|IMMIGRATION TERMS AND DEFINITIONS
The following information may be helpful to understand some of the commonly used
immigration terms and definitions.
For legal advice, contact an immigration attorney licensed by the State Bar.
Another useful resource is the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
website, which has a glossary of immigration terms.
Advanced Parole - Document required to leave the U.S. while adjustment to lawful permanent
resident is pending
Affidavit of Support - Signed and notarized document which makes sponsor financially
responsible for the beneficiary
AILA - The American Immigration Lawyers Association is a national association of
immigration lawyers established to promote justice, advocate for fair and reasonable
immigration law and policy, advance the quality of immigration and nationality law and practice,
and enhance the professional development of its members. AILA Member attorneys represent
U.S. families seeking permanent residence for close family members, as well as U.S.
businesses seeking talent from the global marketplace" AILA website
Alien:(Resident Alien, Foreign National) - An individual residing in the United states who is not a
AOS - Adjustment of Status- (the process to become a Green Card Holder / Permanent
- Card- stamped by INS when you arrive, shows how long you can stay in the United States. It is
a small white card.
Beneficiary: A foreign national who is seeing to reside in the U.S. pursuant to a petition that was
filed on his or her behalf by a U.S. citizen or company.
BIA - Board of Immigrant Appeals
Change of Status - The switch from one visa type for another.
CIS - "Citizenship and Immigration Services" -- shorter version of BCIS or USCIS.
CSC - California Service Center
DHS - Department of Homeland Security
DOL - Department of Labor
DOS - Department of State
E Visa - Visa for investors and traders.
EB-1 - Employment-based immigration category for aliens of extraordinary ability.
EB-2 - Employment-based immigration category for aliens with advanced degrees or exceptional
EB-3 - Employment-based immigration category for aliens with bachelor's degrees. Most
immigrants become residents through this category.
EOIR - Executive Office of Immigration Review
F-1 - Student Visa.
Green Card - Document showing lawful permanent residence.
H-1B - Visa for temporary skilled workers.
H-1B Cap - Annual limit on number of H-1B visas issued (Currently 195,000).
H-4 - visa for family members of H-1B visa holder.
INA - Immigration and Nationality Act
Immigrant: Any legal alien in the United States, other than those in the specified class of
nonimmigrant aliens such as temporary visitors or students. Immigrant is also used
synonimouly with Lawful Permanent Resident.
Immigration Lawyer: A Lawyer who specializes in immigration and naturalization law issues
pertaining to immigrants and their residency status in the United States.
INS - Stands for "Immigration and Naturalization Service." This was the immigration processing
and enforcement bureau before the Department of Homeland Security was created. The current
immigration processing and enforcement bureau is called the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration
Services, or USCIS. The USCIS is a part of the Department of Homeland Security.
IRS - Internal Revenue Service
J-1 - Visa for doctors and researcher- usually tied to some sort of research grant or exchange
L Visa - Visa for employees transferred from foreign office to U.S. office
Labor Condition Application (LCA) - Document indicating the prevailing wage in an area
Labor Certification - involved process through which the U.S. Department of Labor gives
authorization for an alien to immigrate.
Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) - An immigrant who has been lawfully accorded the privilege
of residing permanently in the United States on the basis of family relation or job skill. Generally
lawful permanent residents are those that have "green cards", and are permitted to apply for
naturalization after five years of U.S. residence.
National Interest Waiver (NIW) - Immigrant visa for outstanding aliens who are in the top of their
Naturalization - The process by which a foreign-born individual becomes a citizen of the United
States. To naturalize, immigrants must be 18 years old, have been lawful permanent residents
of the United States for five years (three years if married to a US Citizen), demonstrate a basic
knowledge of English, American government and history, and have a good moral character.
Nonimmigrants: Those who are allowed to enter the United States for a specific purpose for a
limited period of time, such as tourists, students, business visitors, diplomats, and specialty
occupations such as high tech workers, or seasonal agricultural workers.
NSC - Nebraska Service Center
Out-of-Status: A Foreign national who has violated the conditions of their non-immigrant status.
O-1 Visa - Visa for highly acclaimed individual with extraordinary ability in the Sciences,
Education, Business, or Athletics.
O-2 Visa - Visa for those accompanying or assisting the O-1 visa holder
P-1 Visa - Visa for entertainers and athletes
P-2 Visa - Visa for those accompanying or assisting the P-1 visa holder, as well as entertainers
and athletes admitted through a reciprocal exchange program and their staff.
Petitioner (sponsor): A U.S. citizen or entity that files a petition on behalf of a foreign national so
that he or she may reside within U.S. legally as a non-immigrant or immigrant.
Practical Training - One year work authorization for F-1 students who have terminated studies.
Port of Entry: The airport, seaport, or border crossing where U.S. customs officials are stationed
to decide whether or not travellers will be permitted to the United States.
Priority Date - Date assigned to aliens for processing of green card. The INS will not process an
immigrant petition until the date is current.
RFE - Request for Evidence. This is a letter the INS uses to request additional information on a
TN Visa - Visa for temporary workers authorized under schedule 2 of NAFTA
Quota: A numerical limit on the number of visas or green cards available per year to a particular
class of non U.S. citizens and/or within a certain on-immigratn categrory.
Unauthorized Immigrant - Also known as an illegal alien or an undocumented worker, who
enters or lives in the Untied States without official authorization either by entering illegally or by
violating the terms of his or her admission.
USCIS - Stands for "U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services." The current immigration benefits
processing and enforcement entity of the United States.
Visa - legal authorization for a foreign national to request entry into the U.S. at a port of entry
Work Authorization Card - Document which authorizes employment. Obtained through
concurrently with or after an adjustment of status is filed. It may be renewed at one year intervals
while the application for permanent residency is pending.
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