The status an immigrant holds in the eyes of U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services plays a central and immensely consequential role in determining what that immigrant’s prospects look like. If you are unclear on your immigration status or suspect you may not be a lawful resident for any reason, you may be subject to detainment and subsequent deportation by Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Determining immigration status in St. Louis is the first and most important step to effectively protecting your rights as an immigrant. By working with a seasoned immigration attorney at Hacking Immigration Law, LLC, you could substantially improve your odds of a positive case resolution and of keeping your life and that of your family as stable as possible.
The vast majority of lawful U.S. residents are classified as either Legal Permanent Residents (LPR) or citizens, both of which have different meanings and are obtained in different ways. Achieving LPR status generally requires both an immigrant visa and the completion of a lengthy application process, after which a successful petitioner may receive a Green Card that allows them to live and work in the U.S. legally but does not give them all the same rights that citizens have.
Conversely, anyone born in U.S. territory and/or to a parent who is a U.S. citizen is considered a natural-born citizen. Individuals with LPR status can become eligible to apply for naturalized citizenship if they live in the U.S. for a long enough time and meet certain other criteria. Citizens are afforded various civil privileges that people with LPR status do not have, such as the rights to vote and run for public office.
Certain types of LPR applicants may be considered conditional permanent residents until they fulfill specific requirements, and some individuals—like asylum applicants—receive temporary protected status while they wait for USCIS to finish processing their petition. Finally, individuals with valid nonimmigrant visas can travel into and throughout the U.S. for a specified period of time without any issues, but they cannot live here on a permanent basis. An attorney in St. Louis could help an immigrant determine what status may be most beneficial for their situation.
If a Legal Permanent Resident or nonimmigrant visa holder does not renew their lawful status when it expires, or if someone enters the U.S. without a visa and without notifying immigration officials, they become an unlawful U.S. resident and may be subject to removal proceedings. Fortunately, there are ways to address this kind of problem that do not necessarily have to end with deportation.
In the best-case scenario, a resident in St. Louis without lawful immigration status may be eligible to apply for adjustment of status before ICE or the Department of Homeland Security gets involved. If removal proceedings have already begun, it may still be possible to remain in the U.S. through different methods such as asylum, demonstrating undue hardship on family members, or the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. A knowledgeable lawyer could discuss the specific possibilities on a case-by-case basis during a confidential meeting.
USCIS and ICE take violations of United States immigration law very seriously, and even if you are here legally, convincing these agencies of that fact can be a time-consuming and complicated process. Things may get even more difficult if you no longer have lawful status or never had it to begin with.
Because of this, determining immigration status in St. Louis should be a priority for anyone who is unclear about how federal authorities have classified their presence in the United States. Contact Hacking Immigration Law, LLC today to learn more.