- Who is considered an immigrant?
- What are the four types of immigration status in the U.S.?
- Who is a nonimmigrant?
^ Who is considered an immigrant?
A person who leaves one country to settle permanently in another. The word “immigrants,” as understood in U.S. immigration law, are persons admitted as legal permanent residents of the United States (also known as a “Lawful Permanent Resident”). Once admitted, immigrants are subject to few restrictions. For example, they may accept and change employment, and may apply for U.S. citizenship through the naturalization process, generally after five years.
^ What are the four types of immigration status in the U.S.?
- Citizens, either through birth in the U.S. or one of its territories, or through naturalization;
- Permanent residents (often called green card holders), immigrants who have gained the status of permanent residents in the U.S. through family-based sponsorship, employment, the diversity lottery or other means;
- Holders of temporary visas allowing individuals to be in the U.S. for limited time for a specific purpose, (i.e., student visas which allow aliens, nationals of foreign countries, to study in the U.S. for a temporary period of time) (see “Who is a nonimmigrant?” below); and
- Undocumented aliens/immigrants.
^ Who is a nonimmigrant?
As this phrase is used in U.S. immigration, a nonimmigrant is an international traveler with a permanent residence abroad (for most classes of admission) who seeks temporary entry into the U.S. for a specific purpose. Examples of persons seeking temporary entry are those who come for reasons of tourism, business, temporary work, study, or medical assistance. Most nonimmigrant visas are issued only to applicants who can demonstrate their intentions to return to their home country.
Once a person has entered the U.S. with a nonimmigrant visa, they are restricted to the activity or reason for which they were allowed entry. Each nonimmigrant status has rules and guidelines, which must be followed in order for the nonimmigrant to remain "in status." A nonimmigrant who violates one of these rules or guidelines will fall "out of status." A nonimmigrant who remains "out of status" for at least 180 days is deportable and will be unable to re-enter the United States for three years. A nonimmigrant who remains "out of status" for at least 365 days is deportable and will be unable to re-enter the United States for ten years.
The type or class of visa a nonimmigrant would obtain relates to their reason for coming to the United States. Reasons may include medical care, travel, studying, temporary work, an internship, or business.