Abandonment of Permanent Resident Status
Loss of permanent resident status by taking up a permanent residence outside the United States.
The USCIS process of reviewing and processing applications or petition for immigration benefits.
Adjustment of Status
A process allowing certain foreigners already in the United States to apply for immigrant status. In such cases, the alien is counted as an immigrant as of the date of adjustment, even though the alien may have been in the United States for an extended period of time.
Adjustment of Status Portability
The 180-Day Portability rule allows a foreign national whose permanent residence application is employer-sponsored to change employers 180 days after the filing of adjustment of status as long as the immigrant visa petition is approved provided the new job is in the same or similar occupation.
Affidavit of Support
This is a sworn and notarized document provided by an individual who will provide financial support to a foreign national. There are two types Affidavits of Support: Form I-864 and Form I-134. Form I-864 is a legally-binding contract and is required from sponsors of family-based immigrants. Form I-134 is not legally binding, but is used to show a person's willingness to help pay for a foreign national's expenses while in the United States. Each of these affidavits is to be used correctly in conformity with laws and regulations current at the material time.
A foreigner or any person not a citizen or national of the United States.
Application Support Centers
A USCIS-designated facility to take fingerprints to carry out a FBI fingerprint background check necessary for permanent residence and/or U.S. citizenship.
A document issued by USCIS on adjudication of an application or petition. This decision is issued in the form of a Notice of Action (Form I-797).
B-1 is nonimmigrant visa classification for visitors entering the United States temporarily for business purposes. B2 is the nonimmigrant visa classification for visitors entering the United States for travel.
A foreign national who will be eligible for an immigration benefit (temporary or permanent status) upon approval of an immigrant or nonimmigrant petition. The point to be understood is that the immigration benefit is just considered a benefit and not a right.
A biometric passport is the same as a traditional passport with the addition of a small integrated computer chip embedded in the back cover. The chip stores the same data printed on the passport's data page.
The process by which companies with a substantial physical presence in the United States can pre-qualify to transfer employees to the United States under the L-1 visa category also called intracompany transferee.
Border Crossing Card
A Border Crossing Card is a biometric, machine readable, visitor card that is issued to border country residents (such as those from Canada and Mexico ) so they may enter the United States for a specific period of time.
When removal proceedings are pending, it is the sum of money which the alien posts to be free from detention
Nonimmigrant visa classification for foreign nationals in transit directly through the United States.
Nonimmigrant visa classification for foreign nationals who are in transit as crewmen.
Nonimmigrant visa classification for foreign nationals traveling to the United Nations.
Nonimmigrant visa classification for foreign government official, members of immediate family, attendant, servant, or personal employee, in transit.
Certificate of Naturalization
An official document issued by the Department of Homeland Security establishing that an individual has become a citizen of the United States through Naturalization.
Change of Status
The process of changing from one nonimmigrant (such as F1) status to another (H-1B).
Conditional Permanent Resident
A foreign national granted permanent residence on a conditional basis most often times due to marriage to a U.S. citizen spouse when the marriage is not two years old. At the end of two years, a conditional resident must file a petition to have the condition removed, and if the petition is approved, the person becomes a permanent resident and is issued a card with ten-year validity.
Conrad State 30 Program
A program which allows Health Departments in each state to recommend J-1 waivers based on clinical practice either physically situated in an HPSA or MUA, or where it can be shown that the patients being served reside in an HPSA or MUA.
Country of Chargeability
The country to which a foreign national entering under the preference system is assigned for purposes of numerical limitations. Normally, chargeability is to the country of birth of either the applicant or the applicant's spouse and not the nationality or citizenship.
Curricular Practical Training
Curricular practical training (CPT) is employment required for completion of a student's degree program. It is authorized during the course of study for programs such as alternate work and internships that are required by a course of the student's degree program. For CPT, F-1 students receive authorization from the school, not from USCIS, on the back of the student's Form I-20. J-1 students receive "academic training."
Nonimmigrant visa classification for foreign crewmembers that are on a vessel or aircraft for a "stop-over" in the United States.
Nonimmigrant visa classification for foreign crewmembers that are departing by means other than vessel of arrival.
