There is no one type of immigrant status, and anyone who immigrates to the United States falls into one of four categories. The immigration statuses that an immigrant can fall into are citizen, resident, non-immigrant, and undocumented immigrant.

When applying to enter the United States, the applicant will have to choose one of these four categories. This is not a permanent decision, as, reliability allowing, it is possible to move from the initially selected category into one you find more favorable.

Can I Apply for Citizenship?

Even if you were born and have lived your whole life outside of the United States, under certain circumstances, you may still be able to apply directly for citizenship when you immigrate. To be eligible, one of your parents must be a citizen. You will need to prove the status of your parent as part of your application process and that you are their child.

Once you submit your parent’s ID card, birth certificate, or driver’s license, and all documents have been verified and approved; you will receive your visa to enter the U.S. as a citizen. You will be granted all the rights and privileges to which any other U.S. citizen is entitled.

What are Residents?

A lawful permanent resident (often referred to as residents or LPRs) is someone who receives a green card upon entry into the United States. Residents have the right to live in the U.S. indefinitely and can qualify for citizenship after four years of continuous stay. An LPR can work and pay taxes, vote, and participate in some social services.

There are different types of green cards, such as family-based, employment-based, or humanitarian. Someone hoping to gain residency must apply for a green card and go through an application process that involves fees, having their biometrics taken, and having medical exams conducted. Once approved, a green card is issued, and the resident is privy to all the rights that go with it.

What are Non-immigrants?

Non-immigrants are those who are living and working in the U.S. on a temporary basis. Non-immigrants are issued temporary visas that are valid for a set period of time, meaning this immigration status is for those who do not intend to stay in the county on a permanent basis. Temporary visas are valid anywhere from one month to ten years and are issued for activities such as tourism, visiting family within the United States, or for medical purposes.

What are Undocumented Immigrants?

Undocumented Immigrants are those who have entered the country illegally or without the proper permission. Those who stay after their temporary visa expires are also considered undocumented. Those who fall into this category do not have access to the benefits that other immigrants do, such as health insurance or the right to work or reside in the country legally. Unlike any of the different types of immigrants, someone who is undocumented can face deportation at any time, whether or not they have lived in the United States for many years or committed any violent offenses.

For any questions you have about immigration statuses and for which type you may be eligible, call an experienced Californian immigration attorney now at (408) 645-6395.