If you pay attention to the news stories, you have likely heard discussions about undocumented immigrants. It may make you wonder how undocumented immigrants come to the country and why they do not apply for citizenship once they are here.
The American Immigration Council explains that it is not as easy to apply to become a citizen as you may think because there are only three paths a person can take: employment, family reunification, humanitarian protection.
Challenges and roadblocks
Immigration and becoming a citizen is a highly regulated process. There are many limits in place that allow only a certain number of people to enter the country. There are even more limits when it comes to qualifying for a certain type of visa. Family reunification, for example, requires specific relationships.
There is also a need for someone in the U.S. to provide you sponsorship unless you are seeking asylum or other humanitarian protection. Your sponsor has to show he or she is financially sound enough to support you.
The main issue that holds people back from securing documentation is that they have essentially no path to a legal status. They do not have family who can act as a sponsor or employment connections to allow them a work visa.
For those who are already in the country, there is another issue. Anyone in the country who is undocumented cannot get a green card unless they leave the country first. Having to leave the country is often not a valid option for people, so even if they found a sponsor, they would not be able to secure documentation.