1. Who is an Immigrant?

According to migrationpolicy.org, Immigrant is not a term used universally: though common in North America to refer to those living in a country other than their birth country, other terms frequently used include “international migrant,” the “foreign born,” and “migrant.” National statistical agencies base their counts of migrant populations on the number of people who say they were born in another country and/or who hold the citizenship of another country

In casual usage, “immigrant” can refer to any foreign-born person, but in the United States, some are technically considered “nonimmigrants.” While immigrants intend to stay in a new country permanently, nonimmigrants remain only temporarily, whether that’s for a few days on a business trip, a few months as a seasonal worker, or a few years as a student. Those considered immigrants also include a range of people with different legal statuses. These statuses are not identical, but are often comparable, across different receiving countries.

For more detailed information including the categories of naturalized citizen, permanent citizen, refugee/asylee, twilight statuses and unauthorized visit:

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2. Who is a Migrant?

Migrant is an umbrella term, not defined under international law, reflecting the common lay understanding of a person who moves away from his or her place of usual residence, whether within a country or across an international border, temporarily or permanently, and for a variety of reasons. The term includes a number of well-defined legal categories of people, such as migrant workers; persons whose particular types of movements are legally-defined, such as smuggled migrants; as well as those whose status or means of movement are not specifically defined under international law, such as international students.

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3. What is Asylum? Who is an Asylee/Asylum-Seeker?

According to the UN Refugee Agency, Asylum is a form of protection which allows an individual to remain in the United States instead of being removed (deported) to a country where he or she fears persecution or harm. Under U.S. law, people who flee their countries because they fear persecution can apply for asylum. If they are granted asylum, this gives them protection and the right to stay in the United States. Those who are granted asylum are called asylees.

Note: According to U.S. immigration law, a refugee is someone who has been resettled to the United States through the U.S. resettlement program. This is a separate process than asylum. For more information on resettled refugees, please see Rights and Duties of Refugees.

To apply for asylum in the U.S., you must be physically present in the U.S. or be seeking entry into the U.S. at a port of entry.

Persecution can be harm or threats of harm to you or your family or to people similar to you. A person can also obtain asylum if he or she has suffered persecution in his or her country in the past.

You only can win asylum if at least one of the reasons someone harmed or may harm you is because of your race, religion, nationality, political opinion (or a political opinion someone thinks you have), or the fact that you are part of a “particular social group.”

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4. Who is a Refugee?

According to U.S. immigration law, a refugee is someone who has been resettled to the United States through the U.S. resettlement program. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services states that a refugee is someone who “Is located outside of the United States; is of special humanitarian concern to the United States; demonstrates that they were persecuted or fear persecution due to race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group; is not firmly resettled in another country; and is admissible to the United States.”

Refugees are required to respect the laws and regulations of the United States.

Refugees should receive at least the same rights and basic help as any other foreigner who is a legal resident, including freedom of thought, of movement, and freedom from torture and degrading treatment.

For further information regarding family, work, and other rights and duties of refugees, please visit the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services page on Refugees.

What is Humanitarian or Significant Public Benefit Parole for Individuals Outside the United States: Individuals who are outside of the United States may be able to request parole into the United States based on urgent humanitarian or significant public benefit reasons.

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5. What is DACA or the Dreamer Act?

According to US Citizenship and Immigration Services: 

A2: On June 15, 2012, the secretary of homeland security announced that certain people who came to the United States as children and meet several key guidelines may request consideration of deferred action for a period of 2 years, subject to renewal, and, if approved, will then be eligible for work authorization if they can demonstrate economic necessity. On Aug. 30, 2022, DHS issued the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Final Rule to preserve and fortify the DACA policy. This rule, which puts into effect regulations at 8 CFR 236.21-236.25, rescinds and replaces the DACA guidance set forth in the 2012 Napolitano Memorandum. The final rule is effective as of Oct. 31, 2022.

