Accompanying: A type of visa in which family members travel with the principal applicant, (in immigrant visa cases, within six month of issuance of an immigrant visa to the principal applicant).
Acquired Citizenship -- Citizenship conferred at birth on children born abroad to a U.S. citizen parent(s).
Adjust Status: Procedure allowing certain aliens already in the United States to apply for immigrant status. Aliens admitted to the United States in a nonimmigrant, refugee, or parolee category may have their status changed to that of lawful permanent resident if they are eligible to receive an immigrant visa and one is immediately available. 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 to Immigrant Status (also, adjustment of status or AOS) -- Procedure allowing certain aliens already in the United States to apply for immigrant status. Aliens admitted to the United States in a nonimmigrant or other category may have their status changed to that of lawful permanent resident if they are eligible to receive an immigrant visa and one is immediately available. 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.
Adopted Child: An unmarried child under age 21, who was adopted while under the age of sixteen, and who has been in legal custody and lived with the adopting parent(s) for at least two years. These rules do not apply to orphans adopted by American Citizens. The adoption decree must give the child all the rights of a natural born child.
Advance Parole: Permission to return to the United States after travel abroad granted by DHS prior to leaving the U.S. The following categories of people may need advance parole: people on a K-1 visa, asylum applicants, parolees, people with Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and some people trying to adjust status, while in the U.S. If these people do not apply for advance parole before they leave the United States, they may be unable to return. Go to the DHS, Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services (BCIS) Internet site and learn more.
Advisory Opinion: An opinion regarding a point of law from the Office of Visa Services in the Department of State, Washington, D.C. This opinion would be in answer to a question from an embassy or consulate about interpretation of immigration law or in response to a request of review of the legal correctness of a visa refusal of an applicant or his/her representative.
Advisory Opinion (“J” Visa) Waiver of Foreign Residence Requirement, INA 212(e): A J-1 visa /DS 2019 or IAP 66 form will have a statement in the bottom left hand corner of the form, as follows: “Bearer is or is not subject to section 212(e). Two year rule (does or does not) apply (name of country)” This is a preliminary endorsement of the Consular Officer or Immigration Officer regarding Section 212(e) of the INA. When a J-1 visa holder (or his/her attorney) inquires whether the Foreign Residence Requirement under INA 212(e) applies to a particular J-1 visa holder, then a request for an Advisory Opinion request is mailed to the Waiver Review Division at the Department of State. Learn more - See the “Eligibility and Application Procedures” and “FAQ” sections in the Waiver - Foreign Residence Requirement webpages.
Affidavit of Support: A document promising that the person who completes it will support an applicant financially in the United States. Family and certain employment immigration cases require the I-864 Affidavit of Support, which is legally binding.All other cases use the I-134 Affidavit of Support. Go to the Department of State's I-864 information to learn more. All other cases use the I-134 Affidavit of Support.
Affiliated: Associated or controlled by the same owner or authority.
Agent: In immigrant visa processing the applicant selects a person who receives all correspondence regarding the case and pays the immigrant visa application processing fee. The agent can be the applicant, the petitioner or another person selected by the applicant.
Alien: A foreign national who is not a United States citizen.
Alternate Chargeability -- When an immigrant visa applicant is subject to a quota waiting list, but is the child of parents who were born in a country or countries with more favorable quotas, the applicant may be alternately charged to the most favorable quota if certain conditions are met:
- Neither parent was a citizen of the country in which the applicant was born, at the time of the applicant's birth; and,
- The parents were only in the country of the applicant's birth temporarily when the applicant was born.
Apply for a Visa: Formally request a visa.
Appointment Package: The letter and documents that tell an applicant of the date of the immigrant visa interview. It includes forms that the applicant must complete before the interview and instructions for how to get everything ready for the interview.
Approval Notice: A Department of Homeland Security, Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services (BCIS) immigration form, (Notice of Action, Form I-797) that says that BCIS has approved a petition.
Arrival-Departure Card: Also known as Form I-94, Arrival-Departure Record. The Department of Homeland Security, 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. Go to the DHS, U.S. Customs and Border Protection Internet site to learn more.
Asylee -- An alien in the United States or at a port of entry unable or unwilling to return to his or her country of nationality, or to seek the protection of that country because of persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution. Persecution or the fear thereof may be based on the alien's race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion. For persons with no nationality, the country of nationality is considered to be the country in which the alien last habitually resided. Asylees are eligible to adjust to lawful permanent resident status after one year of continuous presence in the United States. These immigrants are limited to 10,000 adjustments per fiscal year.
Attorney Certified Copy -- A procedure in which the lengthy delays of processing for a file transfer from the INS to the National Visa Center are avoided by directly filing an original immigrant petition approval notice (form I-797), together with a complete, attorney certified copy of the entire petition, with the overseas consular post where the applicant wishes to apply for an immigrant visa. This is a discretionary procedure and it works only if the consular post is willing to accept it.
Beneficiaries - Aliens on whose behalf a U.S. citizen, lawful permanent resident, or employer have filed a petition for such aliens to receive immigration benefits from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Beneficiaries generally receive a lawful status as a result of their relationship to a U.S. citizen, lawful permanent resident, or U.S. employer. 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. Go to the State Department's biometrics page to learn more.
Bona fide: Genuine, sincere, in good faith.
Business Nonimmigrant -- This is a widely used term that does not have a specific meaning in the law. It includes aliens who come to the U.S. on B-1 business visitor visas (and who do not work or receive compensation of any kind), as well as temporary nonimmigrant workers, holding such nonimmigrant visas as E, H, L, O, or P.
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 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 BCIS (formerly INS). The Julian date is 747 plus 500, so this case was created on September 4, 2001, the 247 th 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 BCIS receipt number, which is written on the Notice of Action, Form I-797, from the BCIS. A consular section abroad cannot find a case if all you have is the BCIS receipt number.
Certificate of Citizenship -- A document issued by the Department of Homeland Security as proof that the person is a U.S. citizen by birth (when born abroad) or derivation (not from naturalization). The Child Citizenship Act of 2001 gives American citizenship automatically to certain foreign-born children of American citizens. These children can apply for certificates of citizenship.
Certificate of Naturalization: A document issued by the Department of Homeland Security as proof that the person has become a U.S. citizen (naturalized) after immigration to the United States.
Change Status: Changing from one nonimmigrant visa status to another nonimmigrant visa status while a person is in the U.S. is permitted for some types of visas, if approved by USCIS. Requests for change of status must be made by the visa holder to the Department of Homeland Security, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Go to the DHS, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services to learn more. USCIS determines whether the request is approved or denied.
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.
