What are the four types of immigration? This is a question we were asked recently here at Nelson and Associates Immigration Law, so we decided to share our answer here so that you could learn a little more about the immigration system too.
What Are the Four Types Of Immigration?
When people ask “what are the four types of immigration?” what they actually mean is “what are the four immigration statuses?” and not “what are the four types of immigration?” The four immigration statuses include citizens, residents, non-immigrants, and undocumented immigrants.
A citizen is someone who pledges allegiance to the United States and who is given certain inalienable rights as granted by the United States Constitution.
There are two types of citizenship.
The first type of citizen is someone who was born in the United States and by their birthright, they are deemed to be an American citizen. Someone may also be born in a territory of the United States of America, for example, anyone born in Puerto Rico on or after January 13, 1941 is considered to be a U.S. Citizen by birth.
The second type of citizen is someone who becomes a citizen through the naturalization process. During the naturalization process, a person must meet specific criteria before they can be considered as a U.S. citizen.
Currently the USCIS requirements for someone to become a citizen through naturalization are as follows:
- Be at least 18 years of age at the time you file the application;
- Have been a lawful permanent resident for the past three or five years (depending on which naturalization category you are applying under);
- Have continuous residence and physical presence in the United States;
- Be able to read, write, and speak basic English;
- Demonstrate good moral character;
- Demonstrate a knowledge and understanding of U.S. history and government;
- Demonstrate a loyalty to the principles of the U.S. Constitution; and
- Be willing to take the Oath of Allegiance.
A resident, also known as a lawful permanent resident, is someone who has been granted the right to indefinitely live within the United States. Lawful permanent residents are also referred to as “Green Card Holders” because they are granted a green card to prove their lawful status in the United States.
To be eligible for residency in the United States, you must qualify under one of the categories determined by the U.S. government. These categories include:
- Green Card through Family
- Green Card through Employment
- Green Card as a Special Immigrant
- Green Card through Refugee or Asylee Status
- Green Card for Human Trafficking and Crime Victims
- Green Card for Victims of Abuse
- Green Card through Other Categories
- Green Card through Registry
Once eligible, applicants for permanent residency must go through the application process which includes filling in an application for residence, paying a necessary fee, undergoing medical checks, and going through a biometrics process. Once all of the necessary criteria has been satisfactorily met, a green card will be issued.
Non-immigrants are individuals who have a nationality other than American and who have been granted temporary permission to be in the United States for a specific purpose. Non-immigrants must have a non-immigrant Visa that proves their legal status as a temporary visitor in the country.
There are many different types of non-immigrant visas that someone can apply for to become a non-immigrant who is legally in the United States. The following chart from Travel.State.Gov explains these options in more detail –
|Purpose of Travel||Visa Category||Required: Before applying for visa*|
|Athlete, amateur or professional (competing for prize money only)||B-1||(NA)|
|Au pair (exchange visitor)||J||SEVIS|
|Australian professional specialty||E-3||DOL|
|Border Crossing Card: Mexico||BCC||(NA)|
|CNMI-only transitional worker||CW-1||(USCIS)|
|Diplomat or foreign government official||A||(NA)|
|Domestic employee or nanny – must be accompanying a foreign national employer||B-1||(NA)|
|Employee of a designated international organization or NATO||G1-G5, NATO||(NA)|
|Foreign military personnel stationed in the United States||A-2
|Foreign national with extraordinary ability in Sciences, Arts, Education, Business or Athletics||O||USCIS|
|Free Trade Agreement (FTA) Professional:
|H-1B1 – Chile
H-1B1 – Singapore
|International cultural exchange visitor||Q||USCIS|
|Medical treatment, visitor for||B-2||(NA)|
|NAFTA professional worker: Mexico, Canada||TN/TD||(NA)|
|Performing athlete, artist, entertainer||P||USCIS|
|Physician||J , H-1B||SEVIS|
|Professor, scholar, teacher (exchange visitor)||J||SEVIS|
|Specialty occupations in fields requiring highly specialized knowledge||H-1B||DOL then USCIS|
|Student: academic, vocational||F, M||SEVIS|
|Temporary agricultural worker||H-2A||DOL then USCIS|
|Temporary worker performing other services or labor of a temporary or seasonal nature.||H-2B||DOL then USCIS|
|Tourism, vacation, pleasure visitor||B-2||(NA)|
|Training in a program not primarily for employment||H-3||USCIS|
|Treaty trader/treaty investor||E||(NA)|
|Transiting the United States||C||(NA)|
|Victim of Criminal Activity||U||USCIS|
|Victim of Human Trafficking||T||USCIS|
|Nonimmigrant (V) Visa for Spouse and Children of a Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR)||V||(NA)|
|Renewals in the U.S. – A, G, and NATO Visas||(NA)|
4. Undocumented Immigrants
The final immigration status in the U.S. is that of the undocumented immigrant.
The undocumented immigrant is sometimes referred to as the “illegal alien” although this phrase is being eradicated from the immigration system vocabulary.
Undocumented immigrants are individuals that have entered the United States illegally. There is no record of these individuals entering the country and they do not have the necessary paperwork to prove legal presence in the U.S.
Undocumented immigrants can be deported if they are caught living in the U.S. illegally.
Are You Looking For A Reputable Immigration Attorney?
If you are looking for a legal representative in the Pasadena, California area, Nelson and Associates can help! To make an appointment with attorney Nelson himself, just give us a call today at 626-683-3451 and let us know how we can help you!