Legal Immigration Status in the United States

The levels of immigration status and its impact on the lives of immigrants in the United States

Research Summary

Many levels of immigration status exist to categorize the different types of immigrants that are currently residing in the United States. This helps the U.S maintain a better understanding of those who are not U.S citizens or nationals, and therefore provide services depending on one’s immigration status. It is important to be able to distinguish the different immigration status in the country, because it helps the government differentiate who receives welfare or other government aid and who does not. As well as, it helps keep track of immigration and the number of non-U.S citizens. The following passages will be listing and describing the different immigration status starting at permanence then the different variations of immigrants.

The different levels include what is most commonly known as immigrants, which are also referred as Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR). Which are immigrants that were able to obtain U.S citizenship, and are allowed to work in the United States without any consequences (2,3). Immigrants are issued a green card for identification purposes (2,3,6). Then there are nonimmigrants, which are granted a F-1 visa, which means they are allowed to be in the United States for a temporary time, 90 days or longer (2,3). This usually refers to tourists, or granted to international students. Therefore, the F-1 visa also corresponds to the F-1 student visa (2,3,6). Nonimmigrants are sometimes allowed to work in the United States, but for a limited amount of time, until the visa expires (3,6).

Refugees or asylum seekers are another category of immigration status (1,2). They are often overlooked as the typical immigrant, however they also hold a similar legal status process. Refugees are individuals who are escaping political upheaval in their home countries, and so are granted permanent residency into the United States, alongside temporary residential placement (1,2,6). This is similar to Temporary Protected Status (TPS), which grants those from designated countries, Homeland Security feels do not provide adequate protection of its nationals, temporary status in the United States (1,6,7).

Intended Audience

  • Policy Makers
  • Educators
  • Elected Officials
  • Advocates
  • Community Leaders

Related Projects

Academic Debates

Academic debates that are often being presented fall in the realms of social welfare of immigrants in the United States. With the wide variety of immigration status in the United States, multiple social scientists agree the overall welfare of immigrants is often overlooked. Some believe that the different levels of immigration are necessary to adapt a more humane immigration system. (CITE and more information)

Public Debates

While there seems to be a wide variety of ways to obtain a type of legal status in the United States, the process still seems almost impossible for certain immigrants trying to obtain legal status (4). Barack Obama has made a public speech on the problems with the immigration policies in the United States, stating that our country is built on immigrants and “it is time to fix our broken immigration system(5) . However, there are multiple debates in the political sphere that acknowledges the need for immigration, and other debates that completely disagree with such motion. (Thorough Citations)



  1. Bray, Ilona. “Legal Options for an Undocumented (Illegal) Immigrant to Stay in the U.S.” All Law.
  2. Internal Revenue Service,. 2014. Immigration Terms And Definitions Involving Aliens. Washington D.C:IRS.
  3. Bureau of Consular Affairs,. Directory Of Visa Categories. Washington D.C: U.S Department of State.
  4. Renwick, Danielle, and Brianna Lee. ‘The U.S. Immigration Debate’. Council on Foreign Relations 2015: n. pag. Website.
  5. Obama, Barack. 2013. ‘Fixing The System’. Presentation, Washington D.C.
  6. gov,. 2015. ‘Homepage | USCIS’.
  7. S Citizenship and Immigration Services,. 2015. Temporary Protected Status. Washington D.C: Department of Homeland Security.


Bianca Renteria