Ask an Expert Questions and Answers

Is someone’s immigration status public record?

Question: We need to check the immigration status of someone who has been convicted of a crime.  We want to find out if he currently has a green card or if his green card has been revoked as a result of the sentence. How do we find this out?

Answer: Immigration status is not public record, even at citizenship ceremonies. The ceremonies are open to the public but the names of the new citizens are not public record. Even at ceremonies where names are announced in public, those people have probably agreed to that beforehand and they were special applicants, like a foreign-born sports star or a war veteran whose naturalization had been made a symbolic cause celebre by United States Citizenship and Immigration Service. Generally speaking, the only time immigration status can be publicly released is after the person is deceased and only if their status has no bearing on living relatives. (Thanks to Mark Horvit, executive director of Investigative Reporters and Editors, for supplying this answer.)

By Mark Horvit

Mark Horvit is head the state government reporting program for the University of Missouri School of Journalsim. He is the former executive director of Investigative Reporters and Editors. A native of Texas, Mark also worked as projects editor at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. His journalism career includes reporting and editing duties at The News Herald (Panama City, Fla.), Corpus Christi (Texas) Caller-Times, The Houston Post, Columbia (Mo.) Daily Tribune and The Charlotte (N.C.) Observer.