Immigration Terminology2018-11-27T06:12:43+00:00

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A” Number
The term used on the Alien Registration number. An “A” number is issued to all aliens applying for permanent residence.

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Academic Training
This type of training is for students on a J-1 visa. The training is similar to students on an F-1 visa doing the Optional Professional Training (OPT). However, academic training is only for J-1 visa holders.

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Acquired Citizenship
Citizenship bestowed at birth on children who are born overseas to U.S. citizen parent(s).

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Accompanying
A type of visa in which family members travel with the principal applicant, (in immigrant visa cases, within six months of issuance of an immigrant visa to the principal applicant).

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Act
Act means the ‚€‚œImmigration and Nationality Act‚€‚ (or INA), as amended.

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ACWIA
American Competitiveness and Workforce Improvement Act of 1998.

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Adjudication
The term describing the USCIS process of reviewing and processing applications and petitions.

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Admission
Admission in immigration terms is related to the lawful entry into the United States after inspection and authorization by an immigration officer. Note that admission does excludes a person who is paroled or permitted to land temporarily.

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Adjustment of Immigrant Status
A process that permits a number of foreigners who are already in the United States to apply for immigrant status. Foreigners who enter the United States as nonimmigrants, refugees, or parolees might have their status altered to that of legal permanent resident if they are qualified to obtain an immigrant visa and one is available right away. If the status is changed successfully, the alien is considered an immigrant as of the date of the adjustment regardless if the alien may have been in the United States for a long period of time.

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Admission Number
The particular number is found on your I-94 card, which will change every time you enter the Unites States. Remember to give this card back once your leave the U.S. so there is a record of your U.S. entry and departure.

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Adoption
See Orphan.

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Advance parole
The term used for legal permission to leave the United States and re-enter during the adjustment of the individuals status procedures.

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Affidavit of Support
The affidavit of support is a sworn document provided by an individual who will provide financial support to an alien that seek to adjust existing status or enter the United States. In some cases, the Affidavit of Support is required and needs to be included as a part of the petition process. There are two Affidavits of Support: Form I-864 and Form I-134. The law and regulations must be consulted to learn the appropriate use and requirements for each.

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Aggravated Felon
The description of an individual who has been convicted of any of numerous crimes set forth in INA Section 101(a)(43), 8 USC Section 1101. Aggravated felon status creates numerous substantive and procedural disabilities with respect to asylum, admissibility, removal, judicial review, etc., as set forth in INA Sections 298, 212, 237 – 242, 8 USC Sections 1158, 1182.

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Agricultural Worker
An agricultural worker is a foreign worker who is coming to the United States to carry out agricultural work or services, as defined by the Secretary of Labor, for a temporary period of time as a nonimmigrant.

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AILA
Abbreviation for American Immigration Lawyers Association.

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Alien
Any person who is not a citizen or national of the United States of America; foreigner.

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Aliens Previously Removed
A term used to describe the inadmissibility for individuals previously removed from anywhere between 5 to 20 years, depending upon the circumstances of each case. INA Section 212(a)(9)(A), 8 USC Section 1182.

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Amerasian Act
Public Law 97-359 (Act of 10/22/82) that permits certain Amerasian children to immigrate to the United States. An alien must have been born in Cambodia, Korea, Laos, Thailand, or Vietnam after December 31, 1950, and before October 22, 1982, and have been fathered by a U.S. citizen for him/her to meet the requirements for benefits under this law.

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Amerasian (Vietnam)
Immigrant visas are granted to Amerasians under Public Law 100-202 (Act of 12/22/87). This law grants aliens who are born in Vietnam after January 1, 1962, and before January 1, 1976 admission to the United States provided he/she was fathered by a U.S. citizen. The alien may be accompanied by spouses, children, and parents or guardians.

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Applicant
The individual applying for visa, change of status or citizenship.

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Application for Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration
The procedures for applying for immigrant status through a U.S. consulate.

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Application Support Centers
USCIS applications for Naturalization or to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status necessitate the USCIS to carry out a FBI fingerprint background check on the applicant. Most applicants that require a background check have to be present for one at a specific Application Support Center (ASC) or Designated Law Enforcement Agency (DLEA) for fingerprinting purposes.

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Apprehension
Apprehension refers to arresting a removable foreigner by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

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Arrival-Departure Card
Also known as Form I-94, Arrival-Departure Record. The U.S. Customs and Border Protection official at the port-of-entry gives foreign visitors (all non-U.S. citizens) an Arrival-Departure Record, (a small white card) when they enter the United States. Recorded on this card is the immigrant classification and the authorized period of stay in the U.S. This is either recorded as a date or the entry of D/S, meaning duration of status. It is important to keep this card safe because it shows the length of time you are permitted and authorized by the Department of Homeland Security to stay in the U.S. It is best kept stapled with your passport, kept in a safe place. The visitors return the I-94 card when they leave the country. The I-94W, Nonimmigrant Visa Waiver Arrival-Departure Record (green card) is for travelers on the Visa Waiver Program.

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ASC
Abbreviation for INS/USCIS Application Support Center

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Asylee
A foreigner in the United States or at a port of entry who is established to be incapable or reluctant to go back to his or her country of nationality, or to ask for the protection from that country because of persecution or a well-substantiated fear of persecution. The reasons for fear of persecution have to be the foreignerƒ¢‚€‚™s race, religion, nationality, membership in a unique social group, or political views. The country of nationality is considered to be the country in which the foreigner most recently lived for those without any nationality. Asylees are entitled to adjust to the legal permanent resident category after one year of continuous presence in the United States. This category is limited to 10,000 adjustments per fiscal year.

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BCIS
BCIS stands for the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services, also called USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services).

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Beneficiaries

Foreigners who obtain lawful immigration statuses as a result of their relationship to U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents, or U.S. employers.

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BIA
Abbreviation for Board of Immigrant Appeals.

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Biometrics
Biologically unique information used to identify individuals. This information can be used to verify identity or check against other entries in the database. The best known biometric is the fingerprint, but others include facial recognition and iris scans. 

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Bona Fide

Genuine or authentic.

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Border Crosser
Border crosser is a foreign resident who reenters the United States after being not present for less than six months in Canada or Mexico. It also refers to a nonresident alien who reenters the United States via the Canadian border for stays that are less than six months or across the Mexican border for stays that are less than 72 hours.

