What Is an Illegal Immigrant?

Immigration can be a political hot topic. As such, many people have heard terms like “illegal alien” and “illegal Immigrant” bandied about. What exactly do these terms refer to however? Do they accurately describe what people are actually trying to reference? Is there a better alternative? We will take a look at the answer to these questions and more here.

What Is an Illegal Immigrant?

Popular use of the terms “illegal alien” and “illegal immigrant” may have made them commonplace, but there is no actual reference to such terms in official U.S. immigration laws. In fact, there are many reasons that these terms are problematic and do not really accurately reflect what people are really trying to refer to, which is an “undocumented immigrant” or, an “unauthorized immigrant.” An undocumented immigrant is a person who was born in a country outside of the U.S. and who lacks the legal right to be in or to remain in the U.S. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security refers to unauthorized resident immigrants as “foreign-born citizens who are not legal residents.” The majority of unauthorized residents came to the U.S. after being temporarily admitted and stayed past their required date of departure or they entered the U.S. without inspection.

“Undocumented” or “unauthorized” is preferred to “illegal” for several reasons. First, referring to an immigrant as “illegal” makes it appear as though he or she is a criminal. Violation of U.S. immigration law, however, is a “civil” as opposed to a “criminal” offense. Furthermore, it really fails to describe the complex nature of immigration status. Immigration status is fluid and can be adjusted based on individual circumstances.

The struggles that undocumented immigrants in the U.S. face are vast. The fear of deportation, or removal, from the country can create a level of fear that is untenable. Undocumented immigrants, however, should be aware that there could be available pathways to long-term legal status in the U.S. that may be available to them. Even with no legal status, certain unauthorized immigrants may still have options available to them.

Should an undocumented immigrant marry a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident, he or she may be able to seek a green card. Alternately, an undocumented immigrant who lawfully entered the U.S., but stayed past the date he or she was supposed to leave, could be able to adjust to permanent resident status if he or she has an immediate relative, such as a parent, who is a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident by applying for a waiver. Those known as the “DREAMers” may be able to find a U.S. employer that would sponsor them for a green card as a highly-skilled prospective employee while the route to a green card may be difficult, it may be possible. Additionally, some undocumented immigrants may be eligible for asylum status, which is granted to those in the U.S. who have fled persecution in their home country or who have a well-founded fear of persecution in their home country should they have to return.

Immigration Law Attorneys

If you should have any questions or need more information about the ways in which the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Laws may impact you, your family, your friends or your colleagues, please contact the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Lawyers at the NPZ Law Group – VISASERVE – U.S. Immigration and Nationality Lawyers by e-mailing us at info@visaserve.com or by calling us at 201-670-0006 (x104). You can also visit our Law Firm’s website at www.visaserve.com