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The Basics

Here are the main types of immigration statuses:

CITIZEN

Becoming a U.S. citizen gives you the right to vote, live and work anywhere in the U.S., and sponsor family members for immigration.

HUMANITARIAN OPTIONS

Immigration options for victims of certain serious crimes (such as domestic violence, human trafficking, and felonious assault).

DEFERRED ACTION

A temporary relief from removal and employment authorization. Keep your work permit, and have the right to work legally until your work permit’s expiration date.

LEGAL PERMANENT RESIDENT (GREEN CARD)

Non-citizen who has been granted the right to live and work permanently in the United States. They have many of the same rights such as the right to work, live, and travel freely within the United States.

NON-IMMIGRANT VISAS

Immigration options for victims of certain serious crimes (such as domestic violence, human trafficking, and felonious assault).

 

UNDOCUMENTED

A foreign-born individual who is living in the United States without a valid visa or other documentation that allows them to live and work in the United States.

Know your rights!

IF YOU ARE QUESTIONED BY POLICE
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You have the right to ask the officer if you are being arrested or detained.

    • If the officer says, “NO, you are not being arrested or detained,” ask the officer if you may leave. When the officer says that you may leave, slowly and calmly walk away.
    • If the officer says, “YES, you are being arrested or detained”...
      YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO REMAIN SILENT!

IF YOU ARE UNDOCUMENTED
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  • Do not answer any questions or say only “I need to speak to my lawyer.”
  • If you have valid immigration status documents, show it. Always carry them with you.
  • Do not say anything about where you were born or how you entered the United States.
  • Do not carry papers from another country. (If you do, the government can use this information in a deportation proceeding).

IMPORTANT!
In some states, it is a minor crime not to provide your name when asked by a police officer. However, remember that providing your name has risks, and that your name can be used to start a deportation process.

IF IMMIGRATION OR POLICE COME TO YOUR HOME
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Immigration officers may NOT enter your home without permission unless they have a warrant. A warrant is a legal document signed by a judge giving the officer permission specifically to enter your home or make an arrest. If an officer knocks on your door:

  • Do not open the door. Ask the officer through the closed door to identify himself.
  • The officer might say that he is with “Department of Homeland Security,” or “U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE” No matter what, keep the door closed.
  • Through the closed door, ask the officer if he has a warrant. If he says “Yes,” still do not open the door. Ask him to show you the warrant by slipping it under the door.
  • When examining the warrant, look for your name, address and a signature. This can help you decide whether or not the warrant is valid.
  • If the warrant the officer shows you looks valid, you should go outside to talk to the officer. You have the right not to let the officer enter your home. This is especially important if you live with other people who might be undocumented.
  • Do not sign any papers. Tell the officer you want to talk to a lawyer before you say anything. Make sure not to carry any false documents with you at any time.

KEEP LEARNING

Learn more about how to react with immigration officers and know your rights!

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