By: Gladys Gervacio
Effective December 27, 2020, a new United States government spending package and COVID-19 relief bill extends immigration programs that were set to expire, increases the number of H-2B visas available, and provides COVID-19 stimulus relief to US taxpayers, including mixed immigration status families.
Extending US Immigration Programs
The following immigration programs have been extended by the spending package:
- EB-5 Regional Center Program: Through June 30, 2021.
- E-Verify: Through September 30, 2021.
- Non-minister Special Immigrant Religious Workers Program: Through September 30, 2021.
- Conrad-30: Through September 30, 2021.
- Liberian Refugee Immigration Fairness program: Through December 20, 2021 (filing deadline).
Relief for H-2B Visas
The Secretary of Homeland Security may now issue H-2B temporary non-agricultural work visas beyond the 66,000 limit for fiscal year 2021 if both DHS and the Department of Labor consider it necessary and DHS finds there are not enough qualified US workers to fill H-2B roles. Normally, the agency would be required to issue new regulation to authorize the additional visas. The number of H-2B visas issued cannot exceed the highest number of workers who participated in the now expired H-2B cap exemption program.
The bill also provides stimulus checks of $600 per individual, or $1,200 to couples married filing jointly, and $600 per child for families whose adjusted gross income is $75,000 or less for individuals, $150,000 or less for joint taxpayers, or $112,500 or less for the head of a household. These funds are structured as advance tax credits and are not considered a cash public benefit.
Foreign nationals are eligible to receive stimulus funds if they are:
- Green card holders or those that meet the substantial presence test for the calendar year,
- Nonimmigrants who pay US income taxes and are not listed as dependents on a tax return, or
- Members of families with mixed immigration status, where at least one member files taxes with a social security number. Social security numbers are required to claim funds for dependent children.
Families that did not receive a stimulus payment under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act are eligible to receive retroactive payment as well.
For help with case-specific questions, please contact your trusted Chugh, LLP attorney.
 AILA Doc. No. 20122212.