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Overview of South Carolina immigration laws

Federal legislation, along with laws enacted in South Carolina, provide extensive information on a person's immigration status and on the rights they receive based on that status. The government addresses checks through employers, E-verify laws, voting, restrictions on government benefits, law enforcement checks and background information obtained by educational institutions.

When a law-enforcement agency is involved with a person's immigration status, they need to enforce existing federal laws. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is the agency that oversees federal immigration. If an undocumented worker is employed by a private business, the state Department of Labor should notify ICE of their location and work status. In addition, all private and public businesses and employers need to use E-verify to confirm the eligibility of someone with a green card.

An individual must also give a valid Social Security Number in order to be eligible for a driver's license or a state identification card. They also need to supply this identification or another valid ID, such as a passport or a military ID, if they want to vote. Only eligible residents, such as someone with a student visa card, can attend a public higher-education institution or qualify for a state-funded scholarship. However, a non-qualified resident can qualify for public benefits with no restrictions although they may not receive no-cost medical care except in an emergency. They are eligible for emergency care at a state-funded hospital or medical clinic. They are not limited by any housing ordinances, and federal law protects people against discrimination in housing due to race or religion.

Complex immigration laws can be difficult for people to understand. If someone is seeking citizenship, they might ask for help from an immigration lawyer, especially if they want their whole family to obtain residency.

Source: USCIS, "Green Card for a Family Member of a U.S. Citizen", October 07, 2014

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