How the Law Uses Your Legal Status to Define You

Immigration Law book with court gavel

The United States is the world’s most influential and leading country. This worldwide superpower is the most dominant in military and economic power. As the center of entertainment, music, TV made cultural imprints all over the world.

A survey revealed that over 750 million people in the world would migrate if they had the chance. 14% of respondents wish to move to the US. When moving to the US, there may be times when you need to show proof of legal status.

Do you want to know more about your legal status? Even as a current US resident, you may not see how this affects you. Here’s what you need to learn more about your legal status.

Legal Status Definition

Legal status defines the standing of an entity. It may refer to your citizenship or marital status. It considers the capacity to carry out activities that carry legal responsibility.

What Counts as Proof of Legal Status

When residing in the US, there may be times that you need to present proof of legal status. There are several ways to prove your legal status. Read on to discover some options that you can use as proof of legal status.

For US Citizens

US citizens have legal permission to work and live in the country indefinitely. As a citizen, you may use any of your present documents. These will prove your legal status and identify how you obtained your citizenship.

  • Birth certificate if born in the US
  • Form N-600 (Certificate of Citizenship) and Form FS-240 (Consular Report of Birth Abroad) if born outside of the US
  • In naturalized citizen, Certificate of Citizenship or Certificate of Naturalization

You may add to these documents. In addition to any of the documents listed above, you may show a United States passport. You may also present your SSN (Social Security Number) or a Social Security card.

For Non-US Citizens

Are you a non-immigrant? Non-immigrants can present several documents to establish their legal presence. Here are some documents to prove your legal status in the US.

Permanent Resident Card

A permanent resident card (Form 1-551) shows that you are a green cardholder. With this, you have legal permission to work and live in the United States on a permanent basis. You may use both old and new versions of the green card to prove your legal status.

The latest version of the green card contains your name and birthdate. It also contains your photo to serve as photo identification. It will also have your USCIS (US Citizenship and Immigration Services) number.
With this, it will also show the document’s expiration date. You may also see a laser fingerprint. Older versions consist of the same information along with your A-number (alien registration number).

Employment Authorization Card

An EAD or employment authorization card is otherwise known as your work permit. It gives non-immigrants the authorization to work in the US on a temporary basis. This card shows your photo on the front and back.

It contains your name, USCIS number, and EAD number, and expiration date of the document. It will also show your birthdate and fingerprints.


There are two passports that you may show to prove your legal status. First, you may show a Passport of the Federated States of Micronesia or from the Republic of the Marshal Islands. Citizens from here have legal permission to work in the United States.

The US does not require employment authorization from them. In addition, you may present a Form 194A or Form I-94. You may also show a foreign passport with an MRIV or I-551.

Form I-20

Form I-20 is for those who qualify for a Non-immigrant Status. With Form I-20, you must also bring either your Form I094A or I-94. A designated school must endorse the document to verify employment authorization.

Form DS-2019

Form DS-2019 illustrates the Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor Status. A non-immigrant exchange visitor may use this to verify their legal status. Accompany this document with Form I-94A or Form I-94.

Form I-94 or Form I-94A

Officials from Customs and Border Protection may issue this document to non-immigrants. This will indicate your immigration status. It will also show when your status expires.

Here are other documents that you can use to prove your legal status.

  • A valid reentry permit (Form I-327)
  • A notice of action (Form I-797)
  • Refugee Travel Document (Form I-571)
  • Certificate from the HHS (Department of Health and Human Services)
  • Certificate from the ORR (Office of Refugee Resettlement)
  • Administrative Order by US Department of Homeland Security

You may also show a document issued by the federal government that shows you are a native American. For non-US citizens under the age of 18, you may show an eligibility letter issued by the ORR.

When Do You Need Proof of Legal Status

You may need to show proof of legal status when applying. Here are some of the most common instances when you need to show proof.

  • Employment (valid employment authorizations document or valid visa)
  • Health Insurance
  • Opening a bank account (checkings or savings)
  • Applying for a loan (auto, mortgage, student, or personal)
  • Interactions with law enforcement officials
  • CBD legal status
  • Driving license

Here are some common instances that call for proof of legal status. If you ever run into issues like conviction or denial, you can contact an immigration attorney. You may also inquire them about employment or the application process.

Discover Even More About Your Legal Status

You may or may not realize how your legal status affects you. Here’s what you need to know regarding your legal status. Citizens and non-citizen may use this as a guide to understanding legal status in the US.

Here are some documents that you can use to prove your legal status. Each situation varies. Remember to get the right document for your situation.

Of course, there’s a lot more to learn when it comes to your legal status in and out of the country. Fortunately, we’ve got you covered. Don’t hesitate to keep reading our guides right here to learn more!

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