As an immigrant to the U.S., immigration status is one of the most important issues that you will deal with. This is the reason why it’s so crucial that you understand the different types of immigration statuses. The best way to do this is to consult with a reputable immigration attorney.
As a top immigration attorney in Pasadena, here at Nelson and Associates, we make every effort to be sure that you are not only properly represented and understand the immigration process, but we also make sure that you understand your current situation. This includes understanding what your current immigration status is and the options available to you.
Immigration Status: The Different Type of Immigration Statuses
Undocumented immigrants are immigrants who enter the United States without the appropriate documentation or who enter the United States with the proper documentation but overstay the expiration date of those documents. When people refer to “illegal immigrants” they are referring to undocumented immigrants. Immigrants in the U.S. who are here illegally are not legally allowed to work and are not permitted access to any public benefits (for example, health care or a driver’s license).
Undocumented immigrants can have deportation procedures started against them or can be deported at any time.
When we talk about non-immigrants, we are talking about immigrants who are in the United States on a temporary basis and not approved to live in the country permanently. Some examples of individuals with this type of immigration status include:
- Fiancees in the country on K-1 visa’s
- Students in the country on F-1 visa’s
- Business visitors or tourists in the country on B1 or B2 visa’s
- Individuals who have been granted a temporary protected status
As a non-immigrant, it is important not to overstay the expiration date of your visa paperwork, if you do this you become an undocumented immigrant or an illegal immigrant.
Permanent or Conditional Residents
A permanent resident is an immigrant who has a green card. A green card allows an immigrant to live and work in the United States on a permanent basis. There are a couple of ways that you can gain permanent residency in the United States. You can be sponsored by a family member or employer in the U.S., you can be granted refugee or asylee status or be granted eligible status through humanitarian programs. There are some instances when you may be eligible to file for permanent residence for yourself but you should consult an immigration attorney if you have questions about this type of filing.
A conditional resident is an immigrant who has been married for less than two years prior to receiving their green card. One of the terms of being granted conditional residency is that both spouses file jointly to remove the condition on residency within two years of receiving a green card. If you and your spouse do not file to remove the condition on your residency within the two year period your conditional residency will be terminated and you risk being deported.
Both conditional and permanent residents of the U.S. are permitted to live and work permanently in the U.S. unless they have been convicted of a serious criminal offense or immigration violation. As a resident in the U.S., you are also able to petition for the legal status of your child or spouse.
As the holder of a green card you are eligible to apply for U.S. citizenship after a designated period of time. It’s important to know, however, that just because you have been granted permanent residency, you are not guaranteed citizenship.
U.S. citizens are individuals who were born in the United States and thus citizens of the U.S. Immigrants may become U.S. citizens, however, by being naturalized after being permanent residents in the United States for three or five years. As a U.S. resident, you are eligible to receive health care benefits as well as able to work legally in the United States. As a citizen, you can also petition for a child, spouse, parent, or sibling to obtain their legal status in the U.S.
As a U.S. citizen, there is no possibility that you are going to be deported unless your U.S. citizenship was obtained through fraud.
How an Immigration Attorney Can Help With Your Immigration Status
If you are struggling to understand immigration statuses or just need assistance in filing the correct paperwork for your immigration status, an immigration attorney can help. Here at Nelson and Associates, we have assisted many immigrants in pursuing their visa, permanent residence and citizenship within the U.S. and we’d be happy to help you too. We can help with translations, clarifications, making deadlines, appealing decisions, and more. With the right guidance, you can make it through the immigration process with as little trouble and as few complications as possible.
Do You Have Immigration Status Questions?
If you are an immigrant living in the United States and you have questions about immigration and immigration status, Nelson and Associates can help. To make an appointment for your consultation with attorney Franklin Nelson, just dial 626-683-3451 today. Don’t speak English fluently? Don’t worry, we have translators available who can help!