Individuals who can demonstrate through verifiable documentation that they meet these guidelines will be considered for deferred action. We will make determinations on a case-by-case basis under the DACA final rule.

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6. What is Title 42?

According to Pew Research: Title 42 refers to a rarely used section of the U.S. Code that dates to 1944. The law empowers federal health authorities to prohibit migrants from entering the country if it is determined that doing so could prevent the spread of contagious diseases.

The CDC invoked Title 42 at the beginning of the U.S. coronavirus outbreak in March 2020, giving Border Patrol agents the authority to swiftly expel migrants trying to enter the U.S. instead of allowing them to seek asylum within the country, as had long been the policy before the pandemic. Migrants expelled from the U.S. under Title 42 are returned to their home country or most recent transit country.

Part of the rationale for invoking Title 42 was to avoid holding migrants in crowded U.S. immigration facilities as the highly transmissible coronavirus was spreading. But some advocates, elected officials and others have criticized the policy as more of an effort to restrict immigration to the U.S. than a public health strategy.

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7. What is Temporary Protected Status (TPS)?

According to the Immigration Forum: 

Temporary Protected Status (TPS) is granted by the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (Secretary) 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.

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8. What is Deferred Action?

According to the US Citizenship and Immigration Services:  

A1: Deferred action is a discretionary determination to defer removal of an individual as an act of prosecutorial discretion. For purposes of future inadmissibility based on prior periods of unlawful presence in the United States, an individual is not considered to be unlawfully present during the period when deferred action is in effect. An individual who has received deferred action is authorized by DHS to be in the United States for the duration of the deferred action period.  Deferred action recipients are also considered to be lawfully present as described in 8 C.F.R. sec. 1.3(a)(4)(vi) for purposes of eligibility for certain public benefits (such as certain Social Security benefits) during the period of deferred action. However, deferred action does not confer lawful immigration status upon an individual, nor does it excuse any previous or subsequent periods of unlawful presence they may have.

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9. What is Welcome Corp?

According to the US Department of State: 

The Department of State, in collaboration with the Department of Health and Human Services, is pleased to announce the creation of the Welcome Corps, a new private sponsorship program that empowers everyday Americans to play a leading role in welcoming refugees arriving through the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) and supporting their resettlement and integration as they build new lives in the United States. Over the past year, the American people have extended an extraordinarily welcoming hand to our Afghan allies, Ukrainians displaced by war, and Venezuelans and others fleeing violence and oppression. The Welcome Corps will build on Americans’ generosity of spirit by creating a durable program for Americans in communities across the country to privately sponsor refugees from around the world. The Welcome Corps is the boldest innovation in refugee resettlement in four decades.

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10. What is an unauthorized resident immigrant?

The unauthorized resident immigrant population is defined as all foreign-born non-citizens who are not legal residents. Most unauthorized residents either entered the United States without inspection or were admitted temporarily and stayed past the date they were required to leave. Unauthorized immigrants applying for adjustment to LPR status under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) are unauthorized until they have been granted lawful permanent residence, even though they may have been authorized to work. Persons who are beneficiaries of Temporary Protected Status (TPS)—an estimated several hundred thousand—are not technically unauthorized but were excluded from the legally resident immigrant population because data are unavailable in sufficient detail to estimate this population.

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11. What is a Lawful Permanent Resident?

Lawful permanent residents (LPRs), also known as “green card” holders, are non-citizens who are lawfully authorized to live permanently within the United States. LPRs may accept an offer of employment without special restrictions, own property, receive financial assistance at public colleges and universities, and join the Armed Forces. They also may apply to become U.S. citizens if they meet certain eligibility requirements. The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) provides several broad classes of admission for foreign nationals to gain LPR status, the largest of which focuses on admitting immigrants for the purpose of family reunification. Other major categories include economic and humanitarian immigrants, as well as immigrants from countries with relatively low levels of immigration to the United States.

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