- A U.S. citizen is someone who was born in the U.S. or to U.S. citizen parents, or someone who applies to become a citizen and gets naturalized.
- An immigrant is anyone living in the U.S. who is not a U.S. citizen. Some immigrants have documents like green cards, or work visas, or other kinds of visas. Other immigrants are undocumented. That means they do not have a green card or other valid legal visa.
- A lawful permanent resident (someone with a “green card”) is an immigrant with legal permission to live in the U.S. for as long as s/he wants to. Permanent residents get special cards that they must carry. (Cards issued since 2010 are green. Older “green cards” may be yellow or gold.)
In the U.S., some public benefits are only for U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents. But anyone, including undocumented immigrants, can get the following benefits…
To become a U.S. citizen you must first become a permanent resident. Then you must wait five years (or three years if you are married to and living with a U.S. citizen) before you can apply for U.S. citizenship.
If your child is born in the U.S., he or she is a U.S. citizen.
Many immigrants have documents from their home countries. You may need them later if you apply for permanent residency. But having citizenship documents from your home country does not mean you can automatically become a documented immigrant here.
You could be deported. (more…)
Immigrants often need advice to understand how the legal system works. But be very careful when you look for advice. There are people who seem to be lawyers—or even say they are lawyers—but they are not.
The DACA program provides temporary relief from deportation for young people who meet certain requirements. If you qualify for DACA, it would allow you to stay in the country for an extra two years.
Yes, luckily in California, DACA individuals can be eligible for state-based health care like: Medi-Cal, the Child Health and Disability Prevention Program (CHDP), Access for Infants and Others (AIM), Family Pact, and AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP).
Maybe. If you are under 18, you are eligible for full-scope Medi-cal. If you are 18 or older and don’t have immigration papers, you could be eligible for certain kinds of limited state-based health care.
That depends on your status.
Immigration Officers usually ask where you were born and whether you have immigration documentation.
If you are undocumented and have a child, make plans now for someone to care for your child if you get arrested.
If you are an undocumented immigrant, do not go to an Immigration office or detention center to help your relative or friend. If you go, you may be arrested, too. If you want to pay a bond or send a message, ask someone who is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident to do it for you.
It depends. To avoid getting deported, make sure you obey the laws, and stay away from people who do not obey the law.