Migrant vs. Immigrant

The difference between the reporting of the migration from Syria to Europe highlights a bias in the US media.  The BBC and other media refer to the people moving from one place to another as “Migrants.”  In the US, our media continues to misuse the term “immigrant” referring to people who do not qualify.  That misuse denigrates immigrants.

According to official federal websites, in NO instance is a person in the United States without government authority an “immigrant.”

https://www.irs.gov/Individuals/International-Taxpayers/Immigration-Terms-and-Definitions-Involving-Aliens

Immigrant

An alien who has been granted the right by the USCIS to reside permanently in the United States and to work without restrictions in the United States. Also known as a Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR). All immigrants are eventually issued a “green card” (USCIS Form I-551), which is the evidence of the alien’s LPR status. LPR’s who are awaiting the issuance of their green cards may bear an I-551 stamp in their foreign passports.

Immigrant visas are available for aliens (and their spouses and children) who seek to immigrate based on their job skills. If an alien has the right combination of skills, education, and/or work experience and are otherwise eligible, the alien may be able to live permanently in the United States. Per USCIS, there are five employment-based immigrant visa preferences (categories): EB-1, EB-2, EB-3, EB-4 and EB-5.  Refer to the USCIS Permanent Worker web site for more details.

Nonimmigrant

An alien who has been granted the right by the USCIS to reside temporarily in the United States. Each nonimmigrant is admitted into the United States in the nonimmigrant status, which corresponds to the class of visa with which, or purpose for which, he entered the United States (e.g., a foreign student may enter the United States on an F-1 visa, which corresponds to the F-1 student status in which he was admitted to the United States).

Aliens in some nonimmigrant statuses are allowed to be employed in the United States, and others are not. Some nonimmigrant statuses have rigid time limits for the alien’s stay in the United States, while others do not.

Each nonimmigrant status has rules and guidelines, which must be followed in order for the nonimmigrant to remain “in status.” A nonimmigrant who violates one of these rules or guidelines will fall “out of status.” An nonimmigrant who remains “out of status” for at least 180 days is deportable and will be unable to re-enter the United States for 3 years. A nonimmigrant who remains “out of status” for at least 365 days is deportable and will be unable to re-enter the United States for 10 years.

For more information on the types of visas available, refer to the Department of State’s Questions About Visas web page.

Illegal Alien

Also known as an “Undocumented Alien,” is an alien who has entered the United States illegally and is deportable if apprehended, or an alien who entered the United States legally but who has fallen “out of status” and is deportable.”

https://www.irs.gov/Individuals/International-Taxpayers/Immigration-Terms-and-Definitions-Involving-Aliens

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