Lawful immigrants and working in the U.S.

America’s lawful immigrant population is made up of three main types of individuals:

  • Foreign-born individuals who have become naturalized U.S. citizens.
  • People who have green cards, and thus are lawful permanent residents of the United States.
  • Individuals who are in the U.S. on a temporary visa.

Of the estimated 33.8 million lawful immigrants who were in America in 2015, over half fell into the naturalized citizen category. Green card holders made up the next largest portion, while temporary visa holders made up the smallest portion.

One thing statistics on lawful immigrants in the U.S. point to is there being a great number of working age adults in this group. Of lawful immigrants in the U.S. in 2014, an estimated 76 percent were within the 18 to 64 age group. This is good deal higher than the percentage among U.S. born individuals, which was 60 percent. Given that many lawful immigrants to the U.S. are of working age, employment-related issues are ones that can matter a great deal for this group.

What sort of issues related to working in the U.S. are present for a lawful immigrant depends on which of the three above-mentioned categories of immigrants they are in.

As U.S. citizens, individuals who have successfully gone through the naturalization process are fully authorized to work in the United States. Also, green card holders have authorization to work in America.

The situation is different, however, for individuals in the U.S. on a temporary visa. Not all temporary visa holders are allowed to work in America. Rather, whether they are allowed to work depends on what particular visa they are in the United States on.

Skilled immigration law attorneys can advise individuals seeking a particular type of immigration status in the U.S. on what impacts having this status would have. This includes what impacts it would have regarding their ability to work in the United States.

Source: Pew Research Center, “5 key facts about U.S. lawful immigrants,” D’Vera Cohn, Aug. 3, 2017