Deferred inspection--- Authorized at the port upon foreigner’s arrival, may be conferred by an immigration inspector when aliens appear at a port of entry with documentation, but after preliminary examination, some question remains about their admissibility which can be best answered at their point of destination.
Department of Labor
The Cabinet-level department of the Executive Branch responsible for the implementation and enforcement of immigration laws and policies relating to U.S. workforce issues, including the processing of alien employment or labor certification applications.
Department of State
The Executive Branch responsible, also known as State Department, or DOS, for the foreign affairs of the United States, including the immigration functions of U.S. consuls (primarily, the issuance of nonimmigrant and immigrant visas).
Now removal, formerly called as deportation, is a legal proceeding through which a foreign national is removed for violating U.S. laws.
Designated School Official
A person at an educational institution that is responsible for handling immigration issues and has been granted the signatory authority to process immigration paperwork on behalf of students, including the completion of Form I-20, Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status.
Diversity Visa Program
Popularly referred to as the "Green Card Lottery", this annual program offers persons from countries with below-average immigration to the U.S. an opportunity to be randomly selected by a computer-generated drawing to become eligible to apply for permanent residence in the United States.
DS-2019 (formerly IAP-66)
Department of State generated form issued to all exchange visitor (J-1) applicants.
A person who is a citizen of two or more countries at the same time.
Most applicants for nonimmigrant visas must prove that they have the intent to leave the United States after a temporary stay. "Dual intent" is the doctrine (particularly applicable to H and L visa applicants) that a temporary visa applicant may simultaneously have intent to depart the United States at the end of a temporary stay, while also having an intent to remain in the U.S. permanently.
Duration of Status
Length of time for which certain nonimmigrant (diplomats, students, exchange visitors and international organization employees) are allowed to remain in the United States. CBP does not place an expiration date of status onto the I-94 of such nonimmigrant.
Nonimmigrant visa classification for Treaty Traders (E-1) or Treaty Investors (E-2), or employees of companies that qualify as Traders or Investors, and their immediate families. E-1 and E-2 visa applicants must have nationality of a country that has a qualifying treaty with the United States, be the owner or an employee of a company having the same nationality, and be coming to the USA to further the business of that company.
The employment based 1st Preference Immigrant category is designated for "Priority Workers," including Aliens of Extraordinary Ability in the sciences, arts, education, business or athletics; Outstanding Professors and Researchers; and Multinational Managers and Executives. The identifying characteristics of these three categories are that no labor certification is required.
The employment based 2nd Preference Immigrant category is designated for advanced degree professionals and aliens with exceptional ability in the sciences, arts, or business.
The employment based 3rd Preference Immigrant category includes professionals, skilled workers, and unskilled workers. All workers who fall in this category require a job offer and an approved labor certification.
The employment based 4th Preference Immigrant category includes certain special immigrants, particularly religious ministers and workers.
The employment based 5th Preference Immigrant category is for employment creation (investors). This category is for those Investors who invest a minimum of $1 million of capital or $500,000 of capital if the investment is in a "targeted employment area".
The Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates, the organization that verifies the adequacy of the medical training of any physician educated overseas, whether a U.S. citizen or foreign national.
Employment Authorization Document
A photo identification card issued as Form I-766, evidencing the bearer's authorization to be employed in the United States for a specific duration of time.
The requirement established by the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA) that U.S. employers verify the identity and eligibility of all employees (U.S. citizens and aliens) to legally work by the completion of Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification as of the date of hire, including review of documentation presented by the employee to establish identity and employment eligibility. This must be completed within three days of the hiring of new employee.
A foreign national who enters the United States illegally without being inspected by an immigration officer makes an entry without inspection ("EWI"). A foreign national who enters the United States without inspection cannot adjust status from within the United States with the exception of asylum applicants or individuals with applications for adjustment grandfathered in under 245(i).
An E-Passport is a passport with the addition of a small integrated RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) computer chip embedded in the back cover.
