Previous research has demonstrated that undocumented Latinx immigrants in the USA report worse physical health outcomes than documented immigrants. Some studies suggest that immigration-related stress and healthcare related-stress may explain this relationship, but none have tested it empirically. The purpose of this study was to determine if immigration-related stress and healthcare-related stress in the USA explain the relationship between documentation status and physical health among Latinx immigrants in North Carolina. The conceptual model was tested utilizing baseline data from a longitudinal, observational, community-engaged research study of young adult (18–44 years) Latinx immigrants residing in North Carolina (N = 391). Structural equation modeling was used to determine relationships among documentation status, healthcare, and immigration stress in the past six months, and self-rated physical health. Goodness-of-fit measures indicated that data fit the model well (RMSEA = .008; CFI = 1.0; TLI = .999; SRMR = .02; CD = .157). Undocumented individuals were more likely to experience immigration stress than their documented counterparts (
= − 0.37, p < 0.001). Both immigration stress (
= − 0.22, p < 0.01) and healthcare stress (
= − 0.14, p < 0.05) were negatively related to physical health. Additionally, immigration stress was positively related to healthcare stress (
= 0.72, p < 0.001). Results demonstrate that documentation status is an important social determinant of health. Passage of inclusive immigration and healthcare policies may lessen the stress experienced by Latinx immigrants and subsequently improve physical health.