Could I be forced to leave the U.S.?
Yes. If you are not a United States citizen, you may be forced to return to the country where you were born, or last resided, regardless of how long you have lived here in the U.S . The process of being sent away from the U.S. is called “deportation” or “removal.”
If you are undocumented you are always at risk of deportation.
If you have an application pending with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, you should be safe from being deported until a decision about your application has been made.
If you have legal immigration status, such as a green card, you are not generally at risk of removal, but you may be removed if you are convicted of certain crimes, or violate an immigration law.
What is a “green card”?
A “green card” is a Permanent Resident Card, which is an I.D. card issued by the United States government. (The card is not actually green; “green card” is just a commonly-used nickname). If you have a green card, you are a Lawful Permanent Resident, which means that you are an immigrant who is legally allowed to work and live in the United States. Even with a green card, however, you do not have all of the same protections and access to benefits as a U.S. citizen.
Do I need a green card?
Yes. If you are not a U.S. citizen, you need a green card.
The most important reason to become a lawful resident of the U.S. is so that you may remain in the country. Without a green card, you may be forced to leave the United States. People who are deported are sent to their home country and cannot return to the U.S. for at least 10 years.
What can I do with a green card?
When you have a green card, you can feel more secure in living, working or getting an education in the United States!
If I am undocumented, do I have any rights while I am living in the United States?
Yes. You still have rights to fair treatment and many services. If you feel that your rights have been violated, or if you have questions about your rights, contact your law guardian, who can help you. Some of your rights include:
Is it possible for me to visit my home country?
No, not if you are undocumented. If you don’t have legal immigration status and you leave the country, you may be prevented from entering again and could even be prevented from returning to the United States for up to 10 years. This means that if you are unsure of your immigration status, you should not travel outside the country without first talking to an immigration attorney.