Buda Law Group wants to make sure that all our clients (existing and prospective) is staying safe and healthy during this challenging time. As the pandemic has affected all of us over the past few weeks and continue to impact our lives moving forward, BLG wants to assist you with all your immigration questions to provide a peace of mind on this difficult journey.
Many of the small businesses owners in the United States are foreign nationals who are temporary working in the U.S. on a work visa. We would like to provide some useful information to assist L1A, E2, H1Bs, and other nonimmigrant visa holders to understand their rights and benefits as doing business in the United States.
Can a U.S. Company with a Foreign National Employer Receive a Stimulus Check from the CARES Act?
During this unprecedented time in our modern history, the US government sets out a bipartisan relief package plan – the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Acts (CARES Act) to help individuals and small businesses. The CARES Act is by far the largest economic relief bill in the U.S. history and distributing $2.2 trillion dollars in direct financial assistance, including paid leave, unemployment insurance (UI) benefits, and rebates to eligible individuals. To help out small businesses, the CARES Act established several new temporary programs intended to provide financial relief during the Coronavirus pandemic, the programs include:
- Paycheck Protection Program
- EIDL Loan Advance
- SBA Express Bridge Loans
- SBA Debt Relief
As many small businesses owners are receiving benefits from the CARES Act, many employers holding a nonimmigrant visa are wondering if they could receive some payments, also referred to as “stimulus checks,” from the government. We understand that you may have questions, so we are here to help.
1. Does Foreign National Employer Qualify to Apply under the CARES Act?
The most attractive relief program is the Payment Protection Program which assists the employers to keep paying their employees for up to 8 weeks. The program was not designed to exclude any small business with a foreign national visa-holder owner. There is no restrictions based on owner’s legal status to obtain the benefits of this loan. Thus, small business owners who are permanent residents, U.S. citizens, and foreign nationals are all eligible to apply.
As of now, we have not seen or heard any evidence to indicate that the application process has been made more difficult for a foreign national owners in comparison to a U.S. citizen business owner due to their legal status in the U.S. Nevertheless, the borrower (small business owner) must still show sufficient documents to demonstrate that they meet the criteria set by this program and qualify under the eligibility threshold to obtain the loan amount.
2. Brief Introduction of the Relief Programs to Assist L1A Employer to Figure Out Which One(s) is Most Suitable to Apply
- Paycheck Protection Program – a loan designed to provide a direct incentive for small business to keep their workers on the payroll. This is created for the purpose of providing financial assistance to small businesses nationwide that have been adversely effected by the Covid-19 crisis. SBA will forgive loans if all employees are kept on the payroll for eight weeks and the money is used for payroll, rent, mortgage interest, or utilities. SBA lenders began accepting loan applications from small business owners on April 3, 2020 until June 30, 2020. It is definitely important for small business owners to contact their lenders and apply these loans as soon as possible.
- EIDL Loan Advance – Economic Injury Disaster Loan Emergency Advance, it is a loan advance providing up to $10,000 of economic relief to businesses that are currently experiencing temporary difficulties.
- SBA Express Bridge Loans – allows small businesses who currently have a business relationship with an SBA Express Lender to access up to $25,000 quickly. These loans can provide vital economic support to small businesses to help overcome the temporary loss of revenue they are experiencing and can be a term loans or used to bridge the gap while applying for a direct SBA Economic Injury Disaster loan. If a small business has an urgent need for cash while waiting for decision and disbursement on an Economic Injury Disaster Loan, they may qualify for an SBA Express Disaster Bridge Loan.
- SBA Debt Relief – As part of our coronavirus debt relief efforts, the SBA will pay 6 months of principal, interest, and any associated fees that borrowers owe for all current 7(a), 504, and Microloans in regular servicing status as well as new 7(a), 504, and Microloans disbursed prior to September 27, 2020. This relief is not available for Paycheck Protection Program loans or Economic Injury Disaster loans. Borrowers do not need to apply for this assistance. It will be automatically provided as follows:
- For loans not on deferment, SBA will begin making payments with the next payment due on the loan and will make six monthly payments.
- For loans currently on deferment, SBA will begin making payments with the next payment due after the deferment period has ended, and will make six monthly payments.
- For loans made after March 27, 2020 and fully disbursed prior to September 27, 2020, SBA will begin making payments with the first payment due on the loan and will make six monthly payments.
- SBA has notified 7(a), 504 and Microloan Lenders that it will pay these borrower loan payments. Lenders have been instructed to refrain from collecting loan payments from borrowers. If a borrower’s payment was collected after March 27, 2020, lenders were instructed to inform the borrower that they have the option of having the loan payment returned by the lender or applying the loan payment to further reduce the loan balance after SBA’s payment.
- Borrowers should contact their lender if they have any questions regarding this payment relief.
3. Are those Benefits Considered as Public Charge for I-129 Application?
As far as we know, those relief programs tailored to assist small businesses are not considered as a part of the public benefits under the rules provided by the USCIS.
The USCIS has a list of benefits that are considered as public charge, such as:
- Supplemental security income (SSI)
- Temporary assistance for needy family (TANF), commonly known as “welfare”
- State and local cash assistance, sometimes called “general assistance”
- Medicaid or other programs supporting long-term institutionalized care, such as in a nursing home or mental health institution
- Section 8 housing and rental assistance
- Federal housing subsidies
- Nonemergency Medicaid benefits
As you can tell, those benefits on the list relate to individual people, which means that the stimulus check received by small businesses are related to companies, not individuals. Thus, the small business relief program stimulus checks would not be part of the public charge.
Thus, as long as the U.S. entity is considered as a small business, then the funds received under CARES Act small business programs are not part of the public charge and the foreign national employers could apply for relief funds to help their business under the current situation.Read More