Child -- This is one of those important terms with a special meaning, other than the one commonly used. The definition of the term "child" (for immigration purposes) is an unmarried person under 21 years of age who is:
- a legitimate child; a stepchild provided that the child was under 18 years of age at the time that the marriage creating the stepchild status occurred; or,
- a legitimated child provided that the child was legitimate while in the legal custody of the legitimating parent; or,
- a child adopted while under 16 years of age who has resided since adoption in the legal custody of the adopting parents for at least 2 years; or,
- or an orphan, under 16 years of age, who has been adopted abroad by a U.S. citizen or has an immediate-relative visa petition submitted in his/her behalf and is coming to the United States for adoption by a U.S. citizen.
Cohabit: To live together without a legal marriage ceremony.
Common-law marriage: An agreement between a man and woman to enter into marriage without a civil or religious ceremony. It may not be recognized as a marriage for immigration purposes.
Conditional Immigrant -- This is the temporary immigrant status given to:
The spouse and children of a family based petitioner, where the marriage was less than two years old when such status was conferred; or,
An immigrant investor.
Conditional immigrant status is valid for two years. In the three month period immediately prior to the expiration of the two years, the conditional immigrant must file a petition to have the condition removed and his or her status made permanent.
Country of Birth: The country in which a person is born.
Chargeability: The independent country to which an immigrant entering under the preference system is accredited for purposes of numerical limitations.
Citizenship: The country in which a person is born (and has not renounced or lost citizenship) or naturalized and to which that person owes allegiance and by which he or she is entitled to be protected. Former Allegiance: The previous country of citizenship of a naturalized U.S. citizen or of a person who derived U.S. citizenship.
(Last) Residence: The country in which an alien habitually resided prior to entering the United States.
Nationality: The country of a person's citizenship or country in which the person is deemed a national.
Crewman -- A foreign national serving in any capacity on board a vessel or aircraft. Crewmen are admitted for twenty-nine days, with no extensions. Crewmen required to depart on the same vessel on which they arrived are classified as D-1s. Crewmen who depart on a vessel different than the one on which they arrived are classified as D-2s. Although these aliens are nonimmigrants, crewmen are not included in nonimmigrant admission data.
Cross Chargeability -- When an applicant for an immigrant visa is subject to a quota backlog because of his or her country of chargeability, the applicant may be charged to the country of his or her spouse, if it is more favorable.
Cuban/Haitian Entrant -- Status accorded 1) Cubans who entered the United States illegally between April 15, 1980 and October 10, 1980 and 2) Haitians who entered the country illegally before January 1, 1981. Cubans and Haitians meeting these criteria who have continuously resided in the United States since before January 1, 1982, and who were known to the INS before that date, may adjust to permanent residence under a provision of the Immigration Control and Reform Act of 1986.
Current/non-current: There are numerical limits on the number of immigrant visas that can be granted to aliens from any one foreign country. The limit is based on place of birth, not citizenship. Because of the numerical limits, this means there is a waiting time before the immigrant visa can be granted. The terms current/non-current refer to the priority date of a petition in preference immigrant visa cases in relationship to the immigrant cut-off date. If your priority date is before than the cut-off date according to the monthly Visa Bulletin, your case is current. This means your immigrant visa case can now be processed. 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).
Deferred Inspection -- A procedure in which a person arriving at an airport is allowed to come into the United States for purposes of resolving a complicated immigration issue. This usually occurs when it is not clear to the officer at the airport that the alien is eligible to be admitted or refused entry.
Department of Homeland Security (DHS): DHS is comprised of three main organizations responsible for immigration policies, procedures, implementation and enforcement of U.S. laws, and more. These DHS organizations include United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Together they provide the basic governmental framework for regulating the flow of visitors, workers and immigrants to the United States. USCIS is responsible for the approval of all immigrant and nonimmigrant petitions, the authorization of permission to work in the U.S., the issuance of extensions of stay, change or adjustment of an applicant's status while the applicant is in the U.S, and more. CBP is responsible for admission of all travelers seeking entry into the U.S., and determining the length of authorized stay, if the traveler is admitted. Once in the United States the traveler falls under the jurisdiction of DHS. Visit the DHS Internet site for more information.
Department of Labor: A cabinet level unit/ministry of United States Government that has responsibility for labor issues. It has responsibility for deciding whether certain foreign workers can work in the United States.
Department of State: The senior department within the executive branch and the one mandated with receiving visa applications abroad and issuing visas.
Dependent -- Spouse, unmarried child under 21 years of age (qualifying dependents for immigration), dependent unmarried child under 21 years of age, unmarried dependent child under 25 years of age who is in full-time attendance at a postsecondary educational institution, or unmarried child who is physically or mentally disabled (qualifying dependents for nonimmigrant purposes).
Deportable Alien -- An alien in the United States subject to any of the 5 grounds of deportation specified in the Immigration and Nationality Act. This includes any alien illegally in the United States, regardless of whether the alien entered the country illegally or entered legally but subsequently violated the terms of his or her visa.
Deportation -- The formal removal of an alien from the United States when the presence of that alien is deemed inconsistent with the public welfare. Deportation is ordered by an immigration judge without any punishment being imposed or contemplated. Data for a fiscal year cover the deportations verified during that fiscal year.
Derivative Citizenship -- Citizenship conveyed to children through the naturalization of parents or, under certain circumstances, to spouses of citizens at or during marriage or to foreign-born children adopted by U.S. citizen parents, provided certain conditions are met.
Derivative Status: Getting a status (visa) through another applicant. For example the spouse and children of an applicant for a family fourth preference immigrant visa (F4) can also get visas in the same category. They have derivative status. Not all visa categories permit derivative status for family members.
District (as in USCIS District Office, also "local office") -- Any one of thirty-three geographic areas into which the United States and its territories are divided for the Citizenship and Immigration Services Bureau field operations or one of three overseas offices located in Rome, Bangkok, or Mexico City. Operations are supervised by a district director located at a district office within the district's geographic boundaries.
Diversity Country: A country that has low rates of immigration to the United States. Natives of a diversity country can enter in the diversity visa program. A low rate of immigration is fewer than 50,000 immigrants to the United States in the past five years.
Diversity Visa Program: The Department of State has an annual lottery for immigration to the United States. Up to 55,000 immigrants can enter the United States each year from countries with low rates of immigration to the United States. See the Department of State's information on the Diversity Visa Program.
Documentarily Qualified: Refers to an immigrant visa applicant who has: 1) returned Form DS 2001 (from the Instruction Package) to visa-issuing post (or in some cases, to the National Visa Center), OR 2) informed post in another way that he/she has all the documents for his/her immigrant visa application, and the post has completed its clearance procedures.
DOL: See Department of Labor. Hiring foreign workers for employment in the U.S. normally requires approval from several government agencies. First, employers must seek labor certification through the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). Once the application is certified (approved), the employer must petition the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for approval of the petition before applying for a visa.
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.
