Determining Immigration Status in Atlanta
Knowing what status you hold in the eyes of Immigration and Customs Enforcement while residing in the United States can be vital not just to protecting your long-term plans, but also to enforcing your rights in the short term. Even if you are here lawfully and went through the proper channels to make sure of that in the past, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is an infamously disorganized agency, and you may not have weeks or months to wait for up-to-date information if you cannot establish lawful residence to the satisfaction of ICE in the moment.
For this reason, determining immigration status in Atlanta can be an important and high-stakes endeavor for anyone not born here or born to U.S.-based parents. A seasoned immigration attorney could help review all available documentation, examine the circumstances that led to you living in the country, and offer guidance about what next steps may be necessary to establish your status here and preserve your best interests.
How Does U.S. Citizenship Work?
There are only four ways to become a United States citizen, most of which are entirely out of an individual person’s direct control. The only exception to that rule is if someone goes through the naturalization process and takes an Oath of Allegiance to the United States—which lawful immigrants generally become eligible to do once they have maintained Legal Permanent Residence (LPR) here for five years minimum and meet certain other criteria.
Otherwise, if at least one parent of a child is a natural-born or naturalized U.S. citizen when that child is born, that child will be considered a natural-born U.S. citizen regardless of where in the world their birth occurs. Likewise, anyone born on United States soil—including in U.S. territories like Puerto Rico—is automatically conferred citizenship regardless of their parents’ immigration status, as is anyone under 18 years old whose parent(s) become naturalized U.S. citizens while being their primary caregiver(s). Determining whether one of these circumstances applies to a particular person is a key first step to determining their immigration status in Atlanta.
Identifying Immigrant and Non-Immigrant Status
Individuals without U.S. citizenship generally cannot live here on a permanent basis until they obtain LPR status—in other words, unless they get a Green Card. Sponsorship by a family member or employer is the most common means by which immigrants to the U.S. establish LPR status, but it is also possible to become a Legal Permanent Resident here by applying for asylum, entering as a refugee, or through other means such as a T or U visa.
Non-immigrants may stay in the U.S. on a temporary basis if they have a valid non-immigrant visa, or if their country of origin participates in the Visa Waiver Program. A person is considered undocumented and may be subject to removal proceedings when they meet the following criteria:
- They are not a U.S. citizen
- They have not applied for or been granted LPR status by any means
- They either entered the country without a non-immigrant visa or with a non-immigrant visa that has since expired
An experienced attorney in Atlanta could help an individual who is unsure of their immigration status investigate and gather the appropriate documentation to determine where they stand.
An Atlanta Attorney Could Help with Determining Immigration Status
The question of whether you are here lawfully should be one you can answer immediately and with documentary proof to back up your answer. When you are unable to do this, figuring out whether you have lawful status here and obtaining documentation to prove it should be your absolute top priority.
If you need help determining immigration status in Atlanta, a capable and compassionate immigration lawyer could be a crucial ally to have during the process. Call today to get started.