By: Maria Schneider

Since the Covid-19 outbreak, many questions have arisen concerning government aid, its availability to foreign nationals, and the impact acceptance of various types of government aid will have on the public charge analysis. Below is a summary of the available government aid and information about its impact on foreign nationals’ immigration situation.

Testing, Treatment, and (Potential) Vaccination
  • Eligibility: Foreign nationals are eligible for testing, treatment, and any potential vaccine related to Covid-19.
  • Public Charge: Being tested, treated, or vaccinated for Covid-19 will not be considered in the public charge analysis. The USCIS has specifically stated that “testing, treatment, and preventative care (including vaccines, if a vaccine becomes available) related to COVID-19” will not be considered as part of a public charge determination.
CARES Act Stimulus
  • Eligibility: Foreign nationals may be eligible for the Cares Act stimulus if the foreign national has a social security number and is either (a) a permanent resident, a/k/a green card holder, or (b) has spent enough time in the US that the foreign national meets the IRS substantial presence test.
  • Individuals who have filed a tax return in 2018 and reported an Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) of up to $75,000 ($150,000 if married/filing jointly) may receive one‑time cash payments of $1,200 ($2,400 if married plus $500 per child). Those with an AGI over $99,000 ($198,000 for married couples) will not receive a payment. Some payments may be less for individuals with an income over $75,000 ($150,000 for married couples) but under $99,000 for individuals ($198,000 for married couples).
  • Public Charge: Accepting CARES Act stimulus payments will not be considered in the public charge analysis. Because the CARES Act stimulus payments are considered tax credits, they will not be considered under the public charge analysis. The public charge rule is clear that tax credits, including the Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit, are not taken into account for the purpose of the public charge rule.
Unemployment
  • Eligibility: Eligibility for unemployment varies from state to state. You should contact an employment law attorney in your state to determine if you are eligible for unemployment benefits.
  • Public Charge: Applying for and accepting unemployment will not be considered in the public charge analysis. The public charge rule explicitly states unemployment benefits are not considered “public benefits” under the public charge inadmissibility determination as unemployment is considered an earned benefits.