Mixed-status families qualify for the third stimulus check. Here's what that means

The new stimulus law includes mixed-status families who missed out on the first two stimulus checks.

Clifford Colby Managing Editor
Clifford is a managing editor at CNET, where he leads How-To coverage. He spent a handful of years at Peachpit Press, editing books on everything from the first iPhone to Python. He also worked at a handful of now-dead computer magazines, including MacWEEK and MacUser. Unrelated, he roots for the Oakland A's.
Expertise Tech from browser security to password managers and government programs from mail-in voting to federal assistance
Clifford Colby
3 min read

Third stimulus checks will go to more families with mixed-status citizenship.

Sarah Tew/CNET

With the $1.9 trillion stimulus bill signed into law by President Joe Biden on Thursday, the third stimulus checks of up to $1,400 per person will be out the door and on their way to millions as soon as this weekend. This time, the stimulus package includes families who are in a mixed-status household, which many were left out of the first two rounds of checks.

The move to qualify mixed-status families for the new stimulus check opens the door for millions more to receive a payment. The National Immigration Forum estimates that 16.2 million people in the US live in mixed-status families.

We'll help you understand the eligibility requirements for households where at least one person isn't a US citizen. We'll also explain the IRS definition, which families did and didn't qualify for the first two payments and how qualifications have changed with the third stimulus check. Here's how to track your payment and what we know about setting up direct deposit for your check. This story was recently updated.

What a mixed-status family means for stimulus payments

The federal government categorizes families whose members have different citizenship and immigration classifications as "mixed status." Note that for a mixed-status family to qualify for stimulus money, one member needs to have a Social Security number. A household where every family member is a resident or nonresident alien with an ITIN, or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number, instead of a Social Security number wouldn't meet this requirement. 

Here are some examples of mixed-status families that would qualify for a stimulus check, where at least one household member has a Social Security number:

  • One spouse is a US citizen with a Social Security number and the other spouse isn't a citizen and doesn't have a Social Security number.
  • One spouse is a "lawful permanent resident" with a Social Security number and the other isn't a citizen and doesn't have a Social Security number.
  • Neither parent is a US citizen or "lawful permanent resident" with a Social Security number, and a child is a US-born citizen with a Social Security number.

We have a handy guide laying out the ways noncitizens may and may not qualify for payments.

Watch this: Second stimulus checks: Everything you need to know

What does the third stimulus check do for mixed-status families?

Biden's $1.9 trillion stimulus package includes a third stimulus check for $1,400 per person. This third round of payments expands eligibility to "citizen spouses and children living in mixed-status families." According to the bill (PDF), the amount families could expect is "$1,400 if the valid identification number of only one spouse is included on the return of tax for the taxable year."


Mixed-status families can qualify for stimulus money.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Which mixed-status households were eligible for the first and second payments?

With the first stimulus check from the CARES Act, only those with a Social Security number qualified for a payment. This eligibility requirement could include "resident aliens" with a Social Security number, the IRS said. But "nonresident aliens" weren't eligible. Married couples filing jointly were excluded from checks if one spouse didn't have a Social Security number. For married couples who filed separately, only the spouse with the Social Security number qualified. Dependents in a mixed-status family were also excluded.

With the second check, Congress opened up the requirements (PDF) to married couples filing jointly where one spouse has a Social Security number and the other spouse doesn't. A couple in a mixed-status household filing jointly would be eligible for a second payment of $600, as would each eligible dependent with a Social Security number. If the couple file separately, only the spouse who has a Social Security number would be eligible.

December's stimulus bill also made the mixed-status qualifications retroactive for the first payments. Now an eligible family filing jointly can claim missing first-round payments of up to $1,200 per couple and $500 for each qualifying dependent on their taxes this year as a Recovery Rebate Credit.

For more information, here's the latest on the timeline for a third stimulus check, and how much money your household could expect to receive from a $1,400 payment.