Do International Students Qualify for COVID-19 Stimulus Checks?

Updated on March 6, 2024

At a Glance

  • Stimulus checks offer financial aid during the COVID-19 pandemic to eligible individuals.
  • Non-immigrants with an H1B visa and a valid SSN qualify, as do F1 visa holders who have filed tax returns.
  • Eligibility criteria include having a valid SSN and filing tax returns.
  • Check the amount of the stimulus check, which depends on income and filing status, and expect distribution through direct deposits or physical checks.

There are tough times for everyone in the world right now. COVID-19 is putting a stop to everything, and because of that, many people are left without jobs. Luckily, financial aid is offered in the form of stimulus checks, and even F1 visa holders can get one. However, what are the eligibility criteria for a stimulus check, and how much can you get? You can find that out, as well as other information in the paragraphs below.

COVID-19 Stimulus Checks and Non-Immigrants

Stimulus checks come as a form of financial aid during the COVID-19 pandemic. Depending on your income, you can get a specific amount of money. Still, if you’re a non-immigrant, you may be wondering whether you can receive this help or not.

Thankfully, there are ways for non-immigrants to get a stimulus check. If you’re someone with an H1B visa or a dependent of someone with this type of visa, you may be on the list of people who are going to receive this financial aid. That’s not all, though. To be eligible, you need to be a non-immigrant with an SSN.

Additionally, you should have filed your tax returns as well. Meeting all of these requirements will make you eligible for the stimulus check, even as a non-immigrant.

Do F1 Visa Holders Qualify for COVID-19 Stimulus Checks?

F1 visa holders can be eligible to receive a stimulus check but only based on certain conditions. Just like with the H1B category, you need a valid SSN, but you should have also filed your tax return already.

That being said, if you have no problem with any of these requirements, you will qualify for a COVID-19 stimulus check. You will be categorized as a “Resident Alien” by the IRS.

What Is the Eligibility Criteria to Receive a COVID-19 Stimulus Check?

Before you wonder why your stimulus check may have not arrived yet, you need to know what makes you eligible for it. How does one qualify for this financial aid in the first place?

General COVID-19 Stimulus Check Criteria

Only citizens that meet specific requirements will qualify for a stimulus check during the coronavirus pandemic. If you don’t meet them, you will not get any form of financial help. Every U.S. citizen must abide by these rules, including children. Yes, children may qualify as well – and this will grant you a higher amount of cash.

To be eligible for a COVID-19 stimulus check, you must have a valid Social Security Number (SSN). Otherwise, you will not be taken into consideration for this aid. While children can be SSN owners as well, that alone doesn’t grant them the money. As a parent, you need to be the one to hold an SSN, and it’s only in that case that the child will qualify for the check. If the child has an SSN and you don’t, they will not have access to the stimulus check.

Aside from this, you must have filed all your tax returns for 2019. If not, then your 2018 tax returns may be taken into consideration as well.

People with an ITIN will not qualify for this form of financial help. In addition, if you’re an H4 visa holder, then both you and the visa holder spouse that you filed taxes with should have a valid Social Security Number.

Substantial Presence Test and Stimulus Checks

Another thing that adds to your eligibility for a stimulus check is the amount of time you’ve been in the U.S. for. As a non-immigrant with a U.S. visa, you must have been in the U.S. for a specific amount of time if you want to qualify.

What is that amount of time? Well, if we’re talking about 2020, you must have been in the States for at least 21 days. Also, you should have been in the country for a total of 183 days within a 3-year period. As such, for the possibility of getting a stimulus check, one must have been in the U.S. in 2018, 2019 and 2020, in order to cover the number of necessary days within the last 3 years.

Your stay should cover the physical presence for the entire 2020 period, as well as an additional 4 months in 2019 and 1/6 in 2018. As long as you meet the requirements for this specified amount of time, then the stimulus check can be yours.

When Will H1B COVID-19 Stimulus Checks Arrive?

Stimulus direct deposits started being distributed on April 15 with physical checks to follow, so most people probably got their financial help already. The deposits have been sent in big amounts. Even though so many deposits have been made already, the distribution is going to continue until September 2020. Didn’t get yours yet? Don’t panic – you should just wait a few more weeks, and it should arrive.

However, you should make sure to check that you’re actually eligible for a stimulus check before expecting one and being disappointed when it doesn’t arrive. Check the eligibility criteria and see if you qualify or not. If there’s no issue with your eligibility, then try waiting for longer. In the end, it should be sent your way.

This financial aid is a one-time payment, so do not expect to get something like this every month. The money is meant to help you deal with the coronavirus situation and the hard times it has brought upon us.

How Much Money Should F1 Visa Holders Expect from Their Stimulus Check?

Depending on your situation, you will receive a specific amount of money. For instance, most people should receive a $1,200 payment, but married couples will get $2,400 as long as they do not depend on another taxpayer and they also have a valid SSN. The adjusted gross income should be up to:

  • For individuals – $75,000
  • For the head of household filers – $112,500
  • For married couples that file joint returns – $150,000

Meanwhile, taxpayers will get a reduced payment if they have an AGI between:

  • $75,000 and $99,000 for people who file single or file separately if married
  • $112,500 and $136,500 for the head of household
  • $150,000 and $198,000 for people whose filing status was married filing jointly

How to Receive Your COVID-19 Stimulus Check

As mentioned previously, stimulus checks already started being distributed on April 15. Therefore, the majority of people already got the money deposited in their U.S. bank accounts. Still, there is the possibility that you didn’t receive your money deposit yet, and that could be because you didn’t file your federal tax returns.

You will not be left without your cash, though. Physical checks will follow for people who haven’t filed their federal tax returns, or who didn’t receive any federal tax refund in their bank account throughout the last year. You will have to look in the mail, as that’s where you will get it, especially if you didn’t provide any information about direct deposits on tax returns.

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F1 visa holders will have the possibility to get their stimulus checks, but only if they meet the requirements. Before you wait for your financial help and get angry when it’s late, make sure you’re eligible for one in the first place. If you didn’t get your deposit, maybe you’ll get your check in the mail.

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Frank Gogol

I’m a firm believer that information is the key to financial freedom. On the Stilt Blog, I write about the complex topics — like finance, immigration, and technology — to help immigrants make the most of their lives in the U.S. Our content and brand have been featured in Forbes, TechCrunch, VentureBeat, and more.

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