Exchange Visitor - J-1 Status
The Exchange Visitor category is also known as "J-1" nonimmigrant status. An alien coming temporarily to the United States as a participant in a program approved by the Secretary of State for the purpose of teaching, instructing or lecturing, studying, observing, conducting research, consulting, demonstrating special skills, or receiving training. Exchange visitors are subject to a two-year home country physical presence requirement after their program if (a) their program was financed by an agency of the U.S. government or their home country government, (b) their field appears on a list of skills needed in their home country, or (c) they came to the United States to receive graduate medical education or training.
Extraordinary ability is defined as a level of expertise indicating that the individual is one of the small percentages who have risen to the very top of a field of endeavor. It is a first preference priority worker category that enables aliens with extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business or athletics to obtain permanent resident status, with or without an offer of employment in the United States and without going through the time consuming and cumbersome labor process.
Nonimmigrant visa classification for foreign students.
Nonimmigrant visa classification for dependents of foreign students
A person who is a citizen or national of a country other than the United States also called an "alien."
Application for Permanent Employment Certification. This DOL form is used for the filing of a labor certification application by a U.S. employer.
Notice of Entry of Appearance as Attorney or Representative. This form is used to provide notice that an attorney will represent an employer or a foreign national in a USCIS matter.
Petition for foreign relatives. This USCIS form is used by a citizen or lawful permanent resident of the United States to establish the relationship to certain relatives who wish to immigrate to the United States.
Application for Travel Document. This USCIS form is used to request a travel document, reentry permit, refugee travel document or advance parole.
Affidavit of Support. This sworn document (not a binding contract) is primarily used in cases involving foreign nationals who must document that they will be financially supported and will not become a public charge to the United States during their stay.
Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker. This USCIS form is filed on behalf of an alien worker to become a permanent resident of the United States.
Form I-20, Certificate of Eligibility for F-1 Student Status
Official document confirming eligibility for F-1 Student Status as well as the duration of student status.
Application for Permanent Residence or to adjust status from within the United States. This USCIS form is submitted by a foreign national wishing to obtain permanent resident status on the basis of an approved immigrant visa petition.
The Permanent Resident Card, a photo identification card issued by USCIS to document that an individual has is "lawfully admitted for permanent residence in the United States ;" i.e., has the authority to live and work in the United States indefinitely.
Application for employment authorization filed on this form with the necessary fee. This application is used to request an Employment Authorization Document ("EAD").
Affidavit of Support. This USCIS sworn document is used to show that the applying immigrant has enough financial support to live without relying on U.S. government welfare.
Employment Eligibility Verification Form. Must be completed within three days of hiring of new employees by the employer.
Form I-94, I-94W
An official record of admission and permission to stay in the United States as a nonimmigrant. The I-94 Arrival/Departure Record is a white-colored paper document indicating how long a visiting national is allowed to stay in the United States.
Application for Naturalization: The form that is filed with the USCIS to apply for U.S. citizenship when a permanent resident alien has fulfilled certain conditions.
The informal name for the card issued as proof of registration as a legal permanent resident of the United States, the Form I-551.
Nonimmigrant visa classification for temporary professional workers in a specialty occupation. This type of visa is great demand for hiring foreign professionals.
The portability rules allow an individual in H-1B status to begin work for a new H-1B employer as soon as the new employer files with USCIS a nonfrivolous petition to extend and amend the H-1B employee's status to reflect the new employer.
Nonimmigrant visa classification for nurses going to work for up to three years in health professional shortage areas.
Nonimmigrant visa classification for temporary agriculture workers whose skills are needed in the United States.
Nonimmigrant visa classification that is available to "temporary workers" of an employer that has a need for services or labor that is a one-time occurrence, a seasonal need, a peak load need or an intermittent need.
Nonimmigrant visa classification for trainees.
Nonimmigrant visa classification for dependent spouses and children of H-1B, H-2 and H-3 nonimmigrants.
An abbreviation for Health Professional Shortage Area, which is an area that has shortages of primary medical care, dental or mental health providers and may be geographic (a county or service area), demographic (low income population) or institutional (comprehensive health center, federally qualified health center or other public facility).
Nonimmigrant classification for journalists, representatives of media and their immediate family.