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Business Nonimmigrant
A foreigner who enters the United States on a temporary basis to take part in commercial deals that do not involve lucrative work in the United States such as someone who is involved in international commerce on behalf of a foreign company.

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Cancellation of Removal
It’‚€‚™s a legal procedure undertaken in front of an immigration judge in order to adjust the status of a foreigner from deportable to a legal permanent resident.

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Cancelled without Prejudice
A stamp an embassy or consulate puts on a visa when there is a mistake in the visa or the visa is a duplicate visa (two of the same kind). It does not affect the validity of other visas in the passport. It does not mean that the passport holder will not get another visa.

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Case Number

The National Visa Center (NVC) gives each immigrant petition a case number. This number has three letters followed by ten digits (numbers). The three letters are an abbreviation for the overseas embassy or consulate that will process the immigrant visa case (for example, GUZ for Guangzhou, CDJ for Ciudad Juarez).  The digits tell us exactly when NVC created the case. For example a case with the number MNL2001747003 would be a case assigned to the U.S. Embassy in Manila. 2001 is the year in which NVC received the case from the USCIS. The Julian date is 747 plus 500, so this case was created on September 4, 2001, the 247th day of the year. The 003 shows that it was the third case created for Manila on that day.
This case number is not the same as the USCIS receipt number, which is written on the Notice of Action, Form I-797, from the USCIS. A consular section abroad cannot find a case if all you have is the USCIS receipt number.

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Certificate of Citizenship

It is a legal document that is issued to derivative citizens and foreigners who obtained U.S. citizenship in order to prove identity and U.S. citizenship.

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Certificate of Naturalization
An official document which is issued by the Department of Homeland Security. The certificate is the proof that an individual has become a U.S. citizen (naturalized) after immigration to the United States.

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Change of Status
The application process of changing status from one immigration status to another immigration status.

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Charge / Chargeable 
There are numerical limits on the number of immigrant visas that can be granted to aliens form any one foreign country. This limit is the same for all countries. The limit is based on place of birth, not citizenship. Where the immigrant is “charged”, means that person is counted towards a given country’s numerical limit. For example, an immigrant born in Ethiopia is “charged” to Ethiopia, and therefore counted towards reaching the numerical limit for that country. The person would be “charged” to Ethiopia, even if the immigrant born in Ethiopia was born of Yemeni parents and has a passport from Yemen.
Although immigrants are normally “charged” to their country of birth, and immigrant is sometimes able to claim another for the sake of immigration. You would do this if it helps the immigrant in reaching the “cut-off date” date faster. For example, suppose you were born in India, but your spouse was born in Sudan. The “cut-off date” for a person born in India is earlier in family fourth preference immigration category than the “cut-off date” for a person born in Sudan. We can “charge” you to Sudan, rather than India, and you can use the more favorable cut-off date for Sudan. Therefore, you would be able to immigrate years earlier with a chargeability to Sudan than a chargeability to India.

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Child

The term generally refers to unmarried persons who are under age 21. There are many types of children:

  • Born within a marriage
  • Stepchildren, but only if the child was under 18 years of age when the marriage that created the stepchild relationship took place
  • A legitimated child if the child was legitimated while in the legal custody of the legitimating parent
  • An adopted child under age 16 who has lived in the lawful custody of the adopting parents for a minimum of 2 years since adoption
  • An orphan under age 16 years who has been adopted overseas by a U.S. citizen or who is coming to the United States for adoption by a U.S. citizen

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CIS
The abbreviation for “Citizenship and Immigration Services”. See BCIS or USCIS.

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Citizenship
Normally citizenship describes the country that a person is born in. However, a person can change citizenship in a process called naturalization.

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Civil Surgeons

Doctors trained and certified by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service. These are the doctors you should go to if USCIS asks you for immigration examinations.

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Cohabit 

To live together without a legal marriage ceremony.

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Conditional Resident

Conditional residents are those foreigners who have conditional permanent resident status such as the spouse of an American citizen. They are usually required to formally request the elimination of the set conditions before the second anniversary of the approval of his or her conditional status.

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Consul
A diplomat appointed by the United States government to protect its commercial interests and help its citizens in a foreign country . The consul is also responsible for issuing visas to non-U.S. citizens who wish to travel to the United States.

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Consular Processing
This is the application process an alien goes through to apply for permanent residency at a U.S. Consulate in his or her home country. The applicant must have an approved I-140 in addition to an immigrant number.

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Consulate
Official United States government office located in foreign country. Consulates deal with foreign trade and visa issues. Consulates are normally located in major cities.

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Continuity of Residence
When an alien is seeking U.S. residency, an absence of more than one year will automatically lead to a break of the continuity of the alienƒ¢‚€‚™s residence. The consequences of breaking the continuity is that the alien must begin the process all over again. While an applicant can get permission to leave the U.S. during the residency period, it is generally not recommended to do so.

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Conviction
The process of a formal judgment of guilt entered by a court of competent jurisdiction.

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Country of

  • Birth: The country a person is born
  • Citizenship: Itƒ¢‚€‚™s either the country where a person is born who have not given up or lost his/ her citizenship or the country of a person who is naturalized.
  • Former Allegiance: Itƒ¢‚€‚™s the former country of a person who became a citizen of the United States through naturalization or derivative citizenship.
  • (Last) Residence: The last country where a foreigner lived before coming into the United States.
  • Nationality: The country of a person’s citizenship

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CPT
CPT stands for Curricular Practical Training. CPT is a description for off-campus work permission granted to foreigners going to school or university in the U.S. where the work is a part of an internship. 

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Crewman

An alien who serves in a capacity obligatory for typical operations and service on board of a vessel or airplane.

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CSC
Abbreviation for California Service Center

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Cuban/Haitian Entrant: Cubans who came into the United States unlawfully or were paroled into the United States between April 15, 1980, and October 10, 1980, and Haitians who came into the United States unlawfully and were paroled into the country before January 1, 1981. Cubans and Haitians who have lived in the United States since before January 1, 1982, and who were recognized by U.S. immigration authorities before that date may change to permanent residents.

