How can I better understand the basics of immigration? - We Welcome Refugees

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Immigration is a complex legal process with outcomes that vary widely based on an individual’s personal circumstances. This Immigration Primer from the Evangelical Immigration Table explains the basics of how immigration works and provides links to further reading resources. The key terms below are a great place to start as you begin learning more about immigration.

Asylum Seeker A person who is seeking protection – claiming to meet the definition of a refugee (see below) – who is already inside the United States or at the U.S. border
Dreamer A young undocumented immigrant who came to the United States as a child. The term comes from a piece of legislation, the Development Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act – which has been introduced repeatedly since 2001 but has not yet been passed into law – that would provide permanent legal status to certain undocumented individuals who arrived in the U.S. as minors. Many Dreamers benefit from Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).
Immigrant A person who comes to live permanently in a foreign country.
Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) A foreign-born person who has been granted an indefinitely renewable visa to live and work in the United States.
Migrant Any person who moves from one place to another, especially in order to find work or better living conditions. Migrants can be “immigrants” if they intend to stay permanently in a country other than their place of birth or “non-immigrants” if they intend to stay temporarily.
Non-immigrant Visa A visa for persons who have permanent residency outside the U.S. and are authorized to be in the country on a temporary basis. Non-immigrant visas may or may not include employment authorization. Examples of non-immigrant visas include tourist visas, student visas, and temporary worker visas.
Refugee A person outside the country of his or her nationality, who is unable or unwilling to return to that country because of persecution, or a well-founded fear of persecution, based on his or her race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group. Refugees resettled to the U.S. are identified by the U.S. government abroad, flown to the U.S., and then resettled in partnership with faith-based or non-profit organizations that partner with the U.S. State Department.
Temporary Protected Status (TPR) Temporary status granted to eligible foreign-born individuals who are unable to return home safely due to conditions or circumstances preventing their country from adequately handling the return.
Unaccompanied Children (UAC) Children who cross the border alone or without their parents. Unaccompanied children receive more protections than other immigrants, including being housed in licensed Health and Human Services child shelters rather than Border Patrol detention facilities. Synonymous with: Unaccompanied Minor.
Undocumented Immigrant A foreign-born person who does not have the legal right to be or remain in the United States. Immigrants become undocumented either by crossing the border illegally or by overstaying their temporary visas.
U.S. Citizen An individual who was born within the United States, who acquired U.S. citizenship when born abroad as a child of a U.S. citizen, who completed a naturalization process or who derived citizenship as the child of a parent who naturalized. In order to naturalize, an individual must first qualify for Lawful Permanent Resident status and, in most cases, maintain that status for at least five years, in addition to complying with other requirements.

 

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