As a result of the unprecedented Corona Virus pandemic, Congress has passed bipartisan economic relief legislation.   The components include stimulus payments to individuals, expanded unemployment benefits and coverage, student loan modifications, changes to retirement rules, help to small businesses, and more.  The bill is a complex one (over 800 pages) and this post focuses on the stimulus payments to individuals only.  Specifically, the post addresses the question of whether someone on a Visa qualifies for the Stimulus payment, and whether receipt of the payment would have any negative immigration consequences under the new public charge rules.

Under the stimulus plan, most adults will get a $1,200 payment and payments would be made of $500 for each qualifying child.  The payments are subject to income restrictions and are phased out for high income earners.

The legislation does not prohibit or restrict payments made to people on visas.  That is, if you are on a visa (E-2, TN, H-1B, O-1, etc.) you are eligible to receive the stimulus check.   Instead of basing the distribution on immigration status, the government decided that if you are a resident for tax purposes, you will get the stimulus check.  Regardless of your visa  (generally speaking as F Visas for example are excluded from this rule), you are a  resident for tax purposes if you have been in the U.S. for more than 183 days in the last year. (the test is more complicated than this but this is the general idea).  Tax residents file a 1040 IRS form while non-residents file a 1040 NR (Non Resident) IRS form.  The stimulus payment that is made will be done through your IRS tax account, and it will be based on your 2018 or 2019 tax return.  The payments are phased out as your income increases, and  while the payment will be made based on your income level in 2018 or 2019 as an estimate, the actual payment will be based on the 2020 tax return.   When you file that return, you will true up the amount.  If your income in 2020 exceeds the threshold, you will be required to pay back some or all of the funds.  The idea is that the payment is supposed to assist with economic hardship in 2020.

As the stimulus bill specifically targets residents for tax purposes and does not have any immigration carve out or exclusions, we do not believe there will be any public charge implications to receiving this benefit.  You can find out more about the public charge rules by clicking here.

You can find key immigration information related to the Corona Virus below.

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