Duration of Status: In certain visa categories such as diplomats, students and exchange visitors, the alien may be admitted into the U.S. for as long as the person is still doing the activity for which the visa was issued, rather than being admitted until a specific departure dates. This is called admission for "duration of status". For students, the time during which a student is in a full course of study plus any authorized practical training, and following that, authorized time to depart the country, is duration of status. The length of time depends upon the course of study. For an undergraduate degree this is commonly four years (eight semesters). Normally the immigration officer gives a student permission to stay in the U.S. for "duration of status." Duration of Status (or D/S) is recorded on Form I-94, Arrival-Departure Record. The Department of Homeland Security U.S immigration inspector at 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 visa classification and the authorized period of stay in the U.S. This is either recorded as a date or the entry or D/S, meaning duration of status. The I-94 is a very important card to make sure you keep, because it shows the length of time you are permitted and authorized by the Department of Homeland Security to stay in the U.S.
Employer Sanctions -- The employer sanctions provision of the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 prohibits employers from hiring, recruiting, or referring for a fee aliens known to be unauthorized to work in the United States. Violators of the law are subject to a series of civil fines or criminal penalties when there is a pattern or practice of violations.
Entry into the U.S.: See Admission.
Exchange Visitor: A foreign citizen coming to the United States to participate in a particular program in education, training, research, or other authorized exchange visitor program. See the Educational and Cultural Affairs Internet site and the Department of State's Exchange Visitor page for more information.
Exchange Visitor - 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.
Exempt from the Numerical Cap -- Those aliens accorded lawful permanent residence who are exempt from the provisions of the flexible numerical cap of 675,000 set by the Immigration Act of 1990. Exempt categories include immediate relatives of U.S. citizens, refugees, asylees, Amerasians, adjustments under the legalization provisions of the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986, and certain parolees from the former Soviet Union and Indochina.
Extended Voluntary Departure (EVD) -- A special temporary provision granted administratively to designated national groups physically present in the United States because the U.S. State Department judged conditions in the countries of origin to be "unstable" or "uncertain" or to have shown a pattern of "denial of rights." Aliens in EVD status are temporarily allowed to remain in the United States until conditions in their home country change. Certain aliens holding EVD status from Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Poland, and Uganda, who have resided in the United States since July 1, 1984, were eligible to adjust to temporary and then to permanent resident status under the legalization program. The Immigration Act of 1990 established Temporary Protective Status as the mechanism for "blanket" suspensions of deportation. In certain instances an administrative decision has been made to place aliens in deferred enforced departure (DED) rather than Temporary Protective Status.
Facility: A site that is built or established to perform a specific function or serve a particular need. For example, the Department of State built the Kentucky Consular Center to manage the diversity visa program.
Family First Preference: A category of family immigration (F1) for unmarried sons and daughters of American citizens, and their children.
Family Second Preference: A category of family immigration (F2) for spouses, children and unmarried sons and daughters of lawful permanent residents.
Family Third Preference: A category of family immigration (F3) for married sons and daughters of American citizens and their spouses and children. Before 1992 this was known as fourth preference (P-4).
Family Fourth Preference: A category of family immigration (F4) 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).
Federal Poverty Guidelines: See Poverty Guidelines. The Department of Health and Human Services publishes a list every year giving the lowest income acceptable for a family of a particular size so that the family does not live in poverty. Consular officers use these figures in immigrant visa cases to determine whether a sponsor’s income is sufficient to support a new immigrant, in accordance with U.S. immigration laws. Visit USCIS's Poverty Guidelines page for more information. Fiancé(e): A person who plans or is contracted to marry another person. The foreign fiance(e) of an American citizen may enter the United States on a K-1 visa to marry the American citizen.
Fiancé(e)s of U.S. Citizen -- A nonimmigrant alien coming to the United States to conclude a valid marriage with a U.S. citizen within ninety days after entry.
First Preference: A category of family immigration (F1) for unmarried sons and daughters of American citizens and their children.
Fiscal Year -- Currently, the twelve-month period beginning October 1 and ending September 30. Historically, until 1831 and from 1843-49, the twelve-month period ending September 30 of the respective year; from 1832-42 and 1850-67, ending December 31 of the respective year; from 1868-1976, ending June 30 of the respective year. The transition quarter (TQ) for 1976 covers the three-month period, July-September 1976.
Following to Join: A type of derivative visa status when the family member gets a visa after the principal applicant.
Fourth Preference: A category of family immigration (F4) 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 a petition. Before 1992 this was known as fifth preference (P-5).
Foreign Affairs Manual (FAM): Foreign Affairs Manual Chapter 41 relates to nonimmigrant visas. Chapter 42 covers immigrant visas.
Foreign Government Official -- As a nonimmigrant class of admission, an alien coming temporarily to the United States who has been accredited by a foreign government to function as an ambassador, public minister, career diplomatic or consular officer, other accredited official, or an attendant, servant or personal employee of an accredited official, and all above aliens' spouses and unmarried minor (or dependent) children.
Foreign Information Media Representative -- "I" nonimmigrant visa - a nonimmigrant class of admission, an alien coming temporarily to the United States as a bona fide representative of foreign press, radio, film, or other foreign information media (which has its main office abroad) and the alien's spouse and unmarried minor (or dependent) children.
Foreign Medical School Graduate -- An immigrant who has graduated from a medical school or has qualified to practice medicine in a foreign state, who was licensed and practicing medicine on January 9, 1978, and who entered the United States as a nonimmigrant on a temporary worker or exchange visitor visa before January 10, 1978.
Foreign State of Chargeability -- The independent country to which an immigrant entering under the preference system is accredited. No more than 7 percent of the family-sponsored and employment-based visas may be issued to natives of any one independent country in a fiscal year. No one dependency of any independent country may receive more than 2 percent of the family-sponsored and employment-based visas issued. Since these limits are based on visa issuance rather than entries into the United States, and immigrant visas are valid for 6 months, there is not total correspondence between these two occurrences. Chargeability is usually determined by country of birth. Exceptions are made to prevent the separation of family members when the limitation for the country of birth has been met.
Full and Final Adoption: A legal adoption in which the child receives all the rights of a natural born, legitimate child.
H-1B Petition - An application form used by employers seeking permission for an alien to work temporarily in the United States. An H-1B petition must be approved by the Department of Homeland Security before an alien specialty worker is authorized to begin or continue working in the United States. This requirement is true regardless of whether the alien is residing overseas or within the United States at the time of application. After a petition is approved, an H-1B worker is said to be a beneficiary.
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.
Household income: The income used to determine whether a sponsor meets the minimum income requirements under Section 213A of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) for some immigrant visa cases.
I Visas -- The "I" visa category is for foreign information media representatives. The organization sponsoring the I visa holder must be foreign owned and have its principal office overseas.
Immediate Relatives -- Certain immigrants who because of their close relationship to U.S. citizens are exempt from the numerical limitations imposed on immigration to the United States. Immediate relatives are: spouses of citizens, children (under 21 years of age and unmarried) of citizens, and parents of citizens 21 years of age or older.
Immigrant visa: A visa for a person who plans to live indefinitely and permanently in the United States.
Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) of 1952: American immigration law. The issuance of all visas is governed by the Immigration and Nationality Act. In 1952 all of the various immigration provisions in the law were brought together in a single legislative enactment. The 1952 has been amended by numerous subsequent legislative enactments but remains the basic codification of US Immigration law.
