“Resident Alien” is the term that is used to refer to the non-US citizens living in the United States. Permanent residents, returning residents and the conditional residents are also referred to as resident aliens.
Permanent resident aliens are the foreign nationals who get into the United States as lawful permanent residents. These permanent residents are also known as immigrants. Only the non US citizens living in the United States as permanent residents and who hold US Green Cards are known as permanent resident aliens.
To travel to the United States as a permanent resident, one must obtain an immigrant visa. Immigrant visas are the visas granted to those who wish to settle in the United States and are permanent visas. There are few different ways to get these visas. A foreigner can get this permanent visa if he/she is sponsored by his/her family member or a US employer. Lawful permanent residents are those who have been granted the privilege to reside permanently in the United States.
One can get into the United States as a permanent resident by applying for and obtaining an immigrant visa from the US Department of State or by adjusting status to lawful resident status while in the United States as a non-immigrant. Foreigners who enter into the United States as permanent residents are referred to as “aliens” by the Immigration and Nationality Act(INA). However, the non-immigrants who hold temporary non-immigrant visas are not called “aliens”.
It must be remembered that people who enter into the United States without inspection, illegally are not permanent resident aliens. They are referred to as immigrants under the INA. They are also known as undocumented immigrants and they are not authorized to live legally in the United States.
“Green Card Holders” and “Resident Alien Permit Holders” are the other terms used to refer to the permanent residents. They are the foreigners who have been granted ten year Green Cards and granted the privilege to live legally in the country.
The other group of immigrants who hold two year Green Cards with conditions are the “Conditional Residents”. These conditional residents can live legally in America for a two year period and, at the end of that two year period, they need to file applications to remove conditions on their cards to get ten year permanent resident cards.
Special immigrants or the returning residents are the permanent residents who have been outside the United States for more than 180 days and who are returning to America. Permanent residents who stay abroad for more than 180 days need to obtain permits to re-enter the United States.
Those who seek to remain abroad for more than a year need to obtain re-entry permits prior to their departure without which they will not be granted entry into the United States after their trip abroad. Likewise, people who live abroad beyond the validity period of their re-entry permits need to obtain returning resident visas to re-enter the United States. These residents are known as returning residents.
Updated On 6/6/2018