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Immigrants to the United States can fall into one of four immigration status categories: citizens, residents, non-immigrants, and undocumented immigrants. Understanding your immigration status categories can help people figure out what steps they need to take to become legal citizens and avoid being undocumented or risking deportation. Read on to learn more.

  • US Citizens

A US citizen is a person who is either born in the United States or becomes a naturalized citizen after living in the country for three or five years. Citizens of the United States cannot be deported unless circumstances involving citizenship obtained via deception arise.

Immigrants who become citizens are allowed to work lawfully and get any public benefits that they are eligible for. They can also assist family members such as spouses, children, parents, or siblings in obtaining legal status.

  • Permanent and Conditional Residents

Immigrants who acquire their green card before completing two years of marriage are considered conditional residents. Immigrants and their spouses must also make a combined application to remove the requirement before two years have passed since acquiring their green card. Otherwise, the resident’s green card will expire, and they may be deported.

Permanent residents (LRPs) who have received a green card and are permitted to live and work in the United States indefinitely. Permanent resident cards, often known as green cards, are issued to LPRs as proof of their status.

It is possible to become a permanent resident through having a green card application sponsored by an employer or family member or by becoming a permanent residence through asylee or refugee status.

  • Non-Immigrant

Non-immigrants are people who are legally residing and working in the country temporarily. Students on F-1 visas, fiancées on K-1 visas, business visitors, tourist visas, and those awarded the temporary protected status are all instances of non-immigrants. Individuals having non-immigrant status usually do not aim to become permanent residents.

  • Undocumented

Individuals who enter the country unlawfully or without authorization are known as undocumented immigrants, and they are unable to dwell in the United States either temporarily or permanently. They will also be unable to lawfully work in the United States and will be denied access to privileges such as driver’s licenses and health insurance that are available to citizens.

Undocumented immigrants may be deported at any time. Individuals who overstay a temporary legal visa or enter the US unlawfully and fail to go through a port of entry will be termed undocumented.


Understanding your Immigration Status Category is the first step. Once you know your status, you can take further measures as per your individual situation. Get in touch with an immigration lawyer at (818)900-5707 to explore your options.

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