Immigration Act of 1990 -- Public Law 101-649 (Act of November 29, 1990), which increased total immigration to the United States under an overall flexible cap, revised all grounds for exclusion and deportation, authorized temporary protected status to aliens of designated countries, revised and established new nonimmigrant admission categories; revised and extended the Visa Waiver Pilot Program; and revised naturalization authority and requirements.
Immigration Marriage Fraud Amendments of 1986-- Public 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. To remove their conditional status the immigrants must apply at an Immigration and Naturalization Service office during the 90-day period before their second-year anniversary of receiving conditional status. If the aliens cannot show that the marriage through which the status was obtained was and is a valid one, their conditional immigrant status is terminated and they become deportable.
Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS): A branch of the Department of Justice that formerly existed and had responsibility for immigration and naturalization. INS was abolished by law and replaced by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Bureau, part of Department of Homeland Security (DHS), on March 1, 2003. To learn more, go to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Internet site.
INA: See Immigration and Nationality Act.
Ineligible/Ineligibility: Immigration law says that certain conditions and actions prevent a person from entering the United States. These conditions and activities are called ineligibilities, and the applicant is ineligible for (cannot get) a visa. Examples are selling drugs, active tuberculosis, being a terrorist, and using fraud to get a visa. Read the State Department's information on the Classes of Aliens Ineligible to Receive Visas to learn more.
International Representative -- As a nonimmigrant class of admission, an alien coming temporarily to the United States as a principal or other accredited representative of a foreign government (whether officially recognized or not recognized by the United States) to an international organization, an international organization officer or employee, and all above aliens, spouses and unmarried minor (or dependent) children.
In status: It’s important to understand the concept of immigration status and the consequences of violating that status. Being aware of the requirements and possible consequences will make it more likely that you can avoid problems with maintaining your status. 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. Those who follow the requirements maintain their status and ensure their ability to remain in the United States. Those who do not follow the requirements violate their status and are considered “out of status.” For more information see “Out of Status” below. In Status means you are in compliance with the requirements of your visa type under immigration law. For example, you are a foreign student who entered the United States on a student visa. If you are a full time student and pursuing your course of study, and are not engaged in unauthorized employment, you are "in status." If you work full time in your uncle's convenience store and do not study, you are "out of status." See the DHS, USCIS Website Extension of Stay and Change of Status.
Instruction Package: The letter to immigrant visa applicants which tells them of the documents which they need to prepare before an immigrant visa interview can be scheduled. In the past we called it Packet 3.
INTELSAT: International Telecommunications Satellite Organization
Intracompany Transferee -- An alien, employed 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 a capacity that is primarily managerial, executive, or involves specialized knowledge. For nonimmigrants, this is the L-1 category. For immigrants, this is the employment based first preference classification.
IV: 1) Immigrant Visa or 2) International Visitor
Joint Sponsor: A person who accepts legal responsibility for supporting an immigrant with an I-864 Affidavit of Support along with the sponsor. The joint sponsor must be at least 18 years of age, an American citizen or lawful permanent resident and have a domicile in the United States. The joint sponsor and his/her household must have the 125 percent income requirement by itself for the immigrant that he/she sponsors.
Jurisdiction: Authority to apply the law in a given territory or region. For example, the CIS district office in the area where a person lives has jurisdiction or authority to decide on a fiance(e) petition.
Kentucky Consular Center (KCC): A U.S. Department of State facility located in Williamsburg, Kentucky. It gives domestic (U.S.) support to the worldwide operations of the Bureau of Consular Affairs Visa Office. It manages the Diversity Visa (DV) Program. In the future the KCC will increasingly support nonimmigrant visa programs at embassies and consulates abroad.
LC or Labor Certification -- The initial stage of the process by which certain foreign workers get permission to work in the United States. The employer is responsible for getting the labor certification from the Department of Labor. In general the process works to make sure that the work of foreign workers in the U.S. will not adversely affect job opportunities, wages and working conditions of U.S. workers.
Legalization Dependents -- A maximum of 55,000 visas were issued to spouses and children of aliens legalized under the provisions of the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 in each of fiscal years 1992-94.
Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR): A person who has immigrated legally but is not an American citizen. This person has been admitted to the U.S. as an immigrant and has a Permanent Resident Card, Form I-551 (formerly called Alien Registration Card, also known as green card). It is a wallet-sized card showing that the person is a lawful permanent resident (immigrant) in the United States. Learn more about Lawful Permanent Residents, including how to replace or renew a Permanent Resident Card, on the USCIS Website. Learn about requirements for entry into the U.S. on the CBP Website. This person may also be called a legal permanent resident, a green card holder, a permanent resident alien, a legal permanent resident alien (LPRA) and resident alien permit holder.
Lawful Permanent Resident Alien (LPRA): Lawful permanent resident.
Lay Worker: A person who works in a religious organization but is not a member of the formal clergy
Legalized Aliens -- Certain illegal aliens who were eligible to apply for temporary resident status under the legalization provision of the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986. To be eligible, aliens must have continuously resided in the United States in an unlawful status since January 1, 1982, not be excludable, and have entered the United States either 1) illegally before January 1, 1982 or 2) as temporary visitors before January 1, 1982, with their authorized stay expiring before that date or with the Government's knowledge of their unlawful status before that date. Legalization consists of two stages - temporary and then permanent residency. In order to adjust to permanent status aliens must have had continuous residence in the United States, be admissible as an immigrant, and demonstrate at least a minimal understanding and knowledge of the English.
Legitimation: The legal process which a natural father can use to acknowledge legally his children who were born out of wedlock (outside of marriage). A legitimated child can be a "child" under immigration law under these conditions:
- the legitimation took place according to the law of the child's residence or the father's residence;
- the father proved (established) that he is the child's natural father;
- the child was under the age of 18; and
- the child was in the legal custody of the father who legitimated the child when the legal process of legitimation took place.
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.
Lottery: Diversity visa program. A computer randomly draws winners for the right to apply for immigration to the United States.
LPR: Lawful permanent resident
LPRA: Same as lawful permanent resident (LPR)
Readable Passport: Has biographic information entered on the data page according to international specifications. The size of the passport and photograph, and arrangement of data fields, especially the two lines of printed OCR-B machine readable data, meet the standards of the International Civil Aviation Organization, Doc 9303, Part 1 Machine Readable Passports. OCR-B means the type is Optical Character Reader size B.
Machine Readable Visa: 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.
Maintain status: To follow the requirements of the visa status and comply with any limitations on duration of stay.
Mala Fide: False, in bad faith.
Material Misrepresentation: Giving fraudulent documents or telling a consular officer false information in an interview. The information must be important and make a difference in whether the consular officer issues a visa applicant a visa.
Means-tested Public Benefits: Assistance from a government unit. Benefits include food stamps, Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), and State Child Health Insurance Program (CHIP).
Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) -- The general concept of an MSA is one of a large population nucleus together with adjacent communities which have a high degree of social and economic integration with that nucleus. Tabulations in the Statistical Yearbook include Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs), Primary Metropolitan Statistical Areas (PMSAs), and New England County Metropolitan Areas (NECMAs). MSAs and PSAs are defined by the Office of Management and Budget. PMSAs are components of larger metropolitan complexes called Consolidated Metropolitan Statistical Areas (CMSAs), which are not displayed in the Yearbook.
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.
MRV: See the Machine Readable Visa glossary definition.
National -- A person owing permanent allegiance to a state.
National Interest Waiver: This is for physicians and doctors who work in an area without adequate health care workers or who work in Veterans Affairs' facilities. These physicians and doctors can file immigrant visa petitions for themselves without first applying for a labor certification.
National Visa Center (NVC): A Department of State facility located in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. It supports the worldwide operations of the Bureau of Consular Affairs Visa Office. The NVC processes immigrant visa petitions from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for people who will apply for their immigrant visas at embassies and consulates abroad. The NVC reviews documents, such as the DS-230 and I-864, for technical correctness and completeness. It also collects fees associated with immigrant visa processing.
Nationality -- The country of a person's citizenship. For nonimmigrant data, citizenship refers to the alien's reported country of citizenship.
Native: A person born in a particular country is a native of that country. For example, if you were born in Mexico you are a native of Mexico.
Naturalization -- The conferring, by any means, of citizenship upon a person after birth.
Naturalization Petition -- The form (N-400) used by a lawful permanent resident to apply for U.S. citizenship. The petition is filed with a naturalization court through the Immigration and Naturalization Service.
New Arrival -- A lawful permanent resident alien who enters the United States at a port of entry. The alien is generally required to present an immigrant visa issued outside the United States by a consular officer of the Department of State. Three classes of immigrants, however, need not have an immigrant visa to enter the United States - children born abroad to lawful permanent resident aliens, children born subsequent to the issuance of an immigrant visa to accompanying parents, and American Indians born in Canada.
Non-diversity Country: A country that has high rates of immigration of the United States. A high rate of immigration is more than 50,000 immigrants to the United States in the past five years. Natives of non-diversity countries cannot participate in the Diversity Visa Program. Non-diversity countries are sometimes called non-qualifying or excluded countries.
Nonimmigrant -- An alien who seeks temporary entry to the United States for a specific purpose. The alien must have a permanent residence abroad (for most classes of admission) and qualify for the nonimmigrant classification sought. The nonimmigrant classifications include: foreign government officials, visitors for business and for pleasure, aliens in transit through the United States, treaty traders and investors, students, international representatives, temporary workers and trainees, representatives of foreign information media, exchange visitors, fiance(e)s of U.S. citizens, intracompany transferees, NATO officials, religious workers, and some others. Most nonimmigrants can be accompanied or joined by spouses and unmarried minor (or dependent) children.
Nonpreference Category -- Nonpreference visas were available to qualified applicants not entitled to one under the other preferences until the category was eliminated by the Immigration Act of 1990. Nonpreference visas for persons not entitled to the other preferences had not been available since September 1978 because of high demand in the preference categories. An additional 5,000 nonpreference visas were available in each of fiscal years 1987 and 1988 under a provision of the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986. This program was extended into 1989, 1990, and 1991 with 15,000 visas issued each year. Aliens born in countries from which immigration was adversely affected by the Immigration and Nationality Act Amendments of 1965 (Public Law 89-236) were eligible for the special nonpreference visas.
Notice of Action: A Department of Homeland Security, Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services (BCIS) immigration form, (Notice of Action, Form I-797) that says that BCIS has received a petition you submitted, taken action, approved a petition or denied a petition.
NVC: See National Visa Center.
Nursing Relief Act of 1989 -- Public Law 101-238 (Act of 12/18/89), provides for the adjustment to permanent resident status of certain nonimmigrants who as of September 1, 1989, had H-1 nonimmigrant status as registered nurses; who had been employed in that capacity for at least 3 years; and whose continued nursing employment meets certain labor certification requirements. It also provides for a 5-year pilot program for admission of nonimmigrant nurses under the H-1A category.
Occupation -- For an alien entering the United States or adjusting without a labor certification, occupation refers to the employment held in the country of last or legal residence or in the United States. For an alien with a labor certification, occupation is the employment for which certification has been issued.
Orphan -- For immigration purposes, a child whose parents have died or disappeared, or who has been abandoned or otherwise separated from both parents. An orphan may also be a child whose sole surviving parent is incapable of providing that child with proper care and who has, in writing, irrevocably released the child for emigration and adoption. In order to qualify as an immediate relative, the orphan must be under the age of sixteen at the time a petition is filed on his or her behalf. To enter the United States, an orphan must have been adopted abroad by a U.S. citizen or be coming to the United States for adoption by a citizen.
Orphan Petition: Form I-600
Out of status: Not following the terms of the visas with which the foreign citizen entered the United States. See in status glossary definition.
Overstay: When visitors enter the United States on a visa, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) U.S immigration inspector gives them a white card called an Arrival-Departure Record, Form or I-94. On this card the DHS, the U.S. immigration inspector records the length of time that visitors are permitted to stay in the United States. If the visitor stays longer than what the DHS permitted him/her to stay, he is considered an “overstay.” The visitor may not be able to get another visa, depending on how long he/she "overstays" the visa.
Packet 4: Appointment Package for Immigrant Visa Applicants
Packet 4A: Follow-up Letter and Instruction Package
Panama Canal Act Immigrants -- Three categories of special immigrants established by Public Law 96-70 (Act of 9/27/79): 1) certain former employees of the Panama Canal Company or Canal Zone Government, their spouses and children; 2) certain former employees of the U.S. government in the Panama Canal Zone, their spouses and children; and 3) certain former employees 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. They are not, however, subject to the worldwide limitation.
Panel Physician: Embassies and consulates which issue immigrant visas have selected certain doctors to do the medical examinations for immigrant visa applicants. These doctors are called panel physicians.
Parolee -- A parolee is an alien, appearing to be inadmissible to the inspecting officer, allowed to enter the United States under urgent humanitarian reasons or when that alien's entry is determined to be for significant public benefit. Parole does not constitute a formal admission to the United States and confers temporary admission status only, requiring parolees to leave when the conditions supporting their parole cease to exist. Although these aliens are processed as nonimmigrants upon arrival, parolees are not included in nonimmigrant admission data.
Types of parolees include:
Deferred inspection — Parole may be granted to an alien who appears not to be clearly admissible to the inspecting officer. An appointment will be made for the alien's appearance at another Service office where more information is available and the inspection can be completed.
Advance parole — authorized at an INS District office in advance of alien's arrival.
Port of entry parole — authorized at the port upon alien's arrival.
Humanitarian parole — authorized at INS headquarters, e.g., granted to an alien who has a serious medical condition which would make detention or immediate return inappropriate.
