Determining Immigration Status in Tuscaloosa
A person’s immigration status determines how long they can stay in this country, what they can do while here, and whether they can work, apply for a Green Card, or sponsor family members to join them here. The rules vary and can be confusing.
Immigration status is critical, but the complex system in this country makes determining immigration status in Tuscaloosa challenging. A local immigration attorney could help a visa holder, prospective employer, or family member navigate the system and explain the requirements and benefits of the various statuses.
People Entitled to Live and Work in the U.S.
Many people not raised in the U.S. or who hold passports from other nations have the right to build their lives in this country. If they are not citizens already, they have a path to citizenship.
Citizen By Birth
People born in the U.S. are citizens, regardless of their parent’s status. Someone born in the U.S. to undocumented immigrants is a citizen. In addition, a person is a U.S. citizen if one of their parents was a citizen when they were born. The government cannot deny entry or deport someone with U.S. citizenship.
Citizens are entitled to live and work in the U.S., travel outside the country at will, and vote. They may serve in the military, hold public office, apply for a U.S. passport, and are eligible for public benefits like Social Security and welfare.
Citizens may sponsor family members to immigrate to the U.S. The country will issue immigration permits to a citizen’s fiancé, spouse, parents, and unmarried children under 21 without limit. Siblings, children over 21, and married children may seek visas under the Family Preference category.
Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR)
A lawful permanent resident (LPR) is also called a Green Card holder. They have the right to live and work in the United States permanently. They cannot vote or hold public office and are not eligible for some public benefits.
Persons with LPR status can cross the border freely but cannot be out of the country for longer than one year. They can apply for citizenship five years after receiving LPR status. People who hold a Green Card because they are married to U.S. citizens can apply for citizenship after three years.
Green Card holders may sponsor their foreign spouse and unmarried children under 21 for immigration. However, these visas are in the Family Preference category, and only a limited number are issued yearly. After determining immigration status, a legal representative in Tuscaloosa could explain how long a family member might have to wait before receiving a visa.
Every year the U.S. issues a specific number of refugee visas to foreign nationals on humanitarian grounds. The President determines the number of refugee visas issued and prioritizes certain nationalities or groups of people. Refugees must apply for a Green Card within one year of their arrival.
Who Cannot Stay Permanently in the U.S.?
People in the U.S. temporarily and for a specific purpose have no right to live here permanently and cannot work here unless they have a work visa. Determining this immigration status means there is no path to citizenship for people in Tuscaloosa with temporary visas. If they wish to immigrate, they must leave the country and apply for a permit that allows permanent residency.
Temporary visitors are in the U.S. to study, participate in cultural exchanges, or work in seasonal or temporary jobs. Visas for visitors expire after a few months, depending on the type of permit. Individuals can renew some temporary visas. If a visitor overstays a permit, they become an undocumented alien and are subject to deportation.
A person who crosses a border without presenting their entry documents to a U.S. Customs and Immigration Officer is undocumented.
Undocumented immigrants have no legal status and no path to legal status. An undocumented alien who wishes to obtain legal status must leave the country and return with a valid visa. The U.S. will not issue a permit to someone undocumented for six months until three years after they leave the country. If a person was in the country as an undocumented immigrant for a year, they must wait ten years after leaving the U.S. before they could receive a visa to enter legally.
People at risk of persecution in their homeland can enter the country and apply for asylum. Asylum seekers are entitled to a hearing on their application and must present substantial proof justifying their fear of persecution. The government protects people from deportation until their asylum application is accepted or rejected.
Work with an Attorney for Determining Immigration Status in Tuscaloosa
Determining immigration status in Tuscaloosa is challenging and changing it could be even more so. Whether you are a Green Card holder interested in applying for citizenship or need help pursuing an asylum application, a local legal professional could help. Call today to discuss your case.