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Cut-off Date
The date that determines whether a preference immigrant visa applicant can be scheduled for an immigrant visa interview in any given month. The cut-off date is the priority date of the first applicant who could not get a visa interview for a given month. Applicants with a priority date before or earlier than the cut-off date can be scheduled. However, if your priority date is later (comes after) the cut-off date, you will need to wait longer, until your priority date is reached (becomes current).

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Deferred Inspection
See Parolee.

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Department of State
The Department of State is an Executive Branch Department with jurisdiction over non-domestic issues. It is the government agency responsible for managing the United States foreign affairs.

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Departure under Safeguards
The physical observation of an unlawful foreigner departing the United Sates by a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officer.

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Dependent
An official term used on the spouse and children of the principal applicant.

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Deportable Alien
A deportable alien is anybody who entered the United States illegally or legally, but breached the terms of his/ her classification or status later on.

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Deportation
Deportation is the legal act of removing an alien from the United States after he/she has been found removable for infringing the immigration laws. Deportation is ordered by an immigration judge without any kind of punishment.

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Derivative Citizenship
U.S. citizenship passed on to children through the naturalization of parents or to foreign-born children adopted by U.S. citizen parents.

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DHS
Abbreviation for Department of Homeland Security

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District
Geographic regions into which the United States and its territories are divided for Immigration and Naturalization Services‚€‚™ purposes.

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Diversity
A category of immigrants from underrepresented countries and countries unfavorably affected by the Immigration and Nationality Act Amendments of 1965. The main goal of diversity visas is to increase immigrants from such countries.

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Diversity Country
The description of a country that has low rates of immigration to the United States. The citizens of a diversity country can enter in the diversity visa program.

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Diversity Immigrant Visa Program
The United States Government issues 50,000 Green Cards every year through the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program, commonly known as the Green Card Lottery. Applicants are selected randomly by a computer-generated drawing.

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Docket Control
The USCIS means for following the case status of possible removable foreigners.

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Documentarily Qualified
The description of an alien that has provided all documents by the consular officer as sufficient to meet the requirements of INA 222(b), and that necessary clearance procedures of the consular office have been completed. Note that the term ‚€‚œDocumentarily Qualified‚€‚ shall only be used to describe an alien’s qualification to formally apply for an immigrant visa, not whether the applicant receives the visa or not.

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DOL
DOL is an acronym for the Department of Labor of the United States.

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Domicile

Place where a person has his or her principal residence. The person must intend to keep that residence for the foreseeable future. The sponsor of an immigrant must have domicile in the United States before the visa can be issued. This generally means that the sponsor must be living in the United States. In certain circumstances, however one can be considered to have a domicile while living temporarily living overseas.

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DOS
Abbreviation for Department of State

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Dual Intent
Dual intent is the process of nonimmigrants in E, H, and L status that may simultaneously have intent to stay in the U.S. temporarily or permanently.

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DV
See Diversity Immigrant Visa Program

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EAD
An Employment Authorization Document (EAD) is a work authorization card that is issued by the USCIS. The EAD is the size and shape of driver’s license.

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Embassy

Official United States government office located in foreign country. Embassies are usually  located in the capital of the country. Embassies deal with political, economic, and visa issues. The local ambassador is in charge of the Embassy.

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Employer Sanctions

U.S. employers who hire illegal immigrants are subject to civil fines or criminal penalties if a pattern of violations is found.

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Employer Verification
The procedure established by the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA) requiring U.S. employers to verify the identity and eligibility of individuals to legally work. Form I-9 is used for all individuals (U.S. citizens and aliens) hired or referred for a fee on or after November 7, 1986. INA Section 274A, 8 USC Section 1324a.

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Employment Authorization Document
The official name for a work permit and authorization by the USCIS to legally take upon work in the United States.

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Employment Authorization Letter
An employment letter is needed for employees who wish to be sponsored for nonimmigrant work status or permanent resident status. The letter is completed by the sponsoring employer.

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Entry Visa
The visa that the US State Department adds to a page in an individualƒ¢‚€‚™s passport. The granting of an entry visa means that the US State Department is eligible to enter the U.S. for a particular purpose. Note that an expired visa does not affect an individuals legal stay in the U.S. As long as the I-94 card is valid, the visa can be expired. However, if the individual leaves the U.S., a valid visa is necessary to enter again. One cannot enter the U.S. with an expired visa.

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EOIR
Abbreviation for Executive Office of Immigration Review.

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Exchange Visitor
An exchange visitor is a foreigner who enters the United States as a partaker in an official program by the Secretary of State for the purpose temporarily. Some of the activities could be teaching, instructing or lecturing, studying, observing, conducting research, consulting, demonstrating special skills, or receiving training.

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Exclusion
Exclusion is the official term for denying an alien entry into the United States either through an expedited removal procedure or through removal proceedings in the presence of an immigration judge.

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Extension of Stay
The term used to describe the application process of extending the stay period listed on Form I-94.

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F-1 Status
F-1 is the visa type used by international students to enter the United States. The I-94 Form in the passport will be marked with the letters  ‚€’‚œF-1’‚€‚ and ‘D/S’‚€‚.  D/S stands for ‘‚œDuration of Status’‚.

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Family First Preference
A category of family immigration (F-1) for unmarried sons and daughters of American citizens, and their children.

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Family Second Preference
A category of family immigration (F-2) for spouses, children and unmarried sons and daughters of lawful permanent residents.

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Family Third Preference
A category of family immigration (F-3) for married sons and daughters of American citizens and their spouses and children. Before 1992 this was known as Fourth Preference (P-4).

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Family Fourth Preference
A category of family immigration (F-4) for brothers and sisters of American citizens and their spouses and children. The American citizen must be 21 years of age or older before he/she can file the petition. Before 1992 this was known as Fifth Preference (P-5).

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Fiancĩ of U.S. Citizen
A nonimmigrant foreigner who enters the United States to finalize a valid marriage within ninety days of her/his entry with a U.S. citizen
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Files Control Office
An USCIS field office is either a district or a suboffice of that district where foreigners’‚€‚™ case files are maintained and controlled.

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Fiscal Year
The fiscal year starts October 1 and ends in September 30.

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Foreign Affairs Manual (FAM)
The abbreviation for Foreign Affairs Manual Chapter 41, which relates to nonimmigrant visas. Chapter 42 covers immigrant visas.

