In the middle of March, President Donald Trump declared a national emergency due to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). Since then, schools have been closed, “non-essential” businesses have been directed to close their doors, stay-at-home orders have been issued, people have been asked to wear face masks in public, and millions of Americans have lost their jobs.
The financial impact of the pandemic has been devastating to America and economies around the world. As such, the U.S. government decided to issue economic stimulus payments to Americans as a part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act). Under the ACT, each qualifying individual receives a payment of $1,200, married couples receive $2,400, and parents of minor children receive $500 for each child age 16 and younger.
Qualifying for a Stimulus Payment
Who qualifies for an economic stimulus payment? To qualify, you must:
- Be a U.S. citizen, Green Card holder, or qualifying resident alien,
- Not be claimed as a dependent on another person’s tax return,
- Have a Social Security number, and
- Not have an income that exceeds the threshold. The payments are phased out for individual and married filers who have higher incomes than most. For example, individuals who earn over $99,000 a year and married couples who file jointly and earn $198,000 a year will not receive a stimulus payment.
What’s Your Immigration Status?
For an immigrant to receive a stimulus payment or check, they have to be a U.S. citizen, a permanent resident (Green Card holder), or a “qualifying resident alien,” which can be a bit tricky to understand. In order to be a qualifying resident alien, you’ll have to pass what’s called a “substantial presence test.” In other words, you must have been present in the U.S. for 31 days in 2020, and a total of 183 days in the past three years.
Note: To receive a stimulus payment, you have to have a valid Social Security number. If your Social Security card says, “authorized to work with DHS authorization only,” that’s okay, for stimulus payment purposes, you still have a valid Social Security number.