The term “immigrant” is used generally to refer to anyone who has a permanent residence card and plans to stay in the United States for an extended period of time, but is not yet a legal citizen. We tend to think of immigrants as individuals who have moved to America and are in the process of applying for citizenship.

However, legally, the term immigrant refers to any person who is not an American citizen and who is in the country for any visa other than a specifically non-immigrant visa. There is a distinction in the United States between legal and illegal immigrants. Legal immigrants are current on their visas and are following the rules set forth by the visa that allowed them to visit the United States, which can include becoming a permanent resident and living and working in the United States.

Individuals who enter the country without a visa or who stay in the country after their visas have expired are said to be illegal immigrants. For more information and assistance with immigration in Washington State, it may be advisable to speak with an experienced attorney.

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