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Foreign Alien/National
Any person born outside the U.S who is not a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.

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Foreign Government Official
Foreigners who are accredited by a foreign government to work as diplomats, public ministers, career diplomatic or consular officials, other accredited officers, or assistants, servants or personal employees of accredited officials, and their spouses and dependent children. These officials enter the United States for a temporary period as nonimmigrants.

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Foreign Information Media Representative
A foreigner who enters the United States temporarily as a bona fide envoy of foreign press, radio, film, or other foreign information media and the foreigner’s spouse and dependent children.

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Foreign State of Chargeability
The independent country that an immigrant under the preference scheme is credited to.

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Form DS- 2019 
This is a document that the university or school a person is attending provides to the new student which allows he or she to enter the U.S. legally through a J-1 visa.

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General Naturalization Provisions
The General provisions that every naturalization applicant must meet such as being 18 years of age, a legal permanent resident with five years of continuous residence in the United States who have been physically present in the country for half that period and who have a good character for at least that period.

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Geographic Area of Chargeability
This term refers to Africa, East Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, Near East and South Asia, and the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. The world is divided into these areas for the preliminary admittance of refugees to the United States.

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Green Card
A Green Card, officially known as a Permanent Resident Card (Form I-151 or Form I-551) is evidence of lawful permanent resident status in the United States. It allows a foreign national to live, work legally, travel abroad and return to the United States. Green Card holders may also apply for U.S. citizenship after a certain period of time.

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H-1B Worker
The classification of an individual who qualifies to perform a specialty occupation in the U.S. The current period is three years with an option to renew the H-1B visa for another 3 years after the first period is over.

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Hemispheric Ceilings

The legal numerical limitations on the number of immigrants entering the United States from all over the world.

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Homeless 
Persons from countries that do not have an American Embassy or Consulate where they can apply for immigrant visas are “homeless.” For example, the United States Government does not have an embassy in Iran. Residents of Iran are “homeless” for visa purposes. 

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Household Income

The calculation of the income used to determine whether a sponsor meets the minimum income requirements under Section 213A of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).

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Immediate Relatives
Immediate relatives are spouses of U.S. citizens, unmarried citizensƒ¢‚€‚™ children under the age 21, and parents of citizens 21 years of age or older. Immediate relatives are excused from the numerical limitations imposed on immigration to the United States

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Immigrant
See Permanent Resident Alien.

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Immigration Act of 1990
Public Law 101-649 that increased the numerical limitations on legal immigration to the United States, amended the reasons for exclusion and deportation, allowed provisional protected status to foreigners of some countries, amended and established new nonimmigrant entrance classes, amended and extended the Visa Waiver Pilot Program, and amended naturalization authority and requirements.
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Immigration Judge
A lawyer selected by the Attorney General to perform as an administrative judge within the Executive Office for Immigration Review. Immigration Judges are also in charge of removal proceedings. INA Section 240, 8 USC Section 1229a.

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Immigration and Nationality Act
The Act regulates the immigration, temporary admission, naturalization, and removal of aliens besides other U.S. immigration laws, treaties, and conventions.

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Immigration Marriage Fraud Amendments of 1986
The law that discourages immigration-related marriage fraud by stipulating that foreigners who get their immigrant status based on a marriage of less than two years are conditional immigrants and should remove their conditional status by applying at an U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services office during the 90-day period before the second-year anniversary of getting the conditional status. The conditional immigrant status may be ended and the foreigners deported if they cannot demonstrate that the marriage through which the status was obtained was and is a valid one.

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Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) of 1986
The law which was passed to manage and discourage illegal immigration to the United States by making illegal foreigners who had been continuously unlawfully present since 1982 legal, legalizing certain agricultural workers, punishing employers who intentionally employ undocumented workers, and increasing enforcement at U.S. borders.

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Immigration Status
An individual’s immigration status is noted on the I-94 card by an Immigration Inspector at the U.S. port-of-entry. During the duration of a person’s stay in the U.S., this designation is very important. A visa can for example expire if this designation is changed while you are in the United States.

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INA
See Immigration and Nationality Act.

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Inadmissible
This term refers to a foreigner who wants to enter the United States, but does not meet the entrance criteria set in the INA. The foreigner may be then removed or permitted to remove his or her application for admission in some cases.

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Industrial Trainee
See Temporary Worker.

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INS
Abbreviation of “Immigration and Naturalization Service”.  The INS changed its official name on March 1, 2003 to USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services). INS was an extension of the U.S. Justice Department with responsibility for the admission and control of aliens.

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Intending Immigrant
The terms used to describe any beneficiary of an immigrant visa petition filed under INA Section 204. An intending immigration is any individual who will accompany or follow-to-join the principal beneficiary.

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International Representative
A nonimmigrant foreigner who enters the United States temporarily as a principal or other accredited representative of a foreign government to an international organization, an international organization officer or employee, and the foreignerƒ¢‚€‚™s spouse and unmarried children.

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Intracompany Transferee
A foreigner who is engaged for at least one continuous year out of the last three by an international company and who requests to come into the United States temporarily to continue his/her work for the same employer as a manager, executive, or specialized worker, and the foreignerƒ¢‚€‚™s spouse and unmarried children.

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IRCA
See Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986.

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IV
Immigrant Visa

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J-1 Exchange Visitor Visa
J-1 visas are issued to individuals who take part in a wide range of exchange visitor programs sponsored by schools, businesses and a variety of organizations and institutions. The individual’s Form I-94 should be marked “J-1” in addition to the letters “D/S” (Duration of Status). The duration of stay is the period of time that is noted on Form IAP-66/DS-2019.

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Joint Sponsor
The description of a person who accepts legal responsibility for supporting an immigrant with an I-864 Affidavit of Support along with the sponsor. There are certain requirements for joint sponsors: he or she must be at least 18 years of age, an American citizen or lawful permanent resident and have a domicile in the United States.

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Jurisdiction
The term used to describe the level of authority to apply the law in a given territory or region.

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K-1 Fianceĩ/Fiancĩ Visa
The K-1 Visa, also known as the Fianceĩ/Fiancĩ Visa, may be used by United States citizens who wish to bring their prospective husbands or wives to the United States with the intention of getting married.

