Immigration Law Overview

What is Immigration Status?

Why Immigration Status is Important

Immigration status determines a person’s:

  • Vulnerability to removal
  • Right to work legally
  • Ability to petition for family members
  • Right to get Social Security number
  • Eligibility for public benefits
  • Right to vote

Immigration status is extremely complex and fluid

Status can be lost or gained

How does a person gain status?

There are many ways to gain lawful status. The most common paths to status include:

Can a person lose status?


What does it mean to be undocumented?

  • A person is commonly referred to as “undocumented” if s/he was not inspected and authorized by U.S. immigration authorities to be lawfully admitted to the U.S.
  • But an undocumented person may be eligible to change their immigration status.


What is lawful permanent residence?

  • A lawful permanent resident (green card holder) can live and work in the U.S. permanently.
  • Lawful permanent residents are eligible to become citizens. However, they are still vulnerable to deportation.

Why do families matter?

  • The most common way to gain immigration status is through a family member.
  • Most children derive their status from their parents.
  • And many individuals gain status through marriage.