Immigrant Defined

June, 2020

An immigrant is a person who chooses to resettle in another country. Immigrants come to the U.S. with the intention of living permanently here. Various terms are synonymous for those granted “documented” immigrant status by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS): Green Card Holder; Immigrant; Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR); Resident Alien.

Facts You Should Know

  • Any noncitizen who enters the United States legally has either an immigrant or non-immigrant status.
  • Examples of non-immigrants are those who come to the U.S. on a temporary basis, such as those who come for tourism, business, temporary employment or to study. Once a person comes to the U.S. as a nonimmigrant, that person is generally restricted to the activity for which he or she was allowed entry and will usually be limited as to the time the person may remain in the U.S..
  • The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 (INA) gives preference to certain categories of individuals in determining who will be admitted as immigrants to the U.S. Priority is given to relatives of U.S. citizens, relatives of LPRs and to individuals with valuable employment-related skills.
  • Refugees are also a preferential category under the INA. 
 (For more information, refer to the Fact Sheet on Refugees.)
  • The INA establishes a per-country limitation, mandating that immigrants from any single country cannot exceed 7% of the total number of immigrants admitted in any fiscal year. Conversely, the INA sets aside a prescribed number of visas for immigrants from countries that have had low rates of immigration over the past 5 years.
  • LPRs can apply for U.S. citizenship after 5 years, or 3 years for certain classes.
  • According to the U.S. Census Bureau, from 2011-15 foreign-born individuals constituted 10.6% of the population of St. Petersburg and 11.6% of Pinellas County residents.

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