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Kentucky Consular Center (KCC)
KCC is a U.S. Department of State facility located in Williamsburg, Kentucky. The main task of the office is to provide domestic support to the worldwide operations of the Bureau of Consular Affairs Visa Office. KCC also manages the Diversity Visa (DV) Program.

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Labor Certification
Labor certification is a condition that U.S. employers should fulfill in order to hire certain skilled workers. The certification is issued by the Secretary of Labor and includes attestations by U.S. employers as to the statistics of U.S. workers available to take on the employment sought after by foreigners, and the consequence of the foreignerƒ¢‚€‚™s work on the wages and working conditions of U.S. workers who fold similar jobs.

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Labor Condition Application (LCA)
The LCA is a document which must be filed with the Department of Labor (DOL) before and H-1B petition can begin. The LCA must be approved before the actual H-1B petition is processed. The LCA states that the company hiring the H-1B employee will pay the required wage rate, which is the higher of the prevailing wage or actual wage. In addition to the wage rate, the LCA also includes statements about the employer’‚€‚™s attempt to find national employee and information about the current work situation in terms of strikes, lock outs, or work stoppage due to labor disputes.

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Last Residence
This is a term that is frequently found on immigration and visa forms. The country of your “‚€‚œLast Residence”‚ is the country that an individual lived in before entering the United States.

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Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR)
Any person who is not a citizen of the United States and who lives in the U.S. under lawfully recognized and legally recorded permanent residence as an immigrant. It’‚€‚™s also called Permanent Resident Alien, Resident Alien Permit Holder, and Green Card Holder.

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Legal Entry
The process that most visitors and foreign workers go through when entering the United States via official borders. A U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service Official inspects your documents and grants you permission to enter the United States.

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Legalization Dependents
The spouses and children of foreigners who became legal immigrants under the stipulation of the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 between 1992 and 1994.

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Legalized Aliens
It refers to some illegal aliens who were entitled to submit an application for temporary resident status under the legalization provision of the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986.

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Legitimated
A child is legitimated if a natural father of a child born out of wedlock acknowledges the child through a legal procedure. A legitimated child from any country has two legal parents and cannot qualify as an orphan unless only one of the parents is living or both of the parents have deserted the child.

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LIFE Act
Legal Immigration Family Equity (LIFE) Act and amendments. This act of Congress allows foreign spouses of American citizens, the children of those foreign spouses, and spouses and children of certain lawful permanent residents (LPR) to come to the United States to complete the processing for their permanent residence. This Act became effective on December 21, 2000.

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Local Education Agency
School or school district. Also called LEA. This term is used for deciding tuition charges for secondary school students in F-1 visa status.

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Lose Status
To stay in the United States longer than the period of time which Department of Homeland Security (DHS) gave to a person when he/she entered the United States, or to fail to meet the requirements or violate the terms of the visa classification. The person becomes “out of status.” For example, you entered the U.S. on a student visa to study at a university. You work at your uncle’s convenience store without authorization, and do not study. You have lost status. You are out of status.

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Machine Readable Passport (MRP) 
A passport which has biographic information entered on the data page according to international specifications. A machine readable passport is required to travel with a visa on the Visa Waiver Program.

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Machine Readable Visa (MRV) 
A visa that contains biometric information about the passport holder. A visa that immigration officers read with special machines when the applicants enter the United States. It gives biographic information about the passport holder and tells the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) information on the type of visa. It is also called MRV.

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Medical and Legal Parolee
See Parolee.

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Medical Waiver
A medical waiver allows an immigration applicant to be allowed into, or stay in the United States even though he/ she have health conditions that makes them inadmissible.

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Migrant
A migrant is an individual who departs his/her country to live in another country.

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Missionary Work

Work performed for a religious organization to spread the faith (religion) and advance the principles and doctrines of the religion. Such work may include religious instruction, help for the elderly and needy and proselytizing.

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MSC
Formerly the “Missouri Service Center” but now called the “National Benefits Center” or NBC.

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NACARA
Nicaraguan Adjustment and Central American Relief Act.

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National
An individual who has pledged allegiance to a certain country.

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National Interest Waiver (NIW)
An immigrant visa for which can apply to outstanding aliens who are exceptional in their field.

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National of the United States
A national of the United States is a citizen of the United States, or a person who, though not a citizen of the United States, owes permanent allegiance to the United States. For more information, see INA Section 101(a)(22), 8 USC Section 1101(a)(22).

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Nationality
The description used on an individual’‚€‚™s citizenship or country where the person is deemed a national.

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Native
A person born in a particular country is a native of that country.

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NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) Official
A nonimmigrant foreigner who enters the United States temporarily as a member of the armed forces or as a civilian employed by the armed forces on assignment with a foreign government signatory to NATO, and the foreigner’‚€‚™s spouse and unmarried children.

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Naturalization
The bestowment of citizenship upon a person when he/she is born.

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Naturalization Application
The form used by legal permanent residents to submit an application for U.S. citizenship.

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NBC
National Benefits Center. The formerly the “Missouri Service Center”.

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Nonimmigrant
A foreigner who enters the United States temporarily for a specific purpose and who must fulfill two requirements: a permanent residence overseas and actual qualification for the nonimmigrant classification. Some of the nonimmigrant classifications are students, international representatives, temporary workers and trainees, exchange visitors, intracompany transferees, NATO officials, religious workers among others. Most nonimmigrants can be accompanied or joined by spouses and unmarried minor children.

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Nondiversity Country
A country that high rates of immigration to the United States. Not that passport holders of non-diversity countries cannot participate in the Diversity Visa Program. Another word for non-diversity countries are occasionally called non-qualifying or excluded countries.

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Nonimmigrant status
The term used to describe an individualƒ¢‚€‚™s status for a set period of time. It is a limited status while in the United States. The individual is not a permanent resident of the United States while on a Nonimmigrant Status.

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Nonpreference Category
This category was removed by the Immigration Act of 1990 and used to grant Nonpreference visas to qualified applicants who were not entitled to a visa under the preferences categories.

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North American Free-Trade Agreement (NAFTA)
The agreement that governs the mutual trading relationship between the United States and Canada and establishes a similar relationship with Mexico.

