Congress Offers Help to Some Immigrants in 2020 Omnibus Bill

December 27, 2020 Congress passes, and President Trump signs, a spending package that funds various federal agencies into 2021, offers COVID relief to Americans whose income falls below certain limits, and extends various immigration programs that were about to expire.

** LEGAL UPDATE **

Just under the wire, in late December of 2020, Congress passed and President Trump signed a spending package that includes various provisions relevant to U.S. immigrants. It funds various federal agencies into 2021, offers COVID relief to American households whose income falls below certain limits (even if they contain some foreign-born persons without lawful status), and extends various immigration programs that were about to expire, namely the:

In addition, the new law allows the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to issue additional H-2B visas beyond the limit currently set by law, which is 66,000. This added allotment won't happen without DHS action, however, most likely in the form of a new regulation.

Finally, the new law authorizes COVID-19 stimulus checks to be issued to what are commonly referred to as "mixed status families." This means families where not everyone has lawful immigration status in the U.S., but where at least one family member files taxes with a valid Social Security number. The CARES Act had no such provision, so many mixed status families received no stimulus checks at all. This latest law provides them with retroactive relief, that is, a remedial stimulus payment.

Effective Date: December 27, 2020