The US is full of opportunities in terms of professional and personal aspirations. However, to lawfully emigrate here from another country, you’ll have to go through an immigration process. As you go through the process, you can fall into one of four types of immigration status, most likely resident or non-immigrant. Keep reading to learn what these are so you can better understand the process and your eventual status.
Born or Naturalized Citizen
A citizen is someone who was either born in the United States or went through the process of naturalization to become a citizen. Once someone becomes a US citizen, they enjoy certain benefits such as voting or obtaining a US passport. Additionally, being a US citizen means that you can reside in the US without the risk of deportation and easily return after travel abroad. You can also sponsor loved ones, such as spouses and children, to help them reside in the US.
Resident or Green Card Holder
A resident is someone who has lawful permanent residency, often referred to as a green card. This means that they are authorized to live and work in the US permanently. Permanent residents are required to maintain their residency status by avoiding certain criminal activity and regularly renewing their green card. While permanent residents have many of the same rights as citizens, such as sponsoring other immigrants, there are limitations.
A non-immigrant is someone who has permission to temporarily stay in the United States for a specific purpose, such as studying or working. Some examples of non-immigrant visas include H-1B visas for specialty occupations or F-1 visas for students. Non-immigrants must abide by the terms of their visas and leave the US once their authorized stay has ended. They can also change visas, such as someone on a student visa changing to a fiancé visa if they plan to marry a US citizen.
Undocumented immigrants are individuals who are living in the United States without proper legal authorization. They may have entered the country without inspection or have overstayed their authorized period of stay. While undocumented immigrants are not necessarily considered criminals, they are subject to deportation if caught. Additionally, undocumented immigrants are unable to work legally or receive certain benefits, such as Medicaid or Medicare.
Each of the four types of immigration statuses comes with different rights and responsibilities, and it’s important to understand which option suits your needs best. If you are unsure which status applies to you or are seeking legal assistance, Gahagan Law is an immigration law firm that can help your case. We can help with various visas, as well as deportation defense and federal litigation.