Immigration Marriage Fraud Amendments of 1986Public Law 99-639(Act of 11/10/86), which was passed in order to deter immigration-related marriage fraud. Its major provision stipulates that aliens deriving their immigrant status based on a marriage of less than two years are conditional immigrants.
Inadmissible ---An alien seeking admission at a port of entry who does not meet the criteria in the INA for admission. The alien may be placed in removal proceedings or, under certain circumstances, allowed to withdraw his or her application for admission.
Interested Government Agency
A U.S. government agency that has decided, pursuant to reasons related to its official mandate, to sponsor J-1 exchange visitors for waivers of the two-year home residence requirement so that those J-1s can participate in activities furthering its official mandate.
Intracompany Transferee (L-1A or L-1B)
Intracompany Transferee---A foreigner employed for at least one continuous year out of the last three by an international firm or corporation, who seeks to enter the United States temporarily in order to continue to work for the same employer or a subsidiary or affiliate, in the capacity that is primarily managerial, executive, or involves specialized knowledge, and the alien’s spouse and minor unmarried children will be coming on dependent visas.
Nonimmigrant visa classification for exchange visitors, who are coming to participate in a program authorized by the Department of State to promote mutual cultural understanding between the United States and their home countries.
Nonimmigrant visa classification for dependents of J-1 exchange visitors. Unlike most nonimmigrant dependents, J-2s are allowed to apply for employment authorization, so long as their employment income is not needed for the support of the J-1.
Nonimmigrant visa classification for a fiancé(e) of a United States Citizen; it requires the fiancé(e) to marry the U.S. citizen within 90 days and process permanent residence only through that U.S. citizen.
Nonimmigrant visa classification for the child of a K-1 fiancé(e) who will qualify to immigrate as the child of the U.S. citizen petitioner once the child's parent marries the U.S. citizen.
Nonimmigrant visa classification for the spouse of a U.S. Citizen; it requires that the spouse have filed an I-130, immediate relative immigrant petition, and then file a separate I-129F. The status is primarily useful when processing of I-130 petitions is severely backlogged.
Nonimmigrant visa classification for the child of a K-3 who will qualify to immigrate as the child of the U.S. citizen petitioner.
Nonimmigrant visa classification for an intracompany transferee who has worked abroad for one year and who is being transferred temporarily to the United States to work in an executive or managerial capacity for a parent, affiliate, subsidiary, or branch in the United States.
Nonimmigrant visa classification for an intracompany transferee with "specialized knowledge" who has worked abroad for one year and is being transferred temporarily to the United States to work in a specialized knowledge capacity for a parent, affiliate, subsidiary, or branch in the United States.
Nonimmigrant visa classification for dependents of L-1 intracompany transferees. Unlike most nonimmigrant dependents, L-2 spouses (but not children) are authorized for employment in the United States and may obtain an Employment Authorization Document to evidence that employment authorization.
A certification issued by the U.S. Department of Labor that there are no qualified U.S. workers able, willing, qualified and available to accept the job in question.
Nonimmigrant visa classification for students at vocational schools or other non-academic students
Nonimmigrant visa classification for dependents of M-1 students
Medically Underserved Area
An area that has shortages of primary medical care, dental or mental health providers and may be geographic (a county or service area), demographic (low income, Medicaid-eligible populations, cultural and/or linguistic access barriers to primary medical care services).
Multiple Entry Visa
A visa which allows the holder to apply to be admitted to the United States on multiple occasions without having to go back to a U.S. consulate for a new visa.
Nonimmigrant visa classification for a parent of a foreign national classified as a SK-3 "Special Immigrant".
Nonimmigrant visa classification of a child of a N-8, SK-1, SK-2, or SK-4 "Special Immigrant".
An abbreviation for the North American Free Trade Agreement. Among its many provisions, it created the TN nonimmigrant category for Canadian and Mexican professionals in certain specified occupations.
National Interest Waiver
A second preference employment-based immigrant category. An NIW is an exemption from the requirements of a job offer and of a labor certification normally imposed on a second preference immigrant, if the immigrant can establish that the exemption would be in the interest of the United States (commonly referenced as the "national interest").
