What are the Four Categories of Immigration Status in the US?

visaIn order to understand the basic immigration status law and policy, you don’t have to be an immigration lawyer. There are four categories that you can fall into in the U.S. It is important that these concepts are applied, since they can make all the difference when it comes to an immigration petition. Additionally, it is wise to hire a family immigration lawyer with Espinoza Law Offices.

Four Categories of Immigration Status

U.S. Citizens

These are people who were born in the U.S. or who have become naturalized after three to five years as permanent residents. Unless citizenship was obtained through fraud, these citizens are unable to be deported. These citizens will have the right to work legally and receive various types of public benefits as long as they are eligible. Furthermore, an individual will be able to petition for the legal status of their child, spouse, parent, or sibling. Immigration lawyers Lakeland FL can assist.


People who fall under this category are considered legal but only temporarily. Some examples are:

  • Students -F-1 visa
  • Business visitors or tourists- B1/B2 visas
  • Fiancees- K-1 visa
  • Individuals that have been granted temporary protected status

These individuals do not plan on immigrating. However, if their application is fraudulent or if they overstay or violate any terms of their visa, their legal status will switch to undocumented.


These include any person that is in the country without permission or illegally. This means that they were not given any permission to live in the U.S. Additionally, they are unauthorized to work and cannot gain access to public benefits such as a driver’s license or health care.

If a person who lives in the U.S. legally is caught, they will be deported or will have deportation proceedings started against them. This can create a very stressful living situation.

Furthermore, immigration attorneys Tampa FL can help you if you need to obtain your visa.

You can become undocumented by overstaying a legal temporary visa, or by entering the U.S. without going through an entry port.

Permanent or Conditional Residents

A legal permanent resident is any person who has obtained a green card. With a green card, you are considered a permanent resident and have been granted to live and work in the U.S. permanently. You will also be given a permanent resident card. This status can be obtained in several ways, with the most common being sponsored by a family member or employer in the U.S.

Conditional residents are individuals who have been married less than two years prior to receiving a green card. This is a type of residency that requires both you and your spouse to file jointly to remove this condition within two years after you receive your green card. If not, your card will be terminated and you will face deportation.

How an Attorney Can Help

There are several ways an immigration lawyer near Tampa Bay can help you obtain an e2 visa green card. Immigration lawyers can help you analyze your rights, strategies, and possibilities and guide you through every step in the immigration status process.

Immigration attorneys will prepare all the paperwork on you or your employer’s behalf, which can save you a lot of time and help you avoid making costly mistakes. Attorneys can also help keep you organized about the items you must collect on your own, including proof of marriage, birth certificates, etc.

If you are looking to obtain an e2 visa to green card, your attorney will make sure that the information you present is correct, consistent, and clear. This information will be given to the U.S. government. Above all, an experienced attorney knows what you can expect from the U.S. government. Difficulties and delays may occur but your attorney will know how to deal with them accordingly.