Tag Archives: Coronavirus

Can Immigrants Receive Recovery Rebates under the CARES Act?

Thee  (CARES) Act of March 27, 2020, provides $2 trillion in direct financial assistance, including paid leave, unemployment insurance benefits, and rebates to eligible individuals.  Immigrants and foreign nationals in the United States may be eligible for some or all of these benefit, depending on the circumstances.  Specifically, the CARES Act provides for the issuance of one-time payments, called recovery rebates (or commonly referred to as “stimulus checks”) to help individuals recover from the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Eligible individuals with an adjusted gross income up to $75,000 can receive a one-time payment of $1,200. Married couples filing a joint tax return are eligible to receive a payment of $2,400, as long as their adjusted gross income is less than $150,000. Eligible individuals can also receive an additional $500 for each eligible child under the age of 17. Reduced amounts will be issued to individuals making up to $99,000 per year, or up to 198,000 for married couples). The recovery rebate is to be automatically advanced to eligible individuals in 2020 based on their 2019 federal income tax return. For eligible individuals who did not file a 2019 return, the rebate is to be automatically advanced based on 2018 tax return information.

Who Is Eligible for the CARES Recovery Rebate?

Only individuals with valid Social Security numbers and people who qualify as “resident aliens” as defined by the IRS are eligible to receive the payment. Non-U.S. citizens are considered nonresident aliens unless they meet one of two tests set forth by the IRS: the green card test or the substantial presence test.

Green Card Test:Lawful permanent residents of the United States are considered resident aliens if they were lawful permanent residents at any time during the calendar year.

Substantial Presence Test:A foreign national is considered a “resident alien” if he or she meets the substantial presence test for the calendar year. To meet this test, an individual must have been physically present in the United States for a designated minimum threshold period outlined by the IRS. Note that the IRS exempts certain nonimmigrant visa statuses from the physical presence calculation, such as individuals temporarily present in the U.S. under a F, J, M, or Q visa. Most work-authorized immigration statuses, such as H-1B, L-1, O-1, and TN, are not exempted and may be able to meet the substantial presence test.

Importantly, those who file their taxes using an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) are not eligible for a recovery rebate. Moreover, under the CARES Act, eligible individual with a Social Security number will not receive the recovery rebate, if the individual filed a joint return with a spouse who has an ITIN, or filed a return with a qualifying child who has an ITIN. There is a limited exception for adopted children and military families. Sinconly foreign nationals with U.S. work authorization may apply for SSNs, this excludes broad categories of foreign nationals who are otherwise lawfully present in the United States, including but not limited to spouses and children of some H-1B visa holders.

Thus, many H-1B and other work-authorized nonimmigrants will not be eligible for a recovery rebate if they filed a joint income tax return with a spouse who does not have, a social security number. For example, an H-1B worker whose H-4 spouse is not eligible for a social security number, and who filed a joint income tax return with his or her H-4 spouse, will not be eligible for a recovery rebate.

Will Receiving a CARES Recovery Rebate Impact an Immigration Application under the Public Charge Rule?

The recovery rebates are structured as automatically advanced tax credits to be disbursed by the Treasury Department. The DHS Final Rule on Inadmissibility on Public Charge  clear that tax credits are not  taken into account for the purpose of a public charge determination.. Similarly, the Department of State Interim Final Rule indicates that for the purposes of defining “public benefit”, cash assistance for income maintenance does not include tax credits.

Therefore, if you are a non US citizen, eligible for a recover rebate under the CARES Act, such a benefit would not impact your application for immigration benefit under the public charge rule, even though you may have to disclose the receipt of such benefit on an immigration application.

 

Ireland: Immigration Authorities Respond to COVID-19

The Garda National Immigration Bureau (GNIB) has provided several recent updates for visitors and foreign residents in Ireland in the wake of COVID-19 closures, and travel bans. GNIB offices are now closed and all permits expired between March 20 and May 20 have been automatically extended for 60 days. Continue reading Ireland: Immigration Authorities Respond to COVID-19

COVID-19 Immigration Agency Suspensions and Cancellations 3/29/2020 Update

The Duane Morris Immigration Team is dedicated to providing the most up to date information and zealous advocacy on behalf of our clients during the COVID-19 emergency.  Below we have compiled information from various U.S. agencies on all aspects of travel, USCIS appointments, ICE activities and Removal Proceedings. This post will be updated as changes develop. Duane Morris has developed a COVID-19 Strategy Team which is providing regular updates on all business and employment related matters impacted by the COVID -19 pandemic. A second webinar on Business Continuity Planning for a Pandemic will be held on Wednesday, March 18. To register, click here.