The process by which a person is granted citizenship of a country. Five years after obtaining permanent residence status (three years for a foreign national married to and living with a U.S. citizen), a foreign national can apply for naturalization with the USCIS in order to become a citizen of the U.S. Such applications can be filed three months before completion of five or three years as the case may be.
No Objection Waiver
A type of waiver of the two-year home residence requirement in which the exchange visitor's home country indicates that it does not object if the exchange visitor does not return to that country for the two-year period.
Notice of Action (Form I-797)
A computer generated form designated as Form I-797 that is issued by USCIS as proof that a petition or application is received and in process. It is also referred to as a Receipt Notice or Approval Notice.
Nonimmigrant visa classification for individuals of extraordinary ability in sciences, arts, education, business or athletics, who have risen to the very top of their field of endeavor, or in the case of performing artists, have achieved "distinction."
Nonimmigrant visa classification for essential support personnel accompanying O-1 visa holders, such as a personal trainer accompanying an O-1 athlete.
Nonimmigrant visa classification for the spouse and children of O-1 or O-2 visa holders.
Online Wage Library
The Department of Labor's online searchable database of occupational wages based on the O*NET classification system, which contains wages for at least four different experience levels within each occupation.
Optional Practical Training
Abbreviated "OPT", optional practical training of work authorization that a student may take during schools breaks, while school is in session, after completion of all course requirements except a thesis or dissertation or after completion of studies.
Out of Status
The term describing the failure of a nonimmigrant to maintain a proper nonimmigrant status in the United States, or of a foreign national having entered the United States without inspection and admission.
Nonimmigrant visa classification for individual or team athletes, or entertainment groups.
Nonimmigrant visa classification for artists and entertainers in reciprocal Exchange programs.
Nonimmigrant visa classification for artists and entertainers in culturally unique programs.
Nonimmigrant visa classification for dependents of P-1, P-2, and P-3 visa holders.
A limitation of family-sponsored and employment-based preference visas that can be issued to citizens of any country in a fiscal year.
PERM ("Program Electronic Review Management")
The system by which the Department of Labor accepts and decides labor certification applications, which took effect on March 28, 2005.
A foreign national who has been lawfully admitted to the United States and who has the authority to live and work in the United States on an indefinite basis; a "green card" holder.
The employer, or U.S. citizen/permanent resident relative, who files a petition on behalf of a foreign national.
Port of entry
Any location in the United States or its territories where foreigners and U.S. Citizens can enter the United States such as airports and border crossings.
The process of inspecting airport passengers before departing from foreign countries to the United States. The United States immigration does not require such inspection.
The average wage for the occupation in the geographic area in which the employee will be employed, or the wage set by the union contract for the position.
The date which determines an individual's place in line in becoming a permanent resident of the United States.
The time it takes for a petition or application to be processed by a government agency.
Nonimmigrant visa classification for foreign nationals employed in cultural exchange programs.
Nonimmigrant visa classification for individuals participating in the Irish Peace Process Cultural and Training Program ("Walsh Visas").
Nonimmigrant visa classification for dependents of Q-2 visa holders.
Nonimmigrant visa classification for religious workers who have been members of a religious denomination and who are coming to the United States to be employed by that "religious denomination having a bona fide, nonprofit religious organization in the United States.
Nonimmigrant visa classification for dependents of R-1 religious workers.
A receipt number consists of three letters (EAC, WAC, LIN or SRC) followed by ten numbers. It is provided in the upper left-hand corner of a Receipt Notice (Form I-797, Notice of Action), which acknowledges the filing of a petition with the USCIS. For example: WAC-423-65-68990.
A rule which is established under the provisions of INA 104 (a). The rule is further duly published in the Federal Register.
A term is used in tax law and not immigration law. Tax laws describe US citizens, foreign nationals who hold "green cards" (whether they spend time in the United States or not), and foreign nationals other than "green card" holders who generally spend more than one-third of the year in the United States in any immigration status (or no status) as "resident" taxpayers.
S-1 to S-6
Nonimmigrant visa classification for informants with information on criminal or terrorist organizations.
