What is Meant by Illegal Immigration?

The definition of illegal immigration in the Cambridge dictionary is ‘someone who lives or works in another country when they do not have the legal right to do this’.

You might be wondering how people actually get into a foreign country without permission. After all, shouldn’t the right checks be done beforehand? And surely a person cannot get past border control if they don’t have a right to be there?

How Do People Get into Another Country Illegally?

Sometimes, people will enter a country on a short-term tourist visa. They may have permission to be in a country for a set period of time, but they are not permitted to work there and are expected to return to their own country or another country before their visa expires. For assorted reasons, some people decide to stay in a country beyond their visa. If they do this, they are classed as being there illegally as their visa will be canceled or voided.

Take the United States for example. Under the Department of Homeland Security’s Visa Waiver Program, citizens of 40 different countries are permitted to enter the U.S. for tourism or business for a period of up to 90 days without applying for a visa.

But it is not just people on a short-term visa that might end up staying in a country illegally. In fact, smuggling is one of the most common ways that people might get into another country without permission.

It can sometimes be difficult for a country to police its entire border, which means that those intentionally trying to enter a country illegally can often find a way. Smuggling is big business and is affecting countries throughout the world, including the United States.

What are the Consequences of Being in a Country Illegally?

Here in the United States, there are different consequences depending on the circumstances and how a person has entered the country. For example, under immigration law, a person might be banned from re-entering the U.S. for between three and ten years for overstaying their visa. According to the experts at Graham Adair (, in some instances the individual might be permanently banned.

In the case of those who have entered illegally without any documentation, there is a risk of detention and deportation.

Can Illegal Immigrants Get a Green Card?

Although it may be possible for an illegal immigrant to get a green card, the process is much more difficult than it is when applying from outside of the States. It is advisable not to exceed the date stamped on your passport because this can make it more difficult to be granted a green card. However, if you are trying to gain legal permanent resident (LPR) status as an illegal alien, there are a few options.

For example, if you were to get married to a U.S. citizen or someone with LPR status, you can apply for a green card. If you have stayed in the country past the date stamped on your visa, you have a better chance of being given a green card than if you entered without any documentation.

If you have entered as an undocumented immigrant, you may be able to get a green card if you apply for asylum. Another way is to serve in the U.S. military during a time of conflict. You would, however, still need to meet certain criteria.

To conclude, an illegal immigrant is someone who has entered a country without the required documentation or permission or someone who has stayed in the country longer than the date stamped on their tourist visa. Those found in the country illegally will usually face consequences, such as deportation or a ban on re-entering.

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