On March 27, 2020, a $2 trillion stimulus package, known as the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (“CARES Act”), was signed into law. The stimulus package provides relief to businesses and direct payments to individuals. Below we briefly describe the relief for individuals and whether foreign nationals/immigrants are eligible.
I. Direct Payments
The CARES Act provides individuals earning less than $75,000 a payment of $1,200. Married couples filing jointly and earning less than $150,000 are eligible to receive $2400. For every qualifying child, a family may receive an additional $500 per child.
II. Who is Eligible?
According to the CARES Act, individuals that would be eligible would mean any individual other than—
(A) any nonresident alien individual,
(B) any individual with respect to whom a deduction under section 151 is allowable to another taxpayer for a taxable year beginning in the calendar year in which the individual’s taxable year begins, and
(C) an estate or trust.
Thus, whether a foreign national is eligible depends upon whether they can be deemed a “resident alien.” According to the IRS, this depends upon whether an individual meets one of two tests:
- Green Card Test – you will be deemed a resident alien if you are a lawful permanent resident (conditional resident) at any time during the calendar year.
- Substantial Presence Test – you will be deemed a resident alien if you meet the substantial presence test which requires you to be physically present in the U.S. on at least:
- 31 days during the current year, and
- 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.
Further, the CARES Act limits eligibility to individuals who possess a valid Social Security Number, as opposed to an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN). It also does not extend to individuals listed as dependents on someone else’s tax returns, though the primary tax filers may receive direct payments for their dependent children as described above.
III. Examples of Individuals Who May Qualify
- Green Card holders (Permanent Residents and Conditional Residents)
- Temporary nonimmigrant workers, including but not limited to individuals on H-1B, H-1B1, E-1/E-2, E-3, L-1, O-1, TN; and spouses of such workers that have work authorization such as H-4 and L-2;
- Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients who are not filed as a dependent on someone else’s tax return.
IV. Who is Left Out?
Excluded from the stimulus package are millions of undocumented individuals, many of whom file taxes using an ITIN. Even undocumented parents who have U.S. citizen children will not receive the stimulus package. Many of these individuals work in service jobs which they cannot currently perform and receive an income. They are also excluded from receiving unemployment benefits.
Disclaimer: This is a general advisory and not the basis for specific legal advice. The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute an attorney-client relationship.
Consultation: Please contact MPLG today to schedule a consultation for your individual concerns.
 This advisory does not discuss the specifics of applying for the benefits and details about your personal eligibility other than to provide summary information.