge Considerations
The stimulus payments are considered tax credits and do not have any negative public charge consequences for those concerned about this ground of immigration inadmissibility or becoming deportable.