Immigration Status: Types, Verification And Other Countries

The immigration status is the term used to identify the legal status of a person in a country that is different from the one where he was born. Se can be considered legal or illegal. For example, if a foreign person is on vacation in the United States and has a valid and valid passport, then their immigration status is said to be legal.

On the other hand, if a foreign person goes to live with an American relative and stays in the United States to study, but enters the country with their tourist passport, then their immigration status is considered illegal, because they entered the country as tourist, and not as a student.

Therefore, immigration status refers to the way in which a person is present in a country. There are different immigration conditions for people. One way to think of it is as a spectrum, from being a citizen of the country to being illegal or being without any conditions.

Types of immigration status

Legal immigration status is obtained with an immigrant visa, which will allow the person to work and reside in the United States. Also obtaining a non-immigrant visa.


If you are born on American soil, regardless of how your parents entered the country, you are automatically a citizen. If you are born outside the United States, you can get citizenship in these ways:

Acquired citizenship

You are born abroad and at least one of your parents has American citizenship.

Citizenship by naturalization

Citizenship is requested after being a lawful permanent resident for a certain number of years.

Green card

This card is granted to persons favored by a US employer, to relatives of permanent residents or US citizens, and to persons eligible for political asylum or refugee status.

A-1 visa

It is granted to diplomatic personnel from other countries.

B-1 visa

It is granted to people who are in the country for business trips, but cannot be hired by a company in the United States.

B-2 visa

It is given to people who come to the country as tourists. They cannot work in the United States.

E visa

It is granted to investors or merchants by agreement.

G-1 visa

It is conferred on United Nations employees.

H-1 visa

It is awarded to professionals who are going to work for a company in the United States. It is authorized for a maximum term of 6 years.

I-1 visa

It is awarded to international journalists.

J-1 visa

It is awarded to visitors who work in the field of cultural activity and research.

L-1 visa

It is granted to people who want to found a subsidiary or affiliate company of a company in the US, or who are looking to work for that company.

O, P and R visa

Athletes, religious workers, and models are licensed.

How is it checked?

Lawful permanent resident

When you are a lawful permanent resident (RPL), you can keep your immigration status indefinitely unless you abandon residence, naturalize, or are deported.

The green card is valid for ten years only, although it can be renewed. Even if the green card expires, it will still be an RPL. However, immigration status cannot be verified if this card is not renewed.

Nonimmigrant visa holders

If you enter the United States for a limited period of time, you are called a nonimmigrant. Non-immigrants applied for a tourist, student or temporary worker visa abroad.

Generally speaking, Form I-94 will indicate how long you are allowed to stay in the United States. Depending on how it was entered and when, the I-94 can be an electronic record, a paper attachment, or a stamp placed on the passport by customs.

With a nonimmigrant status you cannot work, unless the visa specifically allows it.

No immigration status and illegal presence

If you were never formally admitted to the US, then you don’t have immigration status. This is also true when staying in the United States beyond the time allowed by the visa.

In case of having an illegal immigration status, the Illegal Immigration Reform Act established the following restrictions:

– A person who for more than 180 days in a row has been in the country illegally and leaves the territory, will not be admitted to the United States for a period of three years.

– The person who for more than one consecutive year has remained in the country illegally and leaves the territory, will not be admitted to the United States for a period of ten years.

– A person who has been in the country illegally for a total period of more than one year and then leaves the territory, will permanently lose their admission to the United States.

Differences between countries



It is the foreigner who temporarily enters the country, as: visitor, tourist, political asylee, refugee, student, correspondent or distinguished visitor.

Foreigners who require this immigration status must meet the following guidelines:

– You will be granted permission to engage in any activity, provided it is honest and lawful.

– Permission will be authorized for up to one year, and four extensions of equal duration may be granted, allowing multiple entries and exits during the time conferred.


It is the foreigner who legally enters the country to reside in it, seeking to acquire immigrant status.

Immigrant status will be granted for up to five years, with foreigners having the obligation to satisfactorily verify that they are meeting the indicated conditions, to annually approve their immigration documentation.

Immigrants with legal residence in the country for five years can obtain immigration status, provided they have complied with the provisions.

Immigrants who have been outside the country for more than 18 months will not be able to change their immigration status to immigrant.


The validity of the Alien Card is four years, and can be renewed upon expiration. This term corresponds to the validity of the document, but not to the expiration of the assigned immigration status.

The circumstances for the resident and temporary migratory conditions are established, where the following stand out:


It is granted to foreigners who enter the country to carry out contractual, legal, business, or technical assistance activities.

The term of stay is 183 days, which can be used continuously or for periods of days that when added together result in 183 days, within a period of one year. This period is not extendable.

Temporary and resident worker

The foreigner who provides his services as an employee may subscribe this immigration status as long as he has a work contract.

The time of permanence in the case of temporary immigration status is 183 days, and in the case of a resident it will be 365 days, granting extensions for the same term.


  1. National Latino Network (2019). What is Immigration Status? Taken from:
  2. Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey (2006). Basic knowledge to start the immigration legal process. Taken from:
  3. Michigan Legal Aid (2019). Basics about immigration: Immigration status, laws, agencies and courts. Taken from:
  4. Management (2017). How long can a foreigner stay in Peru according to their immigration status? Taken from:
  5. Flores – Garibay (2018). Immigration Qualities that allow the Foreigner to legally enter the Country and carry out some Activity. Taken from:

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