Can asylum seekers receive payments through the new COVID-19 stimulus law?

March 16, 2021

On March 11, 2021, the U.S. government passed a new “economic stimulus” law to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. The new law has many parts, and one part is to make direct payments to people in the United States who are eligible. This is the third time that the U.S. government has made direct payments to respond to COVID-19. Some asylum seekers can receive a payment under this law.

Who is eligible for the payment?
You may qualify to receive an “economic impact payment” if:

  1. Nobody else has claimed you as a dependent on their tax return, AND
  2. You have a valid social security number and an unexpired work permit, AND
  3. Your income is less than a certain amount.

Asylum seekers with a valid social security number and work permit can qualify for the payment, even if your spouse does not have a social security number. You can find the income limits and other information on the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) website here.

How much is the payment?
If you are eligible, you can automatically receive a payment of up to $1,400 if you are single, or up to $2,800 if you are a married couple. You can also receive up to $1,400 for each child.  The exact amount can vary depending on your income.

Who will automatically receive the payment?
The IRS will automatically send the third payment to eligible people who:

  1. already filed their 2020 taxes, OR
  2. filed 2019 taxes, OR
  3. registered to receive the first economic stimulus check last year using a special IRS portal.

If one of those three options applies to you, you do not need to do anything to receive the payment.

How can I receive the payment if those three options do not apply to me?
If you are eligible, but you did not do any of these three options, or you did not receive the first or second payments, you may still be able to receive all three economic stimulus checks. To do this, you can claim the payments as a “recovery rebate credit” when you file your 2020 taxes.

For more information about how to claim the recovery rebate credit for 2020, visit the IRS website here. You can also call this free hotline to find updated information about tax help centers in your area: 1-800-906-9887. You can read more about how to find help to file your taxes on ASAP’s website.

You can also read this article for more information.

For more information and resources from the Asylum Seeker Advocacy Project (ASAP) visit our website.

Note: This information is not intended to be taken as legal or tax advice and if you have questions you should consult the IRS website or a tax professional. Additionally, generally, this information is for individuals seeking asylum in the United States and is not a substitute for advice from an attorney.