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Definition - What does Immigrant mean?

An immigrant is a person who moves from their place of origin where they have citizenship and enters a different country with the intent of living there permanently. Immigrants can further be classified as legal and illegal immigrants. Legal immigrants have entered their new country only after requesting and receiving the proper visa and clearance to enter the new country. An illegal immigrant is a person who enters a new country with the intention of permanently living there but has not requested permission to do so.

In the United States, immigrants must request an immigrant visa, which is issued by the U.S. consular officer, to travel to the United States and apply for admission as a legal permanent resident (LPR). All decisions for immigration are made by an immigration inspector of U.S. Customs and Border Protection of the Department of Homeland Security. If an immigrant is issued a permanent resident card (also called a green card) they generally have the right to work and live in the United States.

Immigrant visas may be issued to immediate relatives: spouse of a U.S. citizen (IR1 visa), child of a U.S. citizen (IR2 visa) and parent of a U.S. citizen who is at least 21 years of age (IR5 visa). Other conditional immigrant visas may also be granted to children and spouses. Permanent residents may also have family members who may request immigrant visas including spouses, children, unmarried sons or daughters over the age of 21, and fiances.

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