The abbreviation for Special Agricultural Worker.
Second Preference, Family Based
Immigrant classification to petition for spouses and children (the FB-2A classification) and unmarried sons and daughters (the FB-2B classification) of legal permanent residents.
An abbreviation for Student and Exchange Visitor Information System. It is an internet-based system that maintains current, "live" information on nonimmigrant students, exchange visitors and their dependents.
Single Entry Visa
A visa which allows the holder only one admission into the United States.
With respect to the EB-3 category, skilled workers are defined as those who are offered and qualify for jobs that require at least two years of post-secondary education, training or experience.
Specialty Occupation (with respect to the H-1B visa category)
An occupation requiring specialized knowledge at a level normally obtained through the minimum of at least a Bachelor's (or foreign equivalent) degree in a specific field as a minimum requirement for entry into that occupation.
A person who is not a national of any state.
A foreigner who comes secretly to the United States by hiding in an airplane or ship without being officially authorized to enter.
T-1 through T-4
Nonimmigrant visa classification for victims of a severe form of trafficking in persons and their immediate family members.
Targeted Employment Area
A targeted employment area is a rural area or a geographical area that has experienced unemployment at a rate of at least 150% of the national average rate. Individual states are authorized to designate geographical areas within the state that qualify as targeted employment areas.
Nonimmigrant visa classification for dependents of TN workers (also referenced as "Trade Dependent").
The "ten-year bar" on reentry in the United States applies to foreign nationals unlawfully present in the United States for a period of one year or more who depart voluntarily.
The three-year bar on reentry into the United States applies to foreign nationals who have been unlawfully present in the United States for a continuous period of more than 180 days, but less than one year, and who voluntarily depart the United States.
Nonimmigrant visa classification for professionals in certain specified occupations from Canada and Mexico pursuant to the North American Free Trade Agreement ("NAFTA"). NAFTA created similar visa categories for U.S. citizen professionals going to Mexico and Canada to work.
A foreign state which is qualified as a Treaty of Friendship, Commerce or Navigation or its equivalent exists with the United States of America.
U-1, U-2, U-3, U-4
Nonimmigrant visa classification for victims of certain crimes and their immediate family members.
Remaining in the U.S. for any period of time beyond the expiration date on the I-94 Departure Record issued upon arrival (or any extension thereof). Students or exchange visitors admitted not for a specific date, but for "D/S" (Duration of Status), are not considered to accumulate unlawful presence unless USCIS or an immigration judge has issued a ruling that they have violated their status.
With respect to the EB-3 category, an unskilled worker is one in a position that require less than two years of post-secondary education, training or experience to perform the duties of the position
An abbreviation for United States Medical Licensing Examination.
Visa classification for a spouse of a green card holder who is the principal beneficiary of a family-based petition which was filed prior to December 21, 2000, and has been pending for at least three years.
Visa classification for a child of a green card holder who is the principal beneficiary of a family-based visa petition that was filed prior to December 21, 2000, and has been pending for at least three years.
The derivative child of a V-1 or V-2.
Violence Against Women Act
Also designated as VAWA, certain battered immigrants (such as the spouses and children of United States citizens or legal permanent residents) are allowed to file for permanent residency on their own in order to seek refuge from an abuser who would otherwise be their immigrant sponsor.
A document issued by a U.S. Consulate/Embassy authorizing a person to apply for admission/entry into the United States in a particular visa classification (e.g., student (F), visitor (B), temporary worker (H)).
This is where the Department of State keeps track of whether a foreign national with an approved petition is eligible to move forward in his endeavor to obtain green card. If a foreign national has been assigned a priority date on or before the date listed in the visa bulletin, then he or she is currently eligible for the issuance of an immigrant visa or for adjustment of status to permanent residence.
Visa Waiver Program
It allows citizens of certain selected countries, traveling temporarily to the United States under the nonimmigrant admission classes of visitors for pleasure and visitors for business to enter the United States without obtaining nonimmigrant visas. Admission is for no more than 90 days.
The departure of a foreigner from the United States without an order of removal. The departure may or may not have been preceded by a hearing before an immigration judge.