Most immigration happens through family members who are either citizens or lawful permanent residents of the United States. To determine if there are any options available for an undocumented immigrant to obtain legal status, family is the first place to look. We want to see, first of all, if they are the immediate relatives of US citizens. Immediate relatives of US citizens include their spouses, minor children and their parents, but only when the US citizen is over the age of twenty-one.
The first thing, though, is to define “undocumented”; what is an undocumented immigrant? Undocumented immigrants are lumped together under other labels, too, such as “illegal immigrants”, “illegal aliens” or simply “illegals”. Our choice to refer to those in the country without authorization as being “undocumented” come from an understanding that actions are illegal, not people. Undocumented immigrants might be in the country illegally, but they themselves are not illegal.
There are a variety of different pathways to legal status for undocumented immigrants. In order to be able to determine what is possible requires information on a variety of subjects. While it is true that not everyone can be helped, knowing an individual’s background can help determine what, if anything, can be done.