Will I Get a Stimulus Check?: What Immigrants and Mixed Status Families Need to Know

Last updated on October 11th, 2023 at 02:29 pm

UPDATE: As of December 29, 2020, the IRS and the Treasury Department have begun sending a second round of stimulus checks after a fierce debate in Congress. One big change from last time? This $900 billion coronavirus relief package allows mixed-status households, where one spouse is a citizen or legal resident and the other is not, to receive checks.

So if you’re wondering: “will I get a stimulus check if my spouse has an ITIN?” The answer is: yes. Your spouse, however, is unlikely to qualify.

Scroll below to find more information.

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The coronavirus has changed many of our lives throughout the world. If you’re like the millions of people out of work, you’re not alone. Back in March of 2020, the U.S. Congress passed a $2 trillion package that included individual payments, or stimulus checks, to provide financial help. This latest relief package for 2021 extends that support.

You may wonder who qualifies for coronavirus relief. This is especially true for immigrants to the United States, who often support family back home besides providing for themselves.

Here at Remitly, we want to make sure that our customers and all immigrants have access to good financial information. That’s why we put together this guide for immigrants and mixed-status families about stimulus checks and pandemic-related financial help.

How Do I Qualify for a Second Stimulus Check?

The IRS makes payments automatic for:

  • Eligible taxpayers who filed a 2019 tax return;
  • Those who receive Social Security retirement, SSDI, Railroad Retirement benefits, or SSI, and;
  • Veterans Affairs beneficiaries who didn’t file a tax return.

To be eligible to receive a stimulus check, you need to:

  • Be a U.S. citizen, permanent resident or qualifying resident
  • Have a valid Social Security number
  • Not be a dependent on someone else’s tax return

You also must meet income requirements. For the second round of stimulus, these are the income limits:

  • For single residents, an adjusted gross income of less than $75,000
  • For joint filers with an AGI of less than $150,000

Mixed-Status Families Are Now Eligible for Stimulus Aid

Many wonder if they will receive a stimulus check if their spouse is an immigrant. Previously, the CARES Act excluded families like this, but this time, they’ll be eligible.

A mixed status family are those who have at least one family member who is a U.S. citizen or green card holder and members who don’t have legal immigration status. An estimated 16.7 million people are part of a mixed status family, with 6.1 million U.S. citizen children living in these households.

Because of the way the CARES Act was written, mixed status families couldn’t  receive payments, even if one person in the household met the residency requirement and had a valid Social Security number. The exception was if one member of a mixed status couple was serving in the Armed Forces.

Fortunately, the rules are different with this second round of stimulus checks, and the family member with the SSN, as well as citizen children, will receive aid. This is true even if their spouse does not have an SSN.

Which Immigrants Qualify for a Stimulus Check?

Let’s break down which types of immigrants qualify.

First, you need to either be a qualifying resident alien or a green card holder (aka a lawful permanent resident). Where it gets challenging is who counts as a qualifying resident alien.

According to the IRS, a resident alien is someone who is either a lawful permanent resident or passes the substantial presence test for a calendar year.

In other words, you need to be in the U.S. for a minimum of 31 days out of one calendar year, and a minimum of 183 days for the past three years.

Individuals who pass the substantial presence test include DACA and TPS recipients, H-1B visa holders, H-1B visa holders (H-4 spouses need to have a valid Social Security number) TN visa holders, O-1 visa holders, and E-2 visa holders. You can check with the IRS to see whether you qualify.

Do Undocumented Immigrants with an ITIN Receive Support?

Unfortunately, no, unless they are members of the military.

Just as with the CARES Act, undocumented immigrants and non-citizens without Social Security numbers cannot receive stimulus checks. This is true even if they file individual tax returns.

What’s more, U.S. citizen children of undocumented immigrants will also be ineligible for the support.


Why Haven’t I Received My Check Yet?

Those who qualify for a stimulus check can check the status of their Economic Impact Payment through a dedicated web page the IRS set up (either spouse who files jointly can check the status).

In many cases, the IRS is experiencing delays which may mean your payment is on its way once your tax return is fully processed.

History of Coronavirus Relief Packages in the U.S.

The first legislation package, signed at the end of March 2020, was called the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act). One part of the act has authorized payments to U.S. citizens and residents through Economic Impact Payments.

The IRS, or Internal Revenue Service, sent Economic Impact Payments to qualifying individuals, and there was no need to apply. Americans were eligible to receive up to $1,200 per person, $2,400 for those filing joint tax returns and $500 for each qualifying minor child in the household.

Related reading: Public Service Loan Forgiveness in the U.S.: How Does It Work?

Other Proposals Didn’t Make it Through, but May Lead to Future Changes

On May 15, 2020, The House of Representatives passed the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act. This coronavirus relief bill would ensure all taxpayers — regardless of their immigration status — would receive a stimulus payment. It also includes retroactive payments for mixed status families that were denied under the CARES act.

On June 25, 2020, senators Marco Rubio and Thom Tillis introduced the American Citizen Coronavirus Relief Act. This is an amendment to the CARES act that would provide retroactive stimulus payments for U.S. spouses who filed jointly with those who have an ITIN and payments for U.S. citizen children are in mixed families as long as one parent has a Social Security number.

Most recently on July 30, 2020, the Coronavirus Assistance for American Families (CAAF) Act was introduced by senators Mitt Romney, Steve Daines, Bill Cassidy and Marco Rubio. This act would give a $1,000 stimulus payment for all U.S. citizens as long as they filed a tax return, even if they filed jointly with someone who has an ITIN.

If the CAAF Act were passed, there would also be payments for dependents who are U.S. citizens that are part of a mixed status family, as long as one person filed using their Social Security number.

The HEROES, American Citizen Coronavirus Relief, and CAAF acts haven’t been signed into law yet — there is no certainty as to when or if they will be. Until then, do your best to see what you may qualify for under the CARES act, as well as understand your rights to receive other state and federal benefits such as unemployment insurance.