Lawful Status, Authorized Stay and Unlawful Presence: Related, But Unique Concepts You Need to Know

Lawful status, period of authorized stay, and unlawful presence are all terms that in the immigration context, refer to related, yet unique concepts. It is crucial to understand these concepts as they can have a major impact on the success of one’s immigration case or petition.  Lawful Status All U.S. citizens and U.S. nationals have lawful status in the United States. Lawful status is not restricted only to citizens and nationals. Foreign nationals who have been allowed to enter the U.S. on a temporary or permanent basis also enjoy lawful status within the U.S. For example, a legal permanent resident or a foreign national holding an H-1B visa will also have lawful status. For foreign nationals, lawful status is generally demonstrated by two prongs: a valid I-94 and acting within the confines of their issued visa. An unexpired I-94 shows that a foreign national has entered the U.S. legally through inspections. Additionally, a foreign national must adhere to the parameters of their visa. For example, with a few exceptions, a student in the U.S. on a F visa must not work to remain in lawful status.  Authorized Period of Stay While the term sounds interchangeable with lawful status, a period […]
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