Coronavirus Stimulus Package: Do Immigrants Qualify?

Coronavirus Stimulus Package: Do Immigrants Qualify?

Soon, many people will receive a $1,200 payment from the recent federal stimulus package. This payment is meant to help those who have lost income due to the COVID-19, or Coronavirus emergency.

Many immigrants wonder if their immigration status will impact their eligibility to get the $1,200 payment. Unfortunately, this new federal legislation does not clearly state which immigrants will be eligible for a $1,200 payment. Instead, it says who will not get the money, which makes this confusing. 

In this blog post, we will review which immigrants will not be eligible to receive the Coronavirus stimulus package.

Immigrants Who are Ineligible

There are two main groups of immigrants who will not receive the $1,200 payment:

ITIN Users

Those who use an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number, or ITIN when they file their federal income taxes will not be eligible to get the payment. Also, anyone who used an ITIN on their federal taxes for anyone in their family will not be eligible.

Only people who filed their taxes using valid social security numbers throughout their entire tax record are eligible to get the $1,200 payment.

Nonresident Aliens

Nonresident aliens will not be eligible for the $1,200 stimulus payment. But what is a nonresident alien?

There are two types of immigrants who do not have to worry about being classified as a nonresident alien:

  1. If you are a lawful permanent resident, you do not have to worry about your immigration status preventing you from getting your stimulus money.

     

  2. If you are not a lawful permanent resident, but (1) have been working here legally, and (2) pass the substantial physical presence test, you do not have to worry about being classified as a nonresident alien.

    This test applies to refugees and asylees who have lived in the U.S. long enough to apply for residence and to those who have “U” nonimmigrant status or DACA.

    Using the substantial physical presence test is a little strange because it is actually a term used by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). However, Congress chose to use this rule in order to decide who could get the $1,200 payment.

What is the substantial physical presence test?

According to the Substantial Presence Test page on IRS.gov:

You will be considered a United States resident for tax purposes if you meet the substantial presence test for the calendar year. To meet this test, you must be physically present in the United States (U.S.) on at least:

  1. 31 days during the current year, and

     

  2. 183 days during the 3-year period that includes the current year and the 2 years immediately before that, counting:
    • All the days you were present in the current year, and
    • 1/3 of the days you were present in the first year before the current year, and
    • 1/6 of the days you were present in the second year before the current year.

Example (from IRS.gov):

You were physically present in the U.S. on 120 days in each of the years 2012, 2013, and 2014. To determine if you meet the substantial presence test for 2014, count the full 120 days of presence in 2014, 40 days in 2013 (1/3 of 120), and 20 days in 2012 (1/6 of 120). Since the total for the 3-year period is 180 days, you are not considered a resident under the substantial presence test for 2014.

For More Information

The IRS has an informational page on their website answering many questions that people have about the Coronavirus stimulus package. For example, they explain how much money you can expect based on your income. 

This whole thing can be a little confusing. If you are worried about meeting the substantial physical presence test, talk to a competent immigration attorney.