Continue reading COVID-19 Immigration Agency Suspensions and Cancellations 3/29/2020 Update

USCIS Announces I-9 and E-Verify Timing Waivers and Modifications in the wake of COVID-19

COVID-19 social distancing directives, State and Federal agency closures and remote work requirements have made it impossible for employers to comply with the normal I-9 and E-Verify regulations on timing and review of employee documents. To address these concerns, USCIS has announced several measures to extend time frames and loosen its normally strict requirements. In this blog, we discuss USCIS suspension of the I-9 requirement to review physical documents,  an automatic 60 day extension for all I-9 audit responses, acceptance of expired documents for new hires who are unable to update driver licenses and state IDs, as well as E-verify suspension of the 8 day response time for responding to Tentative Nonconfirmations. Continue reading USCIS Announces I-9 and E-Verify Timing Waivers and Modifications in the wake of COVID-19

South Africa Bans Tourists and Implements Immigration Procedures for those Unable to Leave the Country in wake of COVID-19

The South Africa Minister of Department of Home Affairs released a Directive clarifying the implementation of COVID-19 Epidemic travel ban and associated restrictions.  Tourist visas normally issued upon entry have been suspended,  visas of Chinese and Iranian nationals revoked, and most travelers banned. For those unable to leave the South Africa, visas will be extended until July 31, 2020. Continue reading South Africa Bans Tourists and Implements Immigration Procedures for those Unable to Leave the Country in wake of COVID-19

Switzerland Responds to COVID-19; Travel Restrictions and Immigration Processing Limitations

In order to maintain Switzerland’s capacity to cope with the COVID 19 epidemic, and in particular to guarantee the conditions for an adequate supply of care and therapeutic products to the population, the Federal Council issued exceptional entry restrictions at the border on 13 March 2020 and has updated these on 25 March 2020. In this connection, and in light of the fact that several airlines have in between ceased operations on certain routes, the State Secretariat for Migration has issued instructions to the cantonal migration authorities, Swiss representations abroad and the border security authorities. Continue reading Switzerland Responds to COVID-19; Travel Restrictions and Immigration Processing Limitations

Luxembourg COVID-19 Travel Ban and Entry Restrictions

Third-country nationals are no longer permitted to enter the territory of the Grand Duchy. The restriction was put in place, initially, for a one month period starting on March 18, 2020.  There are several exemptions from this ban, which are discussed below, including for  Belgian, French, and German cross-border workers. Continue reading Luxembourg COVID-19 Travel Ban and Entry Restrictions

What is the Meaning of the US- Canada and US-Mexico Temporary Border Closures due to the COVID19 Pandemic?

To limit the further spread of Coronavirus, the United States entered into joint initiatives with Canada and Mexico to temporarily close its Northern and Southern borders for all non-essential travel, effective March 21, 2020, for a 30-day period.  Essential commercial activity will not be impacted. Please read on for a helpful FAQ on these provisions. Continue reading What is the Meaning of the US- Canada and US-Mexico Temporary Border Closures due to the COVID19 Pandemic?

Canada Immigration Information on Closure of Land Border with the United States

  • Effective 11:59 p.m. EDT last night, the Canada-U.S. land border closed to all non-essential travel. This closure will initially be in effect for 30 days. Non-essential travel includes travel for tourism or recreational purposes. Trade and commerce will continue. The definition of what constitutes “essential” travel remains open to interpretation. Minister Blair today referred to “essential” as serving and keeping Canadians healthy and safe. If you are concerned as to whether your employees’ upcoming travel would be considered “essential”, please contact us to discuss. Please also refer to 2. below for details about further developments which are expected to become effective next week. The official statement from the Prime Minister’s Office can be found at https://bit.ly/2J0DJiD

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USCIS Suspends Premium Processing for all I-129s and I-140s

USCIS announced at 2:19 PM on 3/20/2020 that Premium Processing services for I-129 (E-1, E-2, H-1B, H-2B, H-3, L-1A, L-1B, LZ, O-1, O-2, P-1, P-1S, P-2, P-2S, P-3, P-3S, Q-1, R-1, TN-1 and TN-2.) and I-140 (EB-1, EB-2 and EB-3) is suspended temporarily.  Like many of us, USCIS service center operations have gone remote, so it is impossible for the agency to keep up with the demand for premium processing of applications. Continue reading USCIS Suspends Premium Processing for all I-129s and I-140s