Status is a descriptive term for an individual’s standing in as far as immigration and citizenship are concerned. It includes being a legal US citizen. Achieving any citizenship or immigration status depends on various factors, including an immigrant’s circumstances and fulfillment of certain obligations. Immigrants to the United States can be categorized into four broad status groups. These include US citizens, permanent and conditional residents, non-immigrants, and undocumented immigrants.
The permanent or conditional resident status is typically gained to people who have a green card or those who have been authorized to live and work in the country on a permanent basis. In addition to the green card, this status can also be gotten through other means such as sponsoring by family members or employers based in the United States.
For couples who have been married for two years or less before receiving their green card, conditional resident status is granted. They are usually required to file for the removal of the condition barring them from gaining permanent resident status. This is often a complex legal process.
Non-immigrants are individuals who have been legally allowed to stay in the US on a temporary basis. These include students, fiancées who have American partners, business and tourism visitors, and people who are granted temporary protected status such as asylum seekers.
The undocumented status is granted to individuals from foreign countries who live and/or work in the United States without having followed the proper procedure to enter the country or to engage in activities such as employment. This could be by continuing one’s stay after expiry of a legal temporary visa, or entry to the country without using legal ports of entry. Individuals with undocumented status are at risk of deportation and don’t have access to many benefits, including social security and healthcare.