- I am an immigrant in the United States who entered with a student visa. A friend of mine asked me if I am in status. I answered “Yes. I have a visa.” Then I started thinking – are the words “Visa” and “In Status” synonym?
- No. ” In status” is typically reflected in the visa, but “visa and in status” are two vastly different things.
When someone wishes to come to the U.S. temporarily (whether for a number of weeks as in the case of a tourist, an international student or a number of years as in the case of an H-1B worker), he or she must obtain a “visa” to enter the U.S. When admitted into the country -at an air, land or sea port, also referred to as port of entry- the individual obtains a status.
Let’s take the example of an international student. Before the student arrives in to the United States, she must apply for a visa at the U.S. embassy abroad. She submits the applications and the supporting documents. Once the visa application is approved, the student receives her visa. The “visa” is the adhesive label covering one entire page of the passport. This is often referred as the “visa stamp.”
Each “visa” has its own classification. Every “visa classification” has a set of requirements that the visa holder must follow and maintain. Those who follow the requirements maintain their status and ensue their ability to remain in the United States. Those who do not follow the requirements violates their status and are considered “out of status”. “In Status” means you are in compliance with the requirements of your visa type under the immigration law.
Therefore, it is important to understand the concept of immigration status and the consequences of violating that status.