Public interest parole — authorized at INS headquarters, e.g., granted to an alien who is a witness in legal proceedings or is subject to prosecution in the United States.
Overseas parole — authorized at an INS District or suboffice while the alien is still overseas.
Per-Country Limit -- The maximum number of family-sponsored and employment-based preference visas that can be issued to any country in a fiscal year. The limits are calculated each fiscal year depending on the total number of family-sponsored and employment-based visas available. No more than 7 percent of the visas may be issued to natives of an independent country in a fiscal year; dependencies of independent countries cannot exceed 2 percent. The per-country limit does not indicate, however, that a country is entitled to the maximum number of visas each year, just that it cannot receive more than that number. Because of the combined workings of the preference system and per-country limits, most countries do not reach this level of visa issuance.
Permanent Resident Alien -- A person who has immigrated legally, admitted to the U.S. by Department of Homeland Security and has a Permanent Resident Card, Form I-551 (formerly called Alien Registration Card, also known as green card). Form-551 is a wallet-sized card documenting that person is a lawful permanent resident (immigrant) in the U.S. Learn more about Lawful Permanent Residents, including how to replace or renew a Permanent Resident Card, on the USCIS Website. Learn about requirements for entry into the U.S. on the CBP Website. The Permanent Resident Card,, issued by Department of Homeland Security is not a visa, although some people incorrectly may think so. LPRs may also be called a legal permanent resident, green card holder, a permanent resident alien, a legal permanent resident alien (LPRA) and resident alien permit holder. An LPR is not an American citizen.
Physical Presence: The place where a person is actually, physically located. For example, an applicant applied for a visa by mail in London, but he was living in Paris. He was physically present in Paris.
PL: Public law
Port of Entry -- Any location in the United States or its territories which is designated as a point of entry for aliens and U.S. citizens. All district and files control offices are also considered ports since they become locations of entry for aliens adjusting to immigrant status.
Polygamy: Having more than one husband or wife at the same time. Polygamy is illegal under American law.
Port of Entry: Place where a person enters the country. When a person adjusts status (gets a green card) in the United States, the port of entry can be a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) office in the United States.
Post: American Embassy, consulate or other diplomatic mission abroad. Not all American embassies, consulates and missions are visa-issuing posts.
Poverty Guidelines: The Department of Health and Human Services publishes a list every year giving the lowest income acceptable for a family of a particular size so that the family does not live in poverty. Consular officers use these figures in immigrant visa cases to determine whether a sponsor’s income is sufficient to support a new immigrant, in accordance with U.S. immigration laws. Go to the Federal Poverty Guidelines to learn more.
Preinspection -- Complete immigration inspection of airport passengers before departure from a foreign country. No further immigration inspection is required upon arrival in the United States other than submission of Form I-94 for nonimmigrant aliens.
Preference System -- The nine categories since fiscal year 1992 among which the family-sponsored and employment-based immigrant preference visas are distributed. 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) priority workers (persons of extraordinary ability, outstanding professors and researchers, and certain multinational executives and managers); 2) professionals with advanced degrees or aliens with exceptional ability; 3) skilled workers, professionals (without advanced degrees), and needed unskilled workers; 4) special immigrants; and 5) employment creation immigrants (investors).
Principal Applicant: The person named in the petition. For example, an American citizen may file a petition for his married daughter to immigrate to the United States. His daughter will be the principal applicant, and her family members will get visas from her position. They will get derivative status. Or a company may file a petition for a worker. The worker is the principal applicant. Family members get derivative status.
Priority Date: The priority date decides a person's turn to apply for an immigrant visa. In family immigration the priority date is the date when the petition was filed at a Department of Homeland Security (DHS), U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services office or submitted to an Embassy or Consulate abroad. In employment immigration the priority date may be the date the labor certification application was received by the Department of Labor (DOL).
Proselytizing: Attempting to convert (change) a person from one religious faith to another
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. For more information about Public Charge see the USCIS Website.
Receipt Notice: A Department of Homeland Security (DHS) form Notice of Action, I-797, which says that the DHS has received a petition.
Re-entry Permit: A travel document that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issues to lawful permanent residents (LPRs) who want to stay outside of the U.S. for more than one year and less than two years. LPRs who cannot get a passport from their country of nationality can also apply for a re-entry permit. You can put visas for foreign countries in a re-entry permit.
Refugee -- person who has a well-founded fear of persecution if he/she should return to his/her home country. He/she applies to come to the United States in another country and enters the United States as a refugee. See the DHS, USCIS website Refugee information to learn more.
Refugee Approvals -- The number of refugees approved for admission to the United States during a fiscal year. Refugee approvals are made by Immigration and Naturalization Service officers in overseas offices.
Refugee Arrivals -- The number of refugees the Immigration and Naturalization Service initially admits to the United States through ports of entry during a fiscal year.
Refugee Authorized Admissions -- The maximum number of refugees allowed to enter the United States in a given fiscal year. As set forth in the Refugee Act of 1980 (Public Law 96-212) the annual figure is determined by the President after consultations with Congress.
Refugee-Parolee -- A qualified applicant for conditional entry, between February 1970 and April 1980, whose application for admission to the United States could not be approved because of inadequate numbers of seventh preference visas. As a result, the applicant was paroled into the United States under the parole authority granted the Attorney General.
Registry Date -- Aliens who have continuously resided in the United States in an unlawful status since January 1, 1972 are eligible to adjust to lawful permanent resident status under the registry provision. Before the date was amended by the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986, aliens had to have been in the country continuously since June 30, 1948 to qualify.
Required Departure -- The directed departure of an alien from the United States without an order of deportation. The departure may be voluntary or involuntary on the part of the alien, and may or may not have been preceded by a hearing before an immigration judge. Data for a fiscal year cover the required departures verified in that fiscal year.
Retrogression: Sometimes a case that is current one month will not be current the next month. This occurs when the annual numerical limit has been reached. This usually happens near the end of a fiscal year (October 1 to September 30 of the next year). When the new fiscal year begins, the Visa Office gets a new supply of visa numbers and usually brings back the cut-off dates to where they were before retrogression.
Returning Residents: Lawful permanent residents who want to return to the United States after staying abroad more than one year or beyond the expiration of their re-entry permits.
Revalidation of a Visa: Nonimmigrant visa applicants who currently have a visa, and are seeking renewal or revalidation of their visa for future travel to the U.S. must apply abroad, generally in their country of residence. The exception is renewal or revalidations of A, G, and NATO diplomatic and official visas (except A-3, G-5 and NATO-7), which continue to be processed in Washington and at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations in New York.
Revocation of a Visa: Cancellation of a visa. The visa is no longer good (valid) for travel to the United States.
Schedule "A" Occupations: The Department of Labor (DOL) has given the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) authority to approve labor certifications for these occupations. These occupations are physical therapists, professional nurses and people of exceptional ability in the sciences or arts.
