The United States provides an average of one million immigrants with lawful permanent resident status each year. Most immigrants choose California, New York, Florida, and Texas to start their new lives. Most immigrants come from Mexico, followed by India and China. Yet people choose to immigrate to the United States for various reasons. Overall, there are four classifications of immigrants to the United States. Differences in the classifications impact regulations and processes for immigration over the borders.
Classifications of Immigrants According to the USCIS
- Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR). LPRs are those that receive green cards upon entry to the United States. After three to four years living and working in the States, an LPR can qualify for American citizenship. With a green card, an LPR must also pay taxes and is eligible to vote and receive some social services. There are five different types of green cards an LPR may qualify for:
- Family-based cards – issued to relatives of United States citizens.
- Employment-based cards – issued to non-U.S. citizens employed and sponsored by a U.S. company.
- Humanitarian green cards – provided to individuals needing shelter or aid from disasters, oppression, emergency medical issues, and other urgent circumstances.
- Diversity lottery green cards – a limited number of cards provided randomly to applicants who wish to immigrate to the United States but do not fit any other category.
- Longtime resident green cards – provided to undocumented individuals who have lived in the U.S. since January 1, 1972.
- Temporary Visitor Status. Temporary visas are provided to immigrants who do not plan to stay in the U.S. permanently. At the end of their visa, they must return to their country of residence. Most of these visas are for tourism, vacation, medical treatments, or to visit with relatives. They may be as short as one month or as long as ten years.
- Undocumented Immigrants. As the name implies, these immigrants do not have the documents necessary to be legally within the borders of the U.S. While some enter the country illegally, nearly two-thirds of undocumented immigrants originally received a green card or temporary visa but remained in the U.S. after it expired.
- United States Citizens. Individuals born and residing outside of the U.S. are eligible to be American citizens if at least one of their parents has U.S. citizenship–either by birth or naturalization.
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The USCIS has different processes for each of these classifications of immigrants. Using a professional interpreter with proven experience with USCIS processes will help ensure you have documents you need translated correctly based on your unique situation.
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