Latest Immigration News – Stimulus Checks, H1B and Unemployment Benefits [May 2020]

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We cover the latest immigration news for the past week in the U.S.

U.S. citizens with immigrant spouses sue to get coronavirus checks they were denied, NBC News

Amidst the coronavirus pandemic, the Trump Govt released a stimulus check, offering $1200 only to the taxpaying U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents, while up to $2,400 to those filing joint tax returns.

Lawfully, only those people with a Social Security number are eligible to receive this coronavirus relief money. The law excludes immigrants paying taxes with an Individual Tax Identification Number.

Reportedly, spouses of U.S. citizens or permanent residents, who are not citizens of the U.S. and without a Social Security number, filing taxes jointly, are barred from receiving the coronavirus relief amount. Many such couples have filed lawsuits in Illinois to force the government to provide them with the relief amount.

Democrats, lawyers and the MALDEF have filed a separate lawsuit, demanding the coronavirus relief package to include immigrants paying federal taxes using the ITINs.

  • They have stated that depriving monetary assistance to U.S. citizens married to undocumented immigrants is against the fundamental constitutional rights.
  • MALDEF argues that the provision violates the fundamental right to marry. Doing so, shall be unfair to the citizen and their kids, who are lawfully American citizens.
  • While spouses of immigrants filing their taxes separately have received a stimulus check, the couples filing jointly for tax discounts, are deprived of this check.

They Lost Their Jobs. Now They May Have to Leave the U.S., The New York Times

About 36 million Americans have lost their jobs due to the coronavirus pandemic. There is another huge chunk of legal immigrant workers, working in the U.S. on foreign work visas, who have been heavily laid off, due to the pandemic.

However, unlike the U.S. citizens and green card holders, these foreign workers cannot enjoy unemployment benefits. On top of that, on losing their jobs, they must find another similar profile job in the next 60 days, else they’ll be deported.

Tens of thousands of laid-off foreign workers on H-1B, H-2B or work visas are terrified of being deported from the U.S., if they are unable to find jobs in the desired grace period of 60 days.

With over 500,000 H-1B visa holders in the US, many of them have been working here for as long as 10-15 years and are waiting in a backlog for becoming permanent residents, and are now facing the prospect of deportation.

The Trump administration is also expected within the next few weeks to halt the issuance of new work visas, like H-1B and H-2B. On April 22, Trump suspended the entry of new immigrants for 60 days.

COVID-19 Stimulus Checks: Who Has to Return The Money? 

As per the CARES Act, the IRS was to send out payments of $1,200 to qualifying individuals. However, after thousands of people reported that stimulus checks were sent out to dead relatives too, the IRS has now announced it will need to send this money back.

The individuals, who are to return their coronavirus stimulus checks include:

  • Family members of deceased individuals, the deceased person’s portion
  • The deceased person’s portion
  • Non-residents or non-qualifying residents were paid to

IRS updated its FAQ page on May 6, clarifying those who should be returning the stimulus checks. According to Money, many such relief checks despite being sent to dead people during the Great Recession, weren’t forced to return the money.

Similarly, the CARES Act contains no provision for demanding money if sent to a dead person, which means the IRS cannot retrieve the money once sent out.

For the ones wondering what shall happen if they do not return their stimulus checks to IRS, the Tax Foundation’s Garrett Watson suspects IRS to encourage people to stringently return payments distributed incorrectly. More details are required to affirm if the IRS will strongly pursue individuals legally over the payments.

Will Filing For Unemployment Hurt My Green Card? Legal Immigrants Are Afraid, NPR

Foreign nationals living and working in the U.S., backed up by the foreign visas are finding themselves in a rather precarious spot, especially at these times, when thousands of them have lost their jobs, due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Many of these lawful immigrants have applied for green cards, the process for which takes years to complete. Now, due to such sudden loss of jobs, these immigrants are terrified of being deported if they’re unable to find a new job soon.

The ones falling under the category of due applications for green cards are now occupied by dubious thoughts. New York-based immigration lawyer Tsui Yee informs that many immigrant workers, despite being eligible to apply for unemployment are scared to do so, fearful that it might jeopardize their immigration cases.

The underlying base of their worries is the new ‘public charge’ rule, which makes it more difficult for immigrants to receive a green card, if they are not financially backed up.

Right from his onset into the Presidency, Trump and his administration has made it immigration tougher, making significant changes to the immigration laws.

The $2,000 Second Stimulus Check: What Americans Say About It, Forbes

After the $1200 coronavirus stimulus check, Americans could be getting a second monthly stimulus check of $2,000. Speaker Pelosi expresses her commitment for another stimulus check and even monthly payments.

She believes that $1200 is simply inadequate in times like these, with unemployment levels continuously rising, recently reported to be 14.7%, along with an uncertainty about the market conditions to get better, complying to the Covid-19 pandemic situation.

However, unless the check isn’t passed through both Houses of Congress, followed by the approval and signature of President Trump, nothing can be assured.

While taking a poll of what Americans feel of another stimulus check, it was found out:

  • 84% want a second stimulus check, while 16% do not find it necessary.
  • 62% want this check to be sent to everyone, underemployed or unemployed.
  • 64% believe that they’ll run out of money in the next three months.

The proposal, ‘Emergency Money for the People Act’ is being discussed, as per which, monthly checks of up to:

  • $2,000 should be sent out to individuals,
  • $4,000 to married couples, and
  • $5,500 to families with children.

The more quickly the economy bounces back, the less likely it will be for Congress to act and vice-versa.