Not all immigrants qualify for an economic stimulus payment. See below for information to determine whether you qualify. If you are a not a US citizen but you otherwise qualify for a payment under the rules stated above, you have one additional barrier to surmount — you must pass one of the following two tests to qualify for a payment: (i) the lawful permanent residence test or (ii) the substantial presence test:
The Lawful Permanent Residence Test (“Green Card”) Test
You are considered eligible for a stimulus payment if you are a lawful permanent resident (a “green card” holder). If you have ever been issued a green card, you will retain this status indefinitely unless:
- you renounce your permanent residence status writing and send the renunciation letter to the USCIS;
- the USCIS terminates your permanent residence status in writing; or
- an immigration court terminates your permanent residence status by court order.
The “Substantial Presence” Test
You can qualify for a stimulus check without a green card if you pass the “substantial presence” test. To pass this test, you must have spent at least 31 days in the United States during 2020 alone, and 183 days during the 3-year period that includes 2018, 2019 and 2020.
To calculate the number of days for which you qualify to reach the benchmark of 183, however, you may count only:
- All of the days you were present in the US in 2020;
- One-third of the days you were present in the US during 2019; and,
- One-sixth of the days you were present in the US during 2018.
For example, if you spent 90 days in the US in 2020, 180 days in the US 2019 and 240 days in the US in 2018, your score will be (100% X 90 = 90) + (⅓ Xf 180=60) + (⅙ Xf 240 = 40) = 90 + 60+40= 190. Since this score exceeds 183, normally will pass the physical presence test and be eligible for a stimulus payment.
Unfortunately, however, additional barriers apply, even if you meet the conditions outlined above, that could prevent you from receiving an economic stimulus payment:
- You will not qualify if your presence in the US is based on an A, F, G, J, M or Q visa, or if you are in the US to receive medical treatment. If you find yourself in this situation, speak with an experienced immigration lawyer for details, because there may be a loophole available to you.
- You will not qualify for an economic stimulus payment if (i) you file your taxes using an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) instead of a Social Security Number (SSN); (ii) you filed a joint tax return with a spouse who used an ITIN instead of an SSN; or you filed a tax return with a qualifying child who has an ITIN instead of an SSN.
An example of an immigrant class within the foregoing problems arise are many workers in H-1B status. This exclusion has been criticized by many people, including domestic immigrant advocacy groups since it means that some US taxpayers will not receive economic stimulus payments at all.