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Not Subject to Numerical Limitation
This means that an alien is entitled to immigrant status as an immediate relative within the meaning of INA 201(b)(2)(i), or as a special immigrant within the meaning of INA 101(a)(27) (A) and (B), unless specifically subject to a limitation other than under INA 201(a), (b), or (c).

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Notice of Action
A form issued by the USCIS as a proof that a petition or application is received and in process. The Notice of Action is also issued by the USCIS as a receipt for paid fees. The Notice of Action number is I-797. This is not a downloadable form, it is sent to the applicant by the USCIS.

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NPRM
Abbreviation for Notice of Proposed Rule Making

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NSC
Nebraska Service Center

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Numerical Limit, Exempt from
Those foreigners granted lawful permanent resident statuses and that are usually exempt from numerical limits set by the Immigration Act of 1990. Exempt categories consist of immediate relatives of U.S. citizens, refugees, asylees, Amerasians, aliens adjusted under the legalization provisions of the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986, and certain parolees from the former Soviet Union and Indochina.

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Nursing Relief Act of 1989
The act allows H-1 nonimmigrant registered nurses to become legal permanent residents if they had been employed as nurses for at least 3 years and who meet certain labor certification requirements.

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Occupation
It refers to the employment held in the country of last legal residence or in the United States for those foreigners who enter the United States or change status without a labor certification. Occupation is the employment for which certification has been issued for an alien with a labor certification.

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OPT
OPT stands for Optional Practical Training. OPT is an opportunity for foreign students to work year of off-campus. An new OPT can received at different study levels.

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Orphan
The Immigration and Nationality Act defines an orphan for the purposes of immigration to the United States as:

  • A child, whose both parents died, disappeared, or deserted.
  • The child of an unmarried mother or surviving parent may be considered an orphan if that parent is unable to care for the child suitably and has irrevocably released the child for emigration and adoption in writing.
  • The child of an unmarried mother may be considered an orphan only if the mother does not marry and the child’‚€‚™s biological father does not legitimate the child.
  • The child of a surviving parent if the surviving parent has not married since the death of the other parent.

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Out of Status
A U.S. visa allows the bearer to apply for entry to the U.S. in a certain classification, for a specific purpose. For example, student (F), visitor (B), temporary worker (H). Every visa is issued for a particular purpose and for a specific class of visitor. Each visa classification has a set of requirements that the visa holder must follow and maintain. When you arrive in the U.S., a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Customs and Border Protection (CBP) inspector determines whether you will be admitted, length of stay and conditions of stay in, the U.S. When admitted you are given a Form I-94 (Arrival/Departure Record), which tells you when you must leave the U.S. The date granted on the I-94 card at the airport governs how long you may stay in the U.S. If you do not follow the requirements, you stay longer than that date, or you engage in activities not permitted for your particular type of visa, you violate your status and are considered be “out of status”. It is important to understand the concept of immigration status and the consequences of violating that status. Failure to maintain status can result in arrest, and violators may be required to leave the U.S. Violation of status also can affect the prospect of readmission to the U.S. for a period of time, by making you ineligible for a visa. Most people who violate the terms of their status are barred from lawfully returning to the United States for years. 

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Overstay

A visitor who has exceed the stay in the U.S. after the date indicated on the Arrival-Departure Record, Form I-94.

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Panama Canal Immigrant Act

  • Some ex-employees of the Panama Canal Company or Canal Zone Government, their spouses and accompanying children.
  • Some previous employees of the U.S. Government in the Panama Canal Zone who are Panamanian nationals, their spouses and children.
  • Some previous of the Panama Canal Company or Canal Zone Government on April 1, 1979, their spouses and children. The Act provides for admission of a maximum of 15,000 immigrants, at a rate of no more than 5,000 each year.

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Panel Physician
An overseas Doctor who is appointed by a local U.S. Embassy or Consulate to offer medical exams as required by the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) and USCIS (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services). Medical examinations that are not administrated by a Panel Physician will not be accepted by USCIS.

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Parolee
A parolee is a foreigner who appears to be inadmissible to the inspecting officer; however, he/she is permitted to enter the United States for urgent humanitarian reasons or when that foreigner’‚€‚™s admittance is deemed to be of an important public benefit. Parole is not an official right of entry to the United States and grants temporary status only, which require parolees to leave when the conditions supporting their parole stop to exist.

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Passport
A document that is issued by the government of the country of your citizenship. Passports have expiry dates, and while you travel in the U.S. your passport must remain valid throughout the entire duration of your stay.

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Per-Country Limit
The number limits of family-sponsored and employment-based preference visas that can be issued to citizens of any country in a fiscal year.

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Permanent Resident
Any person who is not a citizen of the United States and who lives in the U.S. under lawfully recognized and legally recorded permanent residence as an immigrant. It is also called Permanent Resident Alien, Resident Alien Permit Holder, and Green Card Holder.

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Petition
A generic word used to describe the forms used by the USCIS to determine eligibility for different visa categories.

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Port of Entry
Any location in the United States or its territories where foreigners and U.S. citizens alike can enter the United States such as airports and border crossings.

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Practical Training
A work program designed to let foreign students work in the United States after of during their university degree.

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Pre-Inspection
The process of inspecting airport passengers before departing from foreign countries to the United States. The United States immigration does not require inspection upon arrival, however.
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Preference System (Immigration Act of 1990)
The nine classes under which the family-sponsored and employment-based immigrant preference visas are granted as of 1992.

  • The family-sponsored preferences are:
    1. Unmarried sons and daughters of U.S. citizens
    2. Spouses, children, and unmarried sons and daughters of permanent resident aliens
    3. Married sons and daughters of U.S. citizens
    4. Brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens.
  • The employment-based preferences are:
    1. Investors
    2. Priority workers or those individuals that possess extraordinary abilities
    3. Professionals with advanced degrees or foreigners with exceptional ability
    4. Skilled workers, professionals without advanced degrees, and needed unskilled workers
    5. Special immigrants

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Prevailing Wage
This is the wage that is provided by the Employment Development Department (EDD) after the sponsoring company has submitted a Prevailing Wage Determination Request.

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Principal Alien

It is the foreigner who submits an application for immigrant status and from whom another foreigner may get lawful status under immigration law or regulations such as spouses and children. The principal is the primary person applying as opposed to dependent. Example; TN is a principal classification, and TD is the dependent classification.

