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Are expats eligible for the United States stimulus payments (CARES Act)?

There are a lot of questions about who gets money from the CARES Stimulus Act, and a lot of misinformation as well, so Shayne took some time to make sure that she'd done the research and can properly answer whether visa holders and green card holders are eligible for stimulus payments under the CARES Act.

Updated 4/10/2020 to clarify and correct the “But there's a catch!” section – Thanks Timmy B in the comments.

Updated 4/15/2020: You can now check the status of your payment with the IRS.

Shayne is a stay-at-home Mom in quarantine and took the time to do this research. I can't thank contributions from our community enough. Thanks very much Shayne, over to you!

First things first, please note that I am NOT an expert, accountant or lawyer. I have read the parts of the Bill pertaining to immigrants and I have sought professional advice so I am just passing on the information I have come to learn.

I am a visa holder, am I eligible for a payment?

The short answer is YES!

But there's one condition: You had to have filed either a 2018 or 2019 tax return and have a valid SSN.

If you haven't filed either of these and you are eligible to file for 2019 then you should do it ASAP to be able to receive the money. The Bill states that payments will be paid up until December 2020. So if you file before then you should be eligible to receive money.

But I read that non-resident Aliens are not eligible!

The Bill stipulates that a ‘non-resident Alien' will NOT be eligible, yes.

A non-resident, however, does NOT refer to someone who doesn't possess a green card. It refers to a resident in terms of tax purposes. So if you have a valid visa, have filed your 2018 or 2019 taxes as a resident and have a valid SSN you are eligible to get the money. [Quick aside from Josh: I've written about the confusing concepts of “residency” here for you to read – you can check whether you're qualified or not here]

I am a green-card holder, am I eligible for a payment?

Yes, everything above applies to you as well!

How much money am I eligible to get?

As with US Citizens, it depends on your income.

Single adults with a valid SSN who have an adjusted gross income of $75,000 or less will get the full amount of $1,200. Those earning more than $100,000 per year do not receive any amount (equation below).

Married couples with no children earning $150,000 or less will receive a total of $2,400. Those earning more than $198,500 per year do not receive any amount (equation below).

And taxpayers filing as head of household will get the full payment if they earned $112,500 or less. Those earning more than $136,000 per year do not receive any amount (equation below).

You will also receive $500 per child 17 years old and under.

For those who earn above this, there is an equation you can quickly do to work out how much you are able to receive: For every dollar, you earn over the amount listed above, divide it by 20, and subtract it from the full amount (5% of every dollar earned is reduced from the amount).

But there's a catch!

Isn't there always lol. While you will physically get the money now, technically, the cheques are a 2020 tax credit.

So, in other words, this will come out of your tax credits when you file in 2021 for the 2020 tax year. This all means you may get less back in your tax refund next year.

Not true! Thanks, Timmy B in the comments below for pointing this out:

The β€˜advance’ is in reference to a special tax credit that will appear on the tax return you file in 2021 for the 2020 tax year β€” a tax credit that wouldn’t have been there if it wasn’t for these stimulus checks.

The Internal Revenue Service is technically giving you some of your 2020 tax refund upfront but they are not subtracting it from your expected refund, the stimulus check will be in addition to what you would’ve otherwise expected.

This money is not considered income. It won’t be taxable and it won’t affect your income taxes for 2020.
So if your refund amount on your taxes is normally $2000 you will still get the $2000 when you file in 2021.
The tax credit is showing that actually you got a $3200 tax refund but $1200 was paid upfront.

How do I apply and when do I get the money?

You do not need to apply for it.

Cheques will be automatically sent to the address on your tax return. Or if you received your tax refunds before via a direct deposit (money right into your bank account), the money will go straight to your account.

There are no details on when exactly the money will be sent but they are saying sometime in May they will start to go out.

If you need to update your details with the IRS, you can do it here.

So I hope this clears up the questions you may have. Leave any questions in the comments below!

P.S. Here is a copy of the Bill if anyone wants some light reading ?

Thanks Shayne!

Josh Pugh

Josh Pugh

Josh is a business founding, digital marketing focused, charity driving, community builder from South Australia, living in New York City. After moving in 2017, Josh realized that there was an opportunity to curate and help the community of expats who moved to the United States – and launched America Josh. Josh is also the President of Variety – the Children's Charity of New York, Secretary at The Mateship Foundation, and Founder & CEO at Fortnight Digital.View Author posts

34 thoughts on “Are expats eligible for the United States stimulus payments (CARES Act)?”

  1. Hi, I m j2 visa holder with valid ssn and tax paid for 2019. Am Ielligible for Economic Impact Payments? Would be happy to hear from anyone, thank in advance.

  2. My husband, I am and our baby won the green cards and moved to USA on March 2nd. So we’re permanent residents but never worked in USA and never filed taxes before. Can we get Stimulus checks or not?

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