Second Preference: A category of family immigration (F2) for spouses, children and unmarried sons and daughters of lawful permanent residents.
Sect: A religious group or community.
Section 213A: A section of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) which establishes that sponsors have a legal duty to support immigrants they want to bring (sponsor) to the United States. They must complete Form I-864 Affidavit of Support. If a sponsor (petitioner) does not have income at 125 percent of the Federal poverty guidelines, he/she must get a joint sponsor.
Sibling: Brother or sister
Son/daughter: In immigration law a child becomes a son or daughter when he/she turns 21 or marries. A son or daughter must have once met the definition of a child in immigration law.
Special Immigrants -- Certain categories of immigrants who were exempt from numerical limitation before fiscal year 1992 and subject to limitation under the employment-based fourth preference beginning in 1992: persons who lost citizenship by marriage; persons who lost citizenship by serving in foreign armed forces; ministers of religion, their spouses and children; certain employees and former employees of the U.S. Government abroad, their spouses and children; Panama Canal Act immigrants; certain foreign medical school graduates, their spouses and children; certain retired employees of international organizations, their spouses and children; juvenile court dependents; certain aliens serving in the U.S. Armed Forces, their spouses and children; and religious workers, their spouses and children.
Special Naturalization Provisions -- Provisions covering special classes of persons who may be naturalized even though they do not meet all the general requirements for naturalization. Such special provisions allow: 1) wives or husbands of U.S. citizens to be naturalized in three years instead of the prescribed five years; 2) a surviving spouse of a U.S. citizen who served in the armed forces to file in any naturalization court instead of where he/she resides; 3) children of U.S. citizen parents to be naturalized without meeting the literacy or civics requirements or taking the oath, if too young to understand the meaning. Other classes of persons who may qualify for special consideration are former U.S. citizens, servicemen, seamen, and employees of organizations promoting U.S. interests abroad.
Sponsor: 1) A person who fills out and submits an immigration visa petition. Another name for sponsor is petitioner, OR 2) a person who completes an affidavit of support (I-864) for an immigrant visa applicant.
Sponsored Immigrant: An immigrant who has had an affidavit of support filed for him/her.
Spouse: Legally married husband or wife. A co-habiting partner does not qualify as a spouse for immigration purposes. A common-law husband or wife may or may not qualify as a spouse for immigration purposes, depending on the laws of the country where the relationship occurs.
State: 1) One of the 50 States of the United States, for example, the State of California; 2) an independent country, i.e., France.
Stateless -- Having no nationality.
State Workforce Agency: The agency or bureau in each State that deals with employment and labor issues. For the address of workforce agency in each State go to the U.S. Department of Labor, Foreign Labor Certification site.
Status -- Permission to enter and/or remain in the United States and extensions of stay in this country are granted by the Citizenship and Immigration Services Bureau (CIS). Upon entering the United States, the CIS Office at the port of entry will place a small white card, Form I-94, in the passport or laisser-passer of the person admitted. On this card the INS officer writes in either a date or "D/S" (duration of status). The date on the Form I-94 -- not the expiration date of the visa -- is controlling as to how long a person may remain. That is, if an applicant has "duration of status" he or she may remain in the U.S. as long as they continue to maintain lawful status as a student. If a specific date is written on the Form-94, the alien must either apply for an extension of stay with CIS, or depart from the United States prior to its expiry.
Stepchild: A spouse’s child from a previous marriage or other relationship. In order for a stepchild to be able to immigrate as a “child,” the marriage creating the stepchild/stepparent relationship must have happened before the stepchild was 18 years of age.
Stowaway -- An alien coming to the United States surreptitiously on an airplane or vessel without legal status of admission. Such an alien is subject to denial of formal admission and return to the point of embarkation by the transportation carrier.
Student -- As a nonimmigrant class of admission, an alien coming temporarily to the United States to pursue a full course of study in an approved program in either an academic (college, university, seminary, conservatory, academic high school, elementary school, other institution, or language training program) or a vocational or other recognized nonacademic institution.
Subject to the Numerical Cap -- Categories of legal immigrants subject to annual limits under the provisions of the flexible numerical cap of 675,000 set by the Immigration Act of 1990. The largest categories are: family-sponsored preferences; employment-based preferences; and diversity immigrants. See Appendix 2 for a discussion of the limits.
Suspension of Deportation -- A discretionary benefit adjusting an alien's status from that of deportable alien to one lawfully admitted for permanent residence. Application for suspension of deportation is made during the course of a deportation hearing before an immigration judge.
Surviving Parent: A child’s living parent when the child’s other parent is dead, and the living parent has not remarried.
SWA: See State Workforce Agency.
Temporary Protected Status (TPS) -- Establishes a legislative base to the administrative practice of allowing a group of persons temporary refuge in the United States. Under a provision of the Immigration Act of 1990, the Attorney General may designate nationals of a foreign state to be eligible for TPS with a finding that conditions in that country pose a danger to personal safety due to ongoing armed conflict or an environmental disaster. Grants of TPS are initially made for periods of 6 to 18 months and may be extended depending on the situation. The legislation designated El Salvador as the first country to qualify for this program. Deportation proceedings are suspended against aliens while they are in Temporary Protected Status.
Temporary Worker -- An alien coming to the United States to work for a temporary period of time. The Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 and the Immigration Act of 1990, as well as other legislation, revised existing classes and created new classes of nonimmigrant admission. Nonimmigrant temporary worker classes of admission are as follows:
1.H-1A-registered nurses (valid from 10/1/1990 through 9/30/1995);2.H-1B-workers with "specialty occupations" admitted on the basis of professional education, skills, and/or equivalent experience;3.H-1C-registered nurses to work in areas with a shortage of health professionals under the Nursing Relief for Disadvantaged Areas Act of 1999;4.H-2A-temporary agricultural workers coming to the United States to perform agricultural services or labor of a temporary or seasonal nature when authorized workers are unavailable in the United States;5.H-2B-temporary non-agricultural workers coming to the United States to perform temporary services or labor if unemployed persons capable of performing the service or labor cannot be found in the United States;6.H-3-aliens coming temporarily to the United States as trainees, other than to receive graduate medical education or training;7.O-1, O-2, O-3-temporary workers with extraordinary ability or achievement in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics; those entering solely for the purpose of accompanying and assisting such workers; and their spouses and children;8.P-1, P-2, P-3, P-4-athletes and entertainers at an internationally recognized level of performance; artists and entertainers under a reciprocal exchange program; artists and entertainers under a program that is "culturally unique"; and their spouses and children;9.Q-1, Q-2, Q-3-participants in international cultural exchange programs; participants in the Irish Peace Process Cultural and Training Program; and spouses and children of Irish Peace Process participants;10.R-1, R-2-temporary workers to perform work in religious occupations and their spouses and children.See other sections of this Glossary for definitions of Exchange Visitor, Intracompany Transferee, and U.S.-Canada or North American Free-Trade Agreement classes of nonimmigrant admission.