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Priority Date
This term refers to the date a petition is filed during a USCIS Immigrant visa application process. If the foreigner relative has a priority date on or before the date listed in the visa bulletin, then he or she is currently eligible for a visa.

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Public Charge 
Refers to becoming dependent upon the government for the expenses of living (food, shelter, clothing, etc.). Following U.S. immigration law, an applicant is ineligible for a visa if he/she will be a public charge.

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Qualifying Date
The date which the Visa Office of the Department of State uses the qualifying date to determine when to send the Instruction Package to an immigrant visa applicant. The Instruction Package tells the applicant what documents need to be prepared for the immigrant visa application.

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Quota System
The system used to limit the number of visas available to each country for particular visa classifications.

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Rank Order Number 
The number that Kentucky Consular Center gives to the entries of DV Program (lottery) as the computer selects them. The first entries chosen have the lowest numbers. The Visa Office of the Department of State gives winning entries a chance to apply for immigration according to their rank order number for their region.

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Receipt Notice
A Department of Homeland Security (DHS) form, Notice of Action I-797, which says that the DHS has received a petition.

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Re-Entry Permit
A declaration of an individualƒ¢‚€‚™s intention to maintain U.S. permanent residence during prolonged absence from the United States. Its official name is “Form I-131, Application for Travel Document.” –  Note that the alien must be physically present in the United States to file an application for a re-entry permit.

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Refugee

A refugee is anybody who is incapable or reluctant to go back to his/her country of nationality while they are in another country because he/she will be persecuted or afraid of being persecuted. The reasons for persecution or fear of persecution have to be the foreigner’s race, religion, nationality, membership in a unique social group, or political views. The country of nationality is considered to be the country in which the foreigner most recently lived for those without nationality. Refugees are entitled to adjust to the legal permanent resident category after one year of continuous presence in the United States.

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Refugee Approvals
The number of refugees that are permitted to be admitted into the United States during a fiscal year.

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Refugee Arrivals
The number of refugees that actually entered the United States during a fiscal year.

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Refugee Authorized Admissions
The ceiling number of refugees allowable to come into the United States during a fiscal year which is decided by the President of the United States after consulting with Congress.

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Refugee-Parolee
Refugee- parolees are those individuals who eligible for provisional admittance to the United States between February 1970 and April 1980, but could not be accepted because of insufficient numbers of seventh preference visas. As a consequence, these individuals entered the United States as parolees.

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Regional Offices
There are three USCIS Regional Offices that supervise the work of USCIS Districts and Border Patrol Sectors. They are located in Burlington, VT, for the Eastern Region, Dallas, TX, for the Central Region, and Laguna Nigel, CA, for the Western Region.

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Registry Date
Aliens who have continuously resided in the United States since January 1, 1972, are of good moral character, and are not inadmissible, are eligible to adjust to legal permanent resident status under the registry provision. Before the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 amended the date, aliens had to have been in the country continuously since June 30, 1948 to qualify.

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Regulation
A rule which is established under the provisions of INA 104(a). The rule is further duly published in the Federal Register.

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Removal
The process of removing foreigners from the United States which justified because they are found to be either inadmissible or deportable.

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Request for Evidence (RFE)
A letter that the USCIS uses to request additional information on a pending case.

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Required Departure
See Voluntary Departure.

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Resettlement
The process of relocating refugees permanently to a place outside their country of origin and permit them to become legal residents of that place. Refugee resettlement is done through private charitable agencies that work with the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Refugee Resettlement to help refugees relocate.

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Resident Alien
Any person who is not a citizen of the United States and who lives in the U.S. under lawfully recognized and legally recorded permanent residence as an immigrant. It is also called Permanent Resident Alien, Resident Alien Permit Holder, and Green Card Holder.

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Returning Resident
Any legal Permanent Resident who has been outside the United States and is returning to the U.S. It is also called special immigrant. The returning resident must submit an application to be readmitted to the U.S if he/she was outside of the United States for more than 180 days. He /she is generally required to have a re-entry documentation from USCIS or an immigrant visa from the Department of State if he/she was outside of the United States for more than one year and is coming back to his or her permanent home in the United States.

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Revalidation of a Visa
Another term for renewal of a visa.

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Safe Haven
Impermanent protection granted to refugees or asylees who have run away from their countries of origin to request help, safety or respite from persecution or other hardships. The protection is usually granted until they can go back to their countries safe and sound or, if needed, until they can get permanent relief from the conditions they are running away from.

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SAW
Abbreviation for Special Agricultural Worker.

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Service Centers
There are four service offices in the United States that are responsible for filing, data entry, and arbitration of some applications for immigration services and benefits. Service Centers are not staffed to receive walk-in applications or questions, so all applications have to be mailed.

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SEVIS
SEVIS stands for “The Student Exchange Visitor Information System”‚. This particular system is used by the federal government to monitor student visas in the United States.

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Special Agricultural Workers (SAW)
Foreigners who worked in perishable agricultural commodities for a specified period of time and were allowed to enter the United States for short-term and then became permanent residents under a provision of the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986.

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Special Immigrants
Some classes of immigrants who were excepted from numerical restrictions before fiscal year 1992 and subject to control under the employment-based fourth preference beginning in 1992 such as persons who lost citizenship by marriage, persons who lost citizenship by serving in foreign armed forces and so forth.

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Special Naturalization Provisions
Such special provisions permit special classes of persons to become U.S. citizens despite the fact that they do not meet all the common requirements for naturalization:

  • Wives or husbands of U.S. citizens are allowed to file for naturalization after three years of legal permanent residence instead of the general five years period
  • Surviving spouses of a U.S. citizen who worked in the armed forces are allowed to file for naturalization in any district instead of where he/she resides
  • Children of U.S. citizen parents can become citizens without meeting certain requirements or taking the oath if they are too young to comprehend the meaning
  • Other categories of persons who may qualify for special consideration such as previous U.S. citizens, servicemen, seamen, and employees of organizations supporting U.S. interests overseas.

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Sponsor
To sponsor a foreigner means to bring to the United States or petition for that foreigner in the immigration sense. A “sponsor” is also a person who completes Form I-864, Affidavit of Support under Section 213A of the Act.

