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Types of Immigration Statuses

Naturalized Citizen
Citizenship with no conditions on residency. To become a naturalized US Citizen, a non-citizen must:

    • Be 18 years of age;

    • Be lawfully admitted as a permanent residence (LPR);

    • Have resided continuously in the United States for five years (or three years if married to a U.S. citizen) after being admitted for LPR status and been physically present in the U.S. at least half time during the five years prior to filing the application for citizenship;

    • Be of good moral character; and

    • Support the Constitution and be disposed to the good order and happiness of the U.S.

Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR)
Permanent residency status allows a non-citizen to reside and work permanently in the United States. LPR’s are also known as green card holders. To be eligible for LPR status, the applicant must indicate an intention to reside permanently in the U.S. To become an LPR a non-citizen must petition after acquiring some other type of lawful immigration status such as a visa. Lawful permanent residents can be subject to removal after being convicted of certain criminal acts.

Conditional Permanent Residents
Include non-citizens’ spouses and their children who applied for LPR status based on a qualifying marriage to a LPR or a citizen. The conditional status expires on the second anniversary of obtaining conditional status unless the alien and his or her spouse have jointly applied for lawful permanent resident status prior to that time.

Family Sponsored Immigrant Visas
About 80% of all legal immigration into the US is through some type of family visa.

    • Immediate relatives of a U.S. Citizen, including a non-citizen spouse, unmarried minor child, or parent if citizen is 21 or older, are not subject to numerical limitation. The alien spouse or minor child will be a conditional immigrant if marriage is entered into less than 24 months prior to the date that the visa is obtained. The following family-sponsored visas are subject to numerical limitations and are given the following orders of preference.

    • Preference Level 1.: US Citizen’s unmarried son or daughter not a child. Preference level 2: Lawful permanent resident’s spouse, unmarried child, or unmarried son or daughter who is not a child.

    • Preference Level 3: US Citizen’s married son or daughter.

    • Preference level 4: US Citizen’s alien brother or sister. A lawful permanent resident’s spouse or unmarried minor child not otherwise entitled to a visa is entitled to the same status as the petitioning lawful permanent resident if accompanying or following to join the spouse or parent.

Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJ)
A person under the age of 21 may apply for Special Immigrant Juvenile status if he or she meets the following conditions if all of the following is found by the immigration court:

    • That the juvenile is dependent on the court or placed in the custody of an agency or department of a state or an individual or entity appointed by the state or a juvenile court located in the United States;  

    • That reunification of the juvenile with one or both parents is not viable due to abuse, neglect, or abandonment or a similar basis under state law; and

    • That there is an administrative or judicial finding that it would not be in the best interest of the juvenile to be returned to the juvenile’s or parent’s previous country of nationality or country of last habitual residence.

Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) Petitioner
A non-citizen married to a citizen or LPR or a child of the alien may self-petition for LPR status without the cooperation of the citizen or LPR spouse or parent if:

    • The spouse or child has been battered or subjected to extreme cruelty by citizen or lawful permanent resident spouse;

    • The act or threatened act was one of extreme cruelty, including physical violence, sexual abuse, forced detention, or psychological abuse against the petitioner or petitioner’s child by the spouse during the marriage;

    • The marriage is legal and in good faith;

    • The petitioner is not the primary perpetrator of the violence; and

    • The petitioner is of good moral character

Individuals seeking this status must meet the following basic conditions for consideration:

    • The individual has a well-founded fear of persecution on the basis of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion if returned to the home country or country of last permanent residence.

    • The individual is not a security risk or perpetrator of persecution.

    • The individual has not committed certain categories of crimes.

A person in the United States must generally apply for asylum within one year of admission. Once admitted the alien will be allowed to stay in the U.S. as long as expulsion from the U.S. would put them at a safety risk, unless he or she meets one of the grounds for loss of status listed below.

    • The individual is able to safely return to the home country or move to another country.

    • The individual no longer meets the requirements of eligibility.

    • The individual has participated in persecution.

    • The individual presents a security risk.

    • The individual has been convicted of a serious crime, including conviction of an aggravated felony. A spouse or child of an alien admitted as a refugee/asylee is admissible if “accompanying or following to join” the refugee/asylee.

    • The spouse or child cannot precede the refugee/asylee. An alien granted refugee/asylee status may apply for LPR status after one year.

    • The alien must be admissible, or the Attorney General may waive the grounds for inadmissibility, with some exceptions, for humanitarian purposes or to preserve family unity.

Non-Immigrant Temporary Visa
The law provides for a variety of categories of aliens that are eligible for visas to legally enter the United States on a temporary basis for a limited period of time. These visa holders are classified as non-immigrants because they do not plan to permanently reside in the United States. Types of applicants include vacationers, students, certain classes of temporary workers, and a variety of specialized categories. The authorized length of stay is specified in the visa.

Special Visas

    • Religious Workers

    • Panama Canal Company or Canal Zone Government Employees

    • International Organization Employees or Family Member

    • Broadcaster

    • Physician National Interest Waiver

    • Juvenile Court Dependents

    • Armed Forces Members

    • Afghan or Iraqi nationals who supported the U.S. Armed Forces as translators

    • Iraqi nationals who worked for or on behalf of the U.S. Government in Iraq

    • Diversity Visa Winners

Victims of Trafficking (T-Visas)
The T visa is a non-immigrant visa available for individuals who have been the victims of trafficking in persons if the person:

    • Is or has been the victim of a severe form of trafficking of persons;

    • Is physically present in the United States or its territories as a result of the trafficking;

    • Is complying with any reasonable request for assistance in the investigation or prosecution of traffickers, or is unable to comply with such request due to physical or psychological trauma, or is under 18 years of age; and

    • Would suffer extreme hardship

Crime Victims and Witnesses (U-Visas)
The U-Visa is a non-immigrant visa available to individuals who are in the U.S. as undocumented but meet the following requirements:

    • The individual has suffered severe physical or mental abuse as a result of being a victim of criminal activity.

    • The individual has been, is being, or is likely to be of help to a Federal, state, or local investigation of the criminal activity causing the abuse.

    • The individual has certification from a Federal, state, or local judge, prosecutor, law enforcement officer, or other justice system official involved in prosecuting the criminal activity that he or she has been, is being, or is likely to be of help to a Federal, state, or local investigation of the criminal activity causing the abuse.

The rights of the U visa holder include the following.

    • The maximum length of the U-Visa is four years unless extended.

    • The U-Visa holder may apply for any other immigration benefit or status for which he or she is eligible.

    • The holder of a U-Visa is eligible to apply for lawful permanent resident status with three years of continuous residence.

Deferred Action for Early Childhood Arrivals (DACA)
Type of special work permit available to individuals who entered the US at a young age as undocumented. Anyone requesting DACA must have been under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012. You must also be at least 15 years or older to request DACA, unless you are currently in removal proceedings or have a final removal or voluntary departure order. To qualify for DACA the individual must have:

    • Been under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012;

    • Came to the United States before reaching their 16th birthday;

    • Continuously resided in the United States since June 15, 2007, up to the present time;

    • Been physically present in the United States on June 15, 2012, and at the time of making your request for consideration of deferred action with USCIS;

    • Had no lawful status on June 15, 2012;

    • Been currently in school, have graduated or obtained a certificate of completion from high school, have obtained a general education development (GED) certificate, or are an honorably discharged veteran of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States; and

    • Not been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor or three or more other misdemeanors, and do not otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety.

*Please note that the state of DACA is currently in flux and subject to change.


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