COVID-19 Impact on Immigration: Non-Citizen Eligibility for Recovery Rebates under the CARES Act

The recovery rebates under the Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act are administered under tax law and has very specific requirements as to eligibility. Generally, noncitizens must (1) meet certain income limits, (2) have social security number, and (3) satisfy resident alien requirement under the “green card” test or “substantial presence” test. The last two requirements are the subjects of this article.

Social Security Number Requirement

  • Only tax filers with a social security number (SSN) for the taxable year (2018 or 2019) may qualify for the recovery rebate. Joint filers must include an SSN for both spouses, unless one spouse is in the Armed Forces. This condition means a joint filer with a spouse who does not have an SSN or who has an individual tax payor number (ITIN) will not qualify for the recovery rebate.
  • For any qualifying child, parents must include the child’s SSN or adoption taxpayer identification number. Therefore, children who do not have an SSN will not qualify.  In addition, it appears that a parent without an SSN cannot claim credit for a qualifying child, even if the child has an SSN number.
  • Only social security numbers issued based on being a U.S. citizen, lawful permanent resident (LPR), or an alien authorized to work in the U.S. meet the social security number requirement.

Resident Alien Requirement

  • The CARES Act excludes “any nonresident alien individual” from receiving recovery rebates.
  • An individual who is a lawful permanent resident (LPR) is a resident alien and qualifies for the recovery rebate.
  • An individual who satisfies the substantial presence test is a resident alien who can qualify for the recovery rebate. The substantial presence test requires physical presence in the United States at least 31 days during the current year and a cumulative 183 days during the 3-year period that includes the current year and the two 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.

In general, receipt of the recovery rebate will not be considered a disqualifying public benefit under the Department of Homeland Security public charge rule.

This article is provided as an educational service and is not legal advice. Consult with an attorney for your specific circumstances.  For a comprehensive evaluation of your immigration situation and options,  you are invited to call me at 214-494-8033, complete my contact form, or visit my websites at www.badmuslaw.com and  www.physicianimmigration.com.

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