We know: Immigration Law Basics

What is an immigrant?

An immigrant is an alien (person who is not born in the United States or a naturalized citizen) admitted to the United States as a lawful permanent resident. The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) broadly defines an immigrant as any alien in the United States, except one legally admitted under specific nonimmigrant categories.

What is an illegal alien?

An illegal alien, also known as an "Undocumented Alien," is an alien who has entered the United States illegally and is deportable if apprehended, or an alien who entered the United States legally but who has fallen "out of status" and is deportable. To be a legal or documented Alien, an immigrant must be granted the right by the USCIS (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services) to reside permanently in the United States and to work without restrictions in the United States

What is a green card?

A green card, more formally known as a Permanent Resident Card (Form I-551) is evidence of your legal status and right to live and work permanently in the United States. It also is evidence of your registration in accordance with United States immigration laws.

What requirements must be met to become a US citizen?

To become a U.S. Citizen, you must

  • Be 18 years or older
  • Be a legal permanent resident (green card holder for at least 5 years, or 3 if you are married to a U.S. citizen.
  • Be a person of Good moral Character.
  • Be able to speak read, write, and understand ordinary English words and phrases. (This requirement may be waived for some people over 50 and long time legal residents)
  • Be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the fundamentals of U.S. history and principals of government. The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) sets forth the conditions for the temporary and permanent employment of aliens in the United States and includes provisions that address employment eligibility and employment verification. These provisions apply to all employers.

What is the process for becoming a US citizen?

The process for becoming a US citizen is:

  • You must submit an application for naturalization with fees, photos, and fingerprints
  • You will be subjected to a background check
  • You will be interviewed by a Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration officer
  • You will take the English and History exam
  • If approved, you will take the Oath of Allegiance to the United States of America

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