Those $1,200 Checks and Unemployment Insurance for Nonimmigrants

By David North on April 13, 2020

Topic Page: Covid-19 and Immigration

When it comes to those $1,200 checks from the government for disaster relief, which aliens will get them and the associated unemployment insurance checks?

Well, like the rest of the immigration business it is complicated; one size does not fit all.

As far as I can tell regarding the $1,200 checks for individuals called for in the CARES Act, this is the situation:

  • Green card holders, otherwise eligible, will get the checks;
  • So will certain classes of nonimmigrants, described below;
  • So will illegal aliens holding Social Security numbers (SSNs) issued to someone else, though the government does not admit this; while
  • Other groups of nonimmigrants will not get the checks, nor will illegal aliens without SSNs.

As far as the third group above goes, government documents act as if people with SSNs are all legally present in the United States. Most are, of course, but the minority who successfully misuse SSNs issued to others seems to be a population unknown to the government, as we have pointed out previously.

The nonimmigrants who will get these benefits, assuming they are otherwise eligible in terms of not having too much income, include refugees, many temporary workers, and those with either DACA credentials or who are in Temporary Protected Status (TPS). Foreign students, tourists, and diplomats will not get these benefits.

I have seen nothing in writing on the eligibility of treaty traders and investors or aliens in the various exchange programs. The best single document on these matters, upon which much of the above is based, is a report from the Congressional Research Service.

If the distinctions above seem complicated, they are relatively simple compared to those used in the unemployment insurance program, which involve both federal and state rules, and several different types of benefits, none of which has been spelled out thoroughly. For more on those details see the CRS report.