If you are a foreign resident living or working within the United States, your immigration status is vital. It determines your right to work, receive public benefits, or even remain in the country lawfully.

Knowing and understanding your current status is important, whether you are a lawful permanent resident or are seeking a green card for the first time. With the help of a knowledgeable immigration attorney, you could learn more about your status and take the necessary steps to comply with immigration law. If you have any further questions about determining your immigration status in Boston and how it may affect your life, do not hesitate to contact our firm today.

Checking the Status of an Immigration Application

The process of applying for and receiving a green card can be confusing for many foreign residents. This process is often long, and it typically lacks transparency. An immigration case could be seemingly idle for months or years without any word from the federal government. It is not unusual during this time for those with applications to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to wonder about their status, or to have an ambiguous status. A missed notice or expired deadline could result in a disappointing outcome in an immigration case.

Thankfully, there are steps that applicants can take to check the status of their immigration case. These steps can reduce frustration and provide applicants with a clear picture of where their immigration case stands. The simplest way to determine a person’s status is to visit the Case Status online tool provided and maintained by USCIS.

Using this online tool is simple. An applicant only requires their submission “Receipt Number.” This is a 13-digit code that is included on every notice sent by USCIS in an immigration case. Looking up the status of a case will not impact the outcome positively or negatively. It can, however, give an applicant a picture of what should be done if they are surprised by the case status. An experienced immigration attorney serving Boston could help provide context to the status information provided by the tool, especially if there is

Your Immigration Status Protects Against Deportation and Removal

Your immigration status dictates your rights and privileges to live in the United States legally. A foreign resident living or working in the United States is safe from facing deportation or removal if their lawful residency status or nonimmigrant is current. We call this being “in status.”

For lawful permanent residents, their green card represents a bundle of rights that includes avoiding removal from the country and the ability to cross the borders of the United States. The green card also provides a foreign resident with the right to work in the United States. A lawful permanent resident’s status usually cannot be terminated except by the Immigration Court.

Non-resident aliens often to their status by the type of visa they were granted. For example, an undergraduate student visa holder would say that they are in “F-1 status.” When a person overstays their visa, or if they violate the terms of their visa, they are said to have gone “out of status.”

Citizenship is the ultimate protection against deportation. While visas can be revoked and permanent residents can be deported, citizens have substantially more rights. These rights are powerful, but they are also not simple to obtain. The path to citizenship is challenging—especially without the guidance of an experienced Boston immigration attorney.

Ambiguous Status

Sometimes, a non-resident is allowed to remain physically present inside the United States pending a change to a different status, or pending the outcome of a green card application. Special rules may apply based on the situation. For example, a person may have entered in B-2 Visitor status, but then applied to change status to an F-1 Student. This person can remain in the United States while the change of status is pending.

Similarly, a person in F-1 status that expires in July, but cannot start work on an approved H-1B status until October 1, may be able to get “cap-gapped” protection to remain in the United States until their start date.

Also, there may be programs for people who entered the United States without status, but later are granted protection from deportation. For example, the Temporary Protected Status program gives the right to work and protection from deportation, but people with Temporary Protected Status are not “in status” for legal purposes, adding to additional ambiguity

Talk to a Boston Attorney About Determining Your Immigration Status

If you or someone you love is involved in an immigration case, it is understandable for you to be curious about the status. The online tool offered by the USCIS can provide updates, but any further steps should be made in conjunction with seasoned legal counsel. Contact an attorney at our firm right away for help with determining immigration status in Boston.