Are Immigrants Eligible for Benefits Under the CARES Act?

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Understanding Immigrant Eligibility for CARES Act Benefits

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act was an unprecedented response by the federal government to the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Implemented in March 2020, the CARES Act provided a range of benefits designed to stabilize the economy, including direct financial support to taxpayers, expanded unemployment benefits, and various forms of business assistance. For families across America, understanding the scope of this support—and who is eligible—has been critically important.

Within the CARES Act’s intricacies, questions frequently arise about whether immigrants are entitled to any of these benefits. The issue of eligibility is complex and depends on several factors, including immigration status, tax history, and the particular benefits in question.

At Andrew T. Thomas, Attorneys at Law, we pride ourselves on serving the immigrant community with experience, knowledge, and integrity. We recognize the challenges that come with navigating the U.S. immigration system, especially when it intersects with emergent legislation like the CARES Act.

If you are uncertain about your eligibility for CARES Act benefits or need legal immigration advice, we stand ready to offer professional, confidential assistance tailored to your specific circumstances.

Understanding the CARES Act

In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, understanding the implications of the CARES Act for immigrants is crucial for accessing due relief measures.

Overview of the CARES Act

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act was enacted on March 27, 2020, as a robust response to the economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Its primary purpose was to move federal funds to deliver financial support directly to American taxpayers, emphasizing those facing unemployment or business losses due to the pandemic.

Key components of the CARES Act include:

  • Providing stimulus checks of up to $1,200 for eligible individuals

  • Extending unemployment benefits, including an additional $600 per week under Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation

  • Offering financial assistance to businesses through loans and tax credits

Impact on Immigrants

We understand that in a few states, our immigrant clients are particularly concerned about their eligibility for benefits under the CARES Act.

The law’s provisions extend to individuals with a valid Social Security Number (SSN), which includes many immigrants:

  • U.S. citizens, green card holders, and certain immigration statuses that allow for work authorization are eligible for stimulus checks as long as they have an SSN.

  • Immigrants who file their taxes with an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) are not eligible for the stimulus checks despite paying taxes.

  • Mixed-status families, where some members have SSNs and others have ITINs, faced initial exclusion but were later addressed in subsequent relief measures.

Andrew T. Thomas, Attorneys at Law is ready to help you navigate these complex issues and provide clear guidance on the benefits you may be entitled to under the CARES Act.

We advocate passionately for the full rights of immigrants and ensure that no detail is overlooked when helping you claim the support that the CARES Act provides.

Eligibility Criteria for Immigrants

With extensive experience as advocates for immigration rights, we at Andrew T. Thomas, Attorneys at Law, understand the intricate nuances of eligibility criteria for immigrants under the CARES Act. We ensure that our clients are well-informed about their rights and opportunities.

General Eligibility Requirements

It is crucial for immigrants to comprehend that legal status plays a significant role in determining eligibility. Here, we outline the primary factors for consideration:

  • Legal Status: Generally, immigrants must hold a lawful permanent resident status or be considered a resident alien for tax purposes, which is determined by the Substantial Presence Test or by holding a green card.

  • Taxpayer Identification: To qualify for most benefits, individuals must have a Social Security Number (SSN) or an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN).

  • Tax Credit Eligibility: Eligibility for the stimulus payment is substantially tied to the income level as reflected in recent tax filings and the presence of a valid SSN.

Specific Benefits Available

Under the CARES Act, specific benefits have been outlined for eligible immigrants:

  • Stimulus Payments: Eligible immigrants may receive a one-time tax credit in the form of a stimulus check, with payment amounts that were based on income thresholds and family size.

  • Unemployment Benefits: Resident aliens who meet certain criteria may access expanded unemployment benefits if they have lost their job due to COVID-19-related issues.

  • Small Business Loans: Immigrant-owned businesses with proper documentation and legal status can apply for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and other small business loans.

It’s important to understand that unauthorized immigrants are typically not eligible for these benefits, including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF).

Challenges Faced by Immigrants

Navigating the complexities of the CARES Act, immigrants encounter various roadblocks, ranging from stringent documentation requirements to the pervasive spread of misinformation. These hurdles can significantly impact their access to much-needed financial assistance.

Documentation and Legal Hurdles

Legal status and documentation are pivotal in determining eligibility for CARES Act benefits for immigrants.

Many immigrants lack the necessary legal documents, hindering their access to citizenship and immigration services and their ability to apply for and receive assistance.

Some of the common legal barriers include status limitations and a complex public charge rule, which can be misinterpreted to mean that seeking public benefits may jeopardize future immigration applications or status adjustments.

At Andrew T. Thomas, Attorneys at Law, we assist clients in understanding these legal requirements. Our team can guide you through the process, helping you collect and lawfully present the necessary documentation while navigating the policies to maintain your immigration compliance.

Misinformation and Fear

Misinformation regarding the CARES Act can generate fear among immigrant communities, with many concerned that accepting financial assistance could affect their current or future, regardless of immigration status.

Additionally, in immigrant populations in cities like New York City and California, there’s a palpable concern that engaging with governmental programs may expose them to immigration enforcement.

By offering reliable, professional advice, we aim to dispel fears and misconceptions about the CARES Act and its implications on your immigration journey.

Our commitment is to ensure you have the accurate information needed to make informed decisions without jeopardizing your legal status.

How Andrew T. Thomas, Attorneys at Law in Dallas, Can Help

At Andrew T. Thomas, Attorneys at Law, we stand ready to assist immigrants with the specific challenges they face under the CARES Act, ensuring they receive the legal support necessary to access benefits.

Legal Assistance for Work Permits

We help clients obtain or renew their Employment Authorization Document (EAD), a crucial step for immigrants seeking to meet the eligibility requirements for CARES Act benefits.

Individuals can lawfully work in the United States by securing work permits, a necessary factor in qualifying for federal aid programs. For detailed information on immigration work permits, our firm provides comprehensive guidance.

Guidance on Asylum and Other Immigration Matters

Our firm is committed to supporting those seeking asylum, aiming to assist clients through complex processes and protect their rights.

Our experience with immigration matters extends to federal agencies. We advise clients on how their status, including Temporary Protected Status and asylum, may affect their eligibility for federal benefits. As part of our services, we offer direction on qualifying for asylum, ensuring our clients are well-informed and prepared.

Navigating the Application Process

Understanding the intricacies of immigration law and federal benefit programs, our attorneys meticulously guide clients through the application process for CARES Act benefits.

We ensure every application meets the necessary documentation and eligibility criteria, striving to maximize the potential for success.

Our approach is professionally tailored to each individual’s circumstances, intending to assist our clients in achieving lawful permanent residence and working towards their American dream.


We at Andrew T. Thomas, Attorneys at Law in Dallas, recognize the complexities that the CARES Act has presented to immigrants.

Amidst the challenging times brought by the pandemic, the CARES Act offers various benefits, including unemployment insurance and stimulus payments. It’s essential to discern the eligibility criteria as they relate to immigration status, as they can greatly impact access to these benefits.

Eligibility for Immigrants:

  • Qualified immigrants may be eligible.

  • Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefits and stimulus payments are included.

  • The CARES Act interacts with federal and state law to determine eligibility.

Our commitment to immigrants is unwavering. We know the stakes are high, and it is crucial to remain informed about benefits under the CARES Act. With pride in our knowledge and integrity, we aim to guide you through these turbulent times.

Should you require detailed assistance or have questions on how the CARES Act may affect your immigration status, we encourage you to reach out. Our experienced team is prepared to provide confidential and professional guidance tailored to your unique circumstances.