Ineligibility for Cash Assistance/Recovery Rebate: A Social Security Number (SSN) is the main criteria for determining eligibility for the recovery rebate. Individuals who use Individual Tax Identification Numbers (ITIN) are excluded from the direct cash assistance. Physical presence in the U.S. is also considered for eligibility as “non-resident aliens” are ineligible. For example, undocumented people are excluded because they do not have SSNs and so are people who have certain nonimmigrant/temporary visas, including tourist visas, student visas and consular visas. Some non-immigrants like H1-B and L workers do qualify if they live here for more than 6 months per year. There is uncertainty in how the IRS will manage the situation of households where neither parent has a SSN, but their child/children do. 

Ineligibility for Unemployment Insurance: Noncitizens who lack work authorizations or who were not “authorized” to work while they were working are ineligible. It remains to be seen whether the Department of Labor will designate that state unemployment insurance eligibility rules will apply or alternative federal criteria.

Public Charge: Neither the cash assistance/recovery rebate or the unemployment insurance will count for public charge purposes. However, having a low income and/or having a poor history of employment can be used as negative factors.

Ineligibility for Medicaid State Option for Coronavirus Testing for the Uninsured: Previous welfare laws enacted in 1996 prevent undocumented individuals from getting any non-emergency Medicaid services.

Other Immigrant-related CARES Act Provisions: 

  • No new funds are included for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) or Customs and Border Protection (CBP).
  • Transfer and reprogramming restrictions attached to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to prevent the use of funds from advancing an anti-immigrant agenda. Prevents DoD from diverting funds to build a wall at the southern border.
  • $350 million for “Migration and refugee assistance” under the Department of State. This funding will extend life-saving services to refugees and displaced persons living in refugee- host countries to prevent and respond to COVID-19 outbreaks. This allocation is critical to ensure that the necessary services, including medical, shelter, food, clothing, etc. are provided to these populations, and should target particularly vulnerable camps, shelters, encampments, and peri-urban settlements.