In U.S. immigration, there are four main categories of immigration status, including U.S. citizens, permanent or conditional residents, non-immigrants, and undocumented immigrants.
The following is a breakdown of each of these status types and what they mean for immigrants.
U.S. citizens are individuals who are either native to the U.S. by birth or underwent naturalization following a period of three to five years as lawful permanent residents. It’s impossible to deport U.S. citizens unless they fraudulently acquired citizenship. This status enables individuals to legally live and work in the U.S. and receive certain benefits. Individuals with this status can also sponsor family members to help them obtain legal status in the U.S.
There are two types of resident statuses for immigrants in the U.S.: Lawful permanent residents (LPR) and conditional residents. LPRs hold a green card that enables them to legally and permanently live and work in the United States. It’s possible to become an LPR by either attaining asylee or refugee status or having an employer or family member sponsor the applicant.
Meanwhile, conditional residents are individuals who have been married for under two years before receiving a green card. Both the conditional resident and his or her spouse must jointly file to remove the condition upon receiving the green card. If the condition isn’t removed within two years of receiving the green card, the card will no longer be valid and the government may choose to deport the conditional resident.
Non-immigrants are individuals who are in the country legally but for a limited time. Non-immigrants cover a variety of individuals, including:
- Business visitors or tourists (B1/B2 visas)
- Students (F-1 visas)
- Fiancées (K-1 visas)
- Individuals with temporary protected status
These temporary residents and employees don’t typically intend to become citizens or permanent residents.
Individuals who are in the country illegally are referred to as undocumented. They are unable to legally live or work in the U.S. and won’t be able to obtain a driver’s license or other benefits. These individuals face deportation if their status is discovered by the U.S. government.
Regardless of immigrant status, individuals have rights and may need to handle an immigration case. In these instances, it’s best to consult with an immigration lawyer in Chicago for additional information about an individual’s status and to discuss representation.