US Citizenship and Immigration Services has three main categories of immigration status — naturalized citizen, lawful permanent resident (LPR), and conditional permanent resident (CPR). The length of your residency and how you arrived in the USA will determine which of these three statuses apply to you. If you are residing in the USA as a foreign-born person and none of these are applicable you are considered an undocumented immigrant.
Naturalized citizens are immigrants who were lawful, permanent residents that then applied for and received citizenship. Lawful permanent residents are people who qualified for the right to reside and work in the USA permanently, whereas conditional permanent residents are alien spouses and children of naturalized or full US citizens who have applied for permanent resident status.
Naturalized citizens must be 18 years of age and lawfully admitted for permanent residence. They also must have resided continuously in the United States for five years (or three years if married to a US citizen) after being admitted for LPR status and been physically present in the US at least half of the time during the five years prior to filing the application for citizenship. Other requirements are that they be of good moral character, support the Constitution, and be disposed to the good order and happiness of the US.
Paths to Permanent Residency
There are a variety of routes to becoming a lawful permanent resident — family-based visas, employment-based visas, and diversity-based visas. The last item is commonly known as the green card lottery.
The immigration system in the US can be opaque and difficult to maneuver for people attempting to establish their status. It is highly recommended that you engage the services of a competent immigration attorney. Albers Ross Law has many years of experience assisting people with the immigration system. Call us today to discuss your case with a qualified immigration attorney.