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Sponsored Immigrant
An immigrant on whose behalf a sponsor has executed an affidavit of support. The affidavit of support includes any spouse or child who will accompany or follow-to-join the beneficiary of an immigrant visa petition filed by a sponsor.

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Stateless
A person who is not a national of any country.

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Stowaway
A foreigner who comes secretly to the United States by hiding in an airplane or ship without being officially authorized to enter. Such a person will be denied admission and will be returned to the point of embarkation by the transporter.

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Student
A nonimmigrant foreigner who comes to the United States temporarily to study in an approved program in either an academic such as college, university, seminary, conservatory, academic high school, elementary school, other institution, or language training program; a vocational or other recognized nonacademic organization.

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Sub-Offices
Offices established in some Districts so as to provide many services and enforcement functions and to increase convenience to customers.

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Subject to the Numerical Limit
The classes of legal immigrants subject to numerical limitations under the provisions of the flexible numerical limit of 675,000 set by the Immigration Act of 1990. The largest classes are the family-sponsored preferences, employment-based preferences, and diversity immigrants.

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Suspension of Deportation
A remedy in deportation proceedings which must be initiated before removal proceedings began under the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 [IIRAIRA] on April 1, 1997. It involves certain individuals who have been in the U.S. for 7 or 10 years and who met other criteria as set forth in former INA Section 244(a).

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SWA
Abbreviation for State Workforce Agency.

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Temporary Protected Status (TPS)
The TPS sets up a legislative foundation for permitting a group of people provisional refuge in the United States. The Attorney General may select nationals of a foreign country to be entitled for TPS with a finding that conditions in that country present a risk to personal safety because of continuing armed wars or a natural catastrophe. TPS is allowed for periods of 6 to 18 months in the beginning and may be extended depending on the situation. Removal procedures are generally suspended against foreigners while they are in Temporary Protected Status.

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Temporary Resident 
See Nonimmigrant.

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Temporary Worker
Nonimmigrant temporary worker classes of admission, who come to the United States to work temporarily, are:

  • H-1A – Temporary registered nurses (discontinued)
  • H-1B – specialty occupations workers admitted on the basis of professional education, skills, and/or equivalent experience
  • H-1C – registered nurses who work in areas that have a shortage of health professionals under the Nursing Relief for Disadvantaged Areas Act of 1999 (discontinued)
  • H-2A – temporary agricultural workers coming to the United States to carry out agricultural services or labor of a temporary or seasonal nature when approved workers are unavailable in the United States
  • H-2B – temporary non-agricultural workers coming to the United States to carry out temporary services or labor if unemployed persons able to perform the service or labor cannot be found in the United States
  • H-3 – aliens coming temporarily to the United States as trainees, other than to receive graduate medical education or training
  • O-1, O-2, O-3 – temporary workers with extraordinary ability or achievement in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics; those entering exclusively to escort and help such workers in addition to their spouses and children
  • P-1, P-2, P-3, P-4 – athletes and entertainers at an internationally recognized level of performance; artists and entertainers under a mutual exchange program; artists and entertainers under a program that is “culturally unique” in addition to their spouses and children
  • Q-1, Q-2, Q-3 ƒ¢‚€‚“ members in international cultural exchange programs; members in the Irish Peace Process Cultural and Training Program in addition to spouses and children of Irish Peace Process members
  • R-1, R-2 – Religious temporary workers and their spouses and children.

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Transit without Visa (TWOV)
A transit alien admitted under agreements with a transportation line, which assures instant and incessant passage to a foreign destination without a nonimmigrant visa.

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Treaty Country
A foreign state which is qualified as a Treaty of Friendship, Commerce, or Navigation or its equivalent exists with the United States of America.

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Treaty Trader or Investor
A nonimmigrant foreigner coming to the United States, under the provisions of a treaty of commerce and navigation between the United States and the foreign state of such alien, to perform extensive trading or to manage the business in which he/she has invested a considerable sum of money in addition to the spouse and unmarried minor children.

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TSC
The acronym for two instances: Texas Service Center OR Terrorist Screening Center.

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Underrepresented Countries, Natives of
Natives of those countries that received less than 25 percent of the utmost visa numbers allowed under the country limitations.

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United States-Canada Free-Trade Agreement
The agreement that governs the mutual trading relationship between the United States and Canada and establishes a similar relationship with Mexico.

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USCIS
USCIS is abbreviated for United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. It is a bureau created under the Department of Homeland Security. The former official name was INS, but INS was replaced by USCIS on 3/1/2003.

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Visa
A United States visa grants the holder the right to apply for entry to the United States, but does not grant the visa holder the right to enter the United States. Entry can be refused at the port of entry. The Department of State (DOS) is in charge of visa administration at U.S. Embassies and Consulates outside of the U.S. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Bureau of Customs and Border Protection (BCBP) immigration inspectors decide admittance, duration of stay and conditions in the U.S. at a port of entry. DHS immigration inspectors will record the terms of your admission on your I-94 or I-94W and in your passport upon approval of entry.

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Visa Waiver Program
The program permits citizens of certain countries to enter the U.S. for business or pleasure up to 90 days. The following countries are currently in the visa waiver program: Andorra, Austria, Australia, Belgium, Brunei, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Monaco, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, San Marino, Singapore, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland,and the United Kingdom.

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Voluntary Departure
A foreigner departs voluntarily from the United States without an order of removal with or without a preceding hearing before an immigration judge. A foreigner who departs voluntarily admits removability but he/she is not barred from seeking admission at a port-of-entry at any time. However, failure to depart, if removable, can result in a fine and a ten-year ban to several forms of relief from deportation.

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VSC
Vermont Service Center.

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Waiver
The term used to describe the change of inadmissibility for certain aliens, either in the United States or outside the United States.

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Western Hemisphere
Used on North America, Central America, South America, and the adjacent islands according to INA 101(b)(5).

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Withdrawal

Withdrawal happens if arriving foreigners voluntarily withdraw their application for admission to the United States instead of having to appear in front of an immigration judge for a removal hearing or a fast removal. Withdrawals are not listed under a persons nonimmigrant admittance data

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Work Permit
A work permit is normally used to describe an Employment Authorization Document.

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