Your Immigration Status
A good place to begin is to understand the different types of immigration status, including your own. Every person in the U.S. has an immigration status. It is one of the following, in rough order of preference.
- U.S. citizen (USC). A person who was born in the U.S., naturalized, or born abroad to a U.S. citizen parent. These are the only people in this list who are not subject to deportation proceedings.
- lawful permanent resident (LPR). A green card holder who is eligible to reside permanently in the U.S. and apply for naturalization.
- asylee/refugee. A person who was either granted asylum in the U.S. or who entered the U.S. officially as a refugee and has not yet been granted permanent residence.
- nonimmigrant. A person who has come to the U.S. temporarily on a valid nonimmigrant visa for a specific purpose, such as to visit, study, work, or invest.
- temporary protected status (TPS). A person who has obtained status as a citizen of a country that Congress has designated to receive protected status on account of armed conflict, natural disaster, or other extraordinary circumstance. Such a person is in a position to possibly benefit from legislation allowing permanent residence.
- out of status. A person who initially lawfully entered on a nonimmigrant visa, but the visa has expired or its terms have been violated.
- undocumented alien. A person who has entered the U.S. without inspection (EWI), such as across the Mexican or Canadian border, or on a false passport.
This book is intended to assist those in categories 3 through 7 gain permanent residence status in the U.S. The primary focus of this book is applying for adjustment of status in the U.S. as opposed to applying for permanent residence (an immigrant visa) at a U.S. embassy or consulate in a foreign country. While the eligibility requirements are the same and some parts of the process are identical, the information in this book is not sufficiently detailed to be a guide to the entire process of applying abroad.