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President Joe Biden sits down to sign the American Rescue Plan, a coronavirus relief package, in the Oval Office of the White House, on March 11, 2021. (AP) President Joe Biden sits down to sign the American Rescue Plan, a coronavirus relief package, in the Oval Office of the White House, on March 11, 2021. (AP)

President Joe Biden sits down to sign the American Rescue Plan, a coronavirus relief package, in the Oval Office of the White House, on March 11, 2021. (AP)

Tom Kertscher
By Tom Kertscher March 12, 2021

Most immigrants in US illegally aren't eligible for direct $1,400 stimulus checks

If Your Time is short

  • With some exceptions, only people who have a Social Security number can receive a $1,400 stimulus check for themselves.

  • The vast majority of immigrants who are in the country illegally don’t have a Social Security number. 

  • The law would still pay $1,400 for each of their dependents who has a Social Security number.

A widely shared Facebook post claims that people living in the country illegally will get payments from the $1.9 trillion coronavirus pandemic relief package.

The post states: "Illegal aliens will receive $1,400 stimulus checks."

The post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)

One user commented in response: "Can someone fact check this?"

We did. Here’s what our fact-check finds: 

With a few exceptions, you must have a Social Security number to receive the $1,400 stimulus payments for yourself. (The exceptions are for dependents who have an adoption taxpayer ID and for people who are married to members of the military.)

Among noncitizens, generally, only those who are authorized to work in the United States by the Department of Homeland Security can get a Social Security number, including legal permanent residents.

The vast majority of people in the country illegally don’t have a Social Security number, so they wouldn’t qualify for payments for themselves, even if they met the income limits.

However, their dependents who have Social Security numbers will qualify for $1,400 payments.

Income rules for eligibility

Whether you are eligible for a direct payment, and how much, depends on the adjusted gross income you reported in the latest tax return you filed, either for 2019 or 2020. (Adjusted gross income is annual gross income minus certain deductions such as contributions to retirement accounts, alimony paid and educator expenses.)

Single tax return filers whose adjusted gross income was up to $75,000 are eligible for the full $1,400. A head of household whose adjusted gross income was up to $112,500 also gets the full amount. A couple who filed joint tax returns and had an adjusted gross income of up to $150,000 would get $2,800.

Taxpayers who meet those income criteria also get $1,400 per eligible dependent (including older children and adult dependents).

People who earned slightly more than the income caps still get a payment for themselves and their dependents, but not the full $1,400 per person.

Restrictions on eligibility

H.R.1319 says "any nonresident alien individual" is not eligible for the $1,400 stimulus check. That term refers to people who are not U.S. citizens or lawful residents.

And the law says recipients generally must have a Social Security number to qualify. 

Some foreign nationals and others who don’t have a Social Security number are issued an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number so they can pay U.S. income taxes. They are not eligible themselves for stimulus checks. But their dependents who have Social Security numbers, such as a U.S.-born child, would qualify.

If a couple files a joint tax return — one using an ITIN and another using a Social Security number — only the spouse and dependents who have Social Security numbers are eligible for a payment. (Under the rules of the first stimulus check offered, U.S. citizens were ineligible for a check if they filed a joint tax return with a spouse who used an ITIN.)

As was the case with previous stimulus payments, when a married couple files a joint return and at least one spouse is a member of the U.S. Armed Forces during the tax year for which the return is filed, the full $2,800 credit is allowed (if they meet income criteria) even if only one spouse has a Social Security number.

Our ruling

A Facebook post claimed: "Illegal aliens will receive $1,400 stimulus checks."

Under the law, with some exceptions, only people who have a Social Security number can receive a $1,400 stimulus check for themselves. The vast majority of immigrants who are in the country illegally don’t have a Social Security number.

The law would still pay $1,400 for each of their dependents who has a Social Security number.

The statement contains an element of truth, but leaves out important context that would give a different impression. We rate it Mostly False.

Browse the Truth-O-Meter

More by Tom Kertscher

Most immigrants in US illegally aren't eligible for direct $1,400 stimulus checks

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