Temporary visitors in the Exchange Visitor, Intracompany Transferee, and U.S.-Canada or North American Free-Trade Agreement classes of nonimmigrant admission also are granted authorization to work temporarily in the United States. See other sections of this glossary for definitions of these classes.
Termination of a Case: If the applicant fails to reply to the inquiry correspondence sent by their embassy or consulate, termination of their visa application will begin. The embassy or consulate will first send a Follow-up Letter and Instruction Package to the applicant. If the applicant does not answer within one year, a termination letter is sent. At this point the applicant has one more year to activate the immigrant visa case. If there is no answer in one year, the case is terminated. You can stop termination of a case by notifying the embassy or consulate before the prescribed time period has lapsed, that the applicant does not want the case to be closed (terminated).
Third Country National: Someone who is not an American and not a citizen of the country where he/she currently is. Suppose you are a Kenyan visiting Mexico. If you apply for a visa to visit the United States while you are in Mexico, we will consider you a third country national. Or perhaps you are a Russian working in Yemen. We consider you a third country national when you apply for a visa.
Third Preference: A category of family immigration (F3) for married sons and daughters of American citizens and their spouses and children. Before 1992 this was known as fourth preference (P-4).
Transit Alien -- An alien in immediate and continuous transit through the United States, with or without a visa, including, 1) aliens who qualify as persons entitled to pass in transit to and from the United Nations Headquarters District and foreign countries and 2) foreign government officials and their spouses and unmarried minor (or dependent) children in transit. Transition Quarter - The three-month period - July 1 through September 30, 1976 - between fiscal year 1976 and fiscal year 1977. At that time, the fiscal year definition shifted from July 1-June 30 to October 1- September 30.
Transit Without Visa (TWOV) -- A transit alien traveling without a nonimmigrant visa under section 238 of the immigration law. An alien admitted under agreements with a transportation line, which guarantees his immediate and continuous passage to a foreign destination. (See Transit Alien.)
Treaty Trader or Investor -- As a nonimmigrant class of admission, an alien coming temporarily 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 carry on substantial trade or to direct the operations of an enterprise in which he has invested a substantial amount of capital, and the alien's spouse and unmarried minor (or dependent) children.
Troubled Business: A business that has been in existence for at least two years and has lost 20 percent of its net worth over the past 12 to 24 months.
Turning twenty-one: In the United States a person turns twenty-one when he/she completes his twenty-first year. For example, if you were born on January 15, 1980 you turned 21 on January 15, 2001. You did not become 21 when you began the twenty-first year of your life.
Upgrade a petition: If you naturalize (become an American citizen) you may ask the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to change the petitions you filed for family members when you were a lawful permanent resident (LPR) from one category to another. This is called upgrading. For example, a petition for a spouse will be changed/upgraded from F2 to IR1. That is, the petition changes from a preference category with numerical limits to an immediate relative category without numerical limits. The applicant no longer has to wait for her/his priority date to be reached. Upgrading a petition sometimes has consequences. A preference petition for a spouse permits derivative status for children. An immediate relative petition does not. You, the petitioner, would need to file separate petitions for each of your children.
Visa: A citizen of a foreign country, wishing to enter the U.S., generally must first obtain a visa, either a nonimmigrant visa for temporary stay, or an immigrant visa for permanent residence. Visa applicants will need to apply overseas, at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate, generally in their country of permanent residence. The type of visa you must have is defined by immigration law, and relates to the purpose of your travel. A visa allows a foreign citizen to travel to the United States port-of entry, and request permission of the U.S. immigration inspector to enter the U.S. Issuance of a visa does not guarantee entry to the United States. The CBP Officer at the port-of-entry determines whether you can be admitted and decides how long you can stay for any particular visit.
Visa Expiration Date: The visa expiration date is shown on the visa. Depending on the alien’s nationality, visas can be issued for any number of entries, from as little as one entry to as many as multiple (unlimited) entries, for the same purpose of travel. This generally means the visa is valid, or can be used from the date it is issued until the date it expires, for travel for the same purpose, when the visa is issued for multiple entry. This time period from the visa issuance date to visa expiration date as shown on the visa, is called visa validity. If you travel frequently as a tourist for example, with a multiple entry visa, you do not have to apply for a new visa each time you want to travel to the U.S. As an example of travel for the same purpose, if you have a visitor visa, it cannot be used to enter at a later time to study in the U.S. The visa validity is the length of time you are permitted to travel to a port-of-entry in the United States to request permission of the U.S. immigration inspector to permit you to enter the U.S. The visa does not guarantee entry to the U.S. The Expiration Date for the visa should not be confused with the authorized length of your stay in the U.S., given to you by the U.S. immigration inspector at port-of-entry, on the Arrival-Departure Record, Form I-94, or I-94W for the Visa Waiver Program. The visa expiration date has nothing to do with the authorized length of your stay in the U.S. for any given visit.
There are circumstances which can serve to void or cancel the period of time your visa is valid. If you overstay the end date of your authorized stay, as provided by the Department of Homeland Security's U.S. immigration officer at port of entry, or Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services (BCIS), then this action on your part generally will automatically void or cancel your visa. However, if you have filed an application in a timely manner for extension of stay or a change of status, and that application is pending and not frivolous, and if you did not engage in unauthorized employment, then this normally does not automatically cancel your visa. If you have applied for adjustment of status to become a permanent resident alien (“green card” holder), you should contact BCIS regarding obtaining Advance Parole before leaving the U.S.
Visa Numbers: Congress establishes the amount of immigration each year. Immigration in certain categories, such as immediate relatives, is unlimited, but preference categories are limited. To distribute the visas fairly among all categories of immigration the Visa Office in the Department of State distributes the visas by providing visa numbers according to preference and priority date.
Visa Waiver Pilot Program -- Though a misnomer (The program was made permanent in 2000), this term is still used. 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 program was instituted by the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (entries began 7/1/88) and extended through fiscal year 1997 by subsequent legislation. Currently, there are 25 countries participating in this program. Under the Visa Waiver Pilot Program, certain visitors from designated countries may visit Guam for up to 15 days without first having to obtain a nonimmigrant visitor visa. Currently, there are 16 countries participating in this program.
Voluntary Service Program: an organized project that a religious or nonprofit charitable organization does to provide help to the poor or needy or to further a religious or charitable cause. Participants may be eligible for B visas.
VWP: See Visa Waiver Program.
Withdrawal -- An alien's voluntary removal of an application for admission to the United States in lieu of an exclusion hearing before an immigration judge. Although these aliens are technically considered nonimmigrants when applying for entry, withdrawals are not included in the nonimmigrant admission data.
Worldwide Ceiling -- The numerical limit imposed on immigration visa issuance worldwide beginning in fiscal year 1979 and ending in fiscal year 1991. The ceiling in 1991 was 270,000 visa numbers. Prior to enactment of Public Law 96-212 on March 17, 1980, the worldwide ceiling was 290,000.