Immigration status in the United States falls into four different divisions. Each describes the citizenship status of a person in that category.

There may be more specific groups within each classification. For example, the Internal Revenue Service uses more precise terms. However, most people fall into one of the four sections. At Vickerstaff Law Office, PSC, we often help clients understand the complex laws on immigration status.

Undocumented persons

Someone who does not have permission to live or work in the U.S. is an undocumented or “illegal” person. He or she cannot access public services and risks deportation.

An undocumented person may enter the country outside of an official port of entry. Someone overstaying a temporary visitation visa also falls into this category.

Non-immigrant persons

Those with a non-immigrant status are in the U.S. legally for a limited time and a particular reason. Examples of this status include students and visitors on business or pleasure trips.

Permanent or conditional residents

Permanent or conditional residents are those with a “green card.” A permanent resident card grants someone the legal right to live and work in the United States. Most commonly, a person gets permanent resident status with a sponsor, usually a family member or employer.

U.S. citizens

A U.S. citizen was born in the United States or is “naturalized” after living in the U.S. legally for three to five years. A citizen has full access to all public services and is never in danger of deportation.

Visit our webpage to learn more about immigration law and how it applies to each of the four categories.