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LL.M. Law Group can help with your immigration needs. Please Note: Every
term that is underlined is also defined.
at birth on children born abroad to a U.S. citizen parent(s).
ADJUSTMENT OF STATUS: The process of obtaining
Lawful Permanent Resident
(LPR) status while physically present in the United States. See also
green card holder and
of status should be distinguished from
change of status which generally applies to nonimmigrants moving
from one nonimmigrant status to another. The adjustment of status option is
unavailable to many (but not all) persons who entered the United States
without inspection, or who violated status while in
the United States, or on whose behalf an application for
labor certification or a preference petition was
not filed on or before April 30, 2001.
ADMISSION INSPECTION: The inspection of an
alien upon arrival in the
United States by an inspector at a port of entry. If the
alien is admitted to the
U.S. on a
NONIMMIGRANT VISA, then the
nonimmigrant is limited to
carrying out a specific purpose (such as tourism, business, investment) for
a specific time period. If an
alien is admitted on an
VISA, then there is no time limit for the
immigrant to stay in the
AFFIDAVIT OF SUPPORT: Document filed by a U.S.
Lawful Permanent Resident
who resides in the United States, promising to provide financial support for
an alien who is seeking to
enter the United States or adjust status.
There are two
Affidavit of Support forms, I-864 and I-134. Form I-864 now is the form
most often used. It is required to be given by petitioners in the immediate
relative and family preferences and in the employment-based categories if
the employer/petitioner is related to the beneficiary. There are extensive
obligations on the affiant, including enforceability as a contract until the
beneficiary becomes a U.S. citizen or has 40 quarters of qualifying
employment in the United States. See
IMMIGRANT VISAS. The I-134 Affidavit of Support is often now used
in connection with nonimmigrant visa applications as a form of evidence to
demonstrate that an alien seeking classification as
STUDENT, or similar non-employment-based
nonimmigrant classification will have adequate financial resources while in
the United States to overcome public charge considerations. See
file/number created for many aliens, containing the alien’s
Alien Registration Number.
ALIEN: As defined by the Immigration and Nationality Act, an alien is
"any person not a citizen
or national of the United
States." An alien previously removed may be denied admission to the United
States for a period of five to twenty years. See also
An office that
fingerprints applicants for certain immigration benefits, such as
NATURALIZATION or adjustment of status. The ASC
may also collect other biometric data, such as a signature and digital
photo, particularly in conjunction with electronically filed applications.
ASYLUM: A status sought by a person either (1) who is requesting
admission at a U.S. port of entry who has a well grounded fear of
prosecution if forced to return to his country of nationality or last
habitual residence because of race, religion, nationality, membership in a
particular social group, or political opinion; or (2) who is already
physically present in the United States.
One year after the
receipt of asylum status, the asylee may apply for lawful
permanent residence. See also
recently passed REAL ID Act altered the standards and evidentiary burdens
governing asylum applications, applications for withholding of removal, and
other discretionary grants of relief from removal. It requires asylum
applicants to demonstrate that one of the enumerated grounds was or will be
“at least one central reason” for their persecution, and allows immigration
judges to require credible asylum and withholding applicants to obtain
corroborating evidence “unless the applicant does not have the evidence and
cannot reasonably obtain the evidence.”
that may actually mean the Secretary of Homeland Security. While the
Homeland Security Act of 2002 transferred functions of legacy INS from the
Department of Justice to the Department of
Homeland Security, it did not change every
authority-delegation reference in the Immigration and Naturalization Act
(INA) and other laws.
An office established
by the Department of Labor to process and eliminate the backlog of
labor certification applications filed throughout the
United States prior to March 28, 2005. There are two BRCs, located in
Philadelphia and Dallas.
BENEFICIARY: The immigrant
or nonimmigrant who will
benefit from receiving the privilege of living and/or working on a temporary
or permanent basis in the United States.
generally receive a lawful status from the USCIS
as a result of their relationship to a U.S. citizen,
lawful permanent resident, or U.S. employer.
TRANSPORTATION SECURITY (BTS):
One of the five major
divisions, or “directorates” of the Department
of Homeland Security, BTS assumes the enforcement functions
of the former INS—including Border Patrol and Investigations.
An identity card
issued to an alien who is lawfully admitted for
permanent residence, or to an alien who is a
resident in Mexico or Canada, by a consular officer or an immigration
officer for the purpose of crossing the border from Canada or Mexico. The
new biometric BCC is a laminated, credit card-style document with many
security features and has a validity period of 10 years. Called a “laser
visa,” the card is both a BCC and a B-1/B-2
CITIZENSHIP AND IMMIGRATION SERVICES (BCIS):
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
BUREAU OF CUSTOMS
AND BORDER PROTECTION (BCBP):
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).
IMMIGRATION AND CUSTOMS ENFORCEMENT (BICE):
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
CANCELLATION OF REMOVAL: A potential remedy for a
Lawful Permanent Resident
(LPR) who has (1) been a LPR for at least five years and has resided
continuously in the United States for at least seven years after having been
admitted in any status and has not been convicted of an aggravated felony;
or (2) anyone physically present in the United States for a continuous
period of not less than 10 years immediately preceding the date of such
application or the date of a
Notice to Appear (NTA), who has been a person of
good moral character
during such period, has not been convicted of certain offenses, and who
establishes that removal would result in exceptional and extremely unusual
hardship to the applicant's U.S.
citizen or LPR spouse,
parent or child. Applicant may be absent from the United States for up to
180 days during the 10 year period.
CERTIFICATE OF CITIZENSHIP: A formal document certifying to an
immigrant that he has
obtained the status of United States
citizen on the basis of
CHILD: An unmarried person who is: (1) a legitimate child; (2) a
step-child; (3) a child legitimized under the law of the child's residence
or domicile, or under the law of the father's residence or domicile; (4) an
illegitimate child; (5) a child adopted before reaching the age of sixteen;
and (6) an orphan.
CITIZEN: A status conferred upon a person by birth in the United States,
abroad to U.S. citizen parents, or upon an
immigrant who has
completed the process of
CONDITIONAL (PERMANENT) RESIDENT: A status conferred upon an
alien spouse and child(ren)
at the time of obtaining
Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) status, if the immigration status was
obtained (1) on a family based petition; or (2) on an investor visa, in
which case the status applies to the members of the visa holder's family.
CONSULAR AGENT: An employee of the U.S. Department of State (DOS) for
the purpose of performing certain limited consular functions in an area
where there is a need for consular assistance, but there is no United States
CONSULAR PROCESSING: The process of applying for an
VISA or a
NONIMMIGRANT VISA at a U.S. consular post.
(1) A formal judgment
of guilt entered by a court. (2) A disposition in which, despite the
withholding of any adjudication of guilt, a judge or jury has found an
alien guilty (or the alien
has entered a plea of guilty or nolo contendere or has admitted
sufficient facts to warrant a finding of guilt) and the judge has ordered
some form of punishment, penalty or restraint.
CRIME OF MORAL TURPITUDE (CMT):
depraved offense that rises to the level of serving as a ground for
inadmissibility or removal under the Immigration and Nationality
Act. Defined in the Foreign Affairs Manual as a criminal act “done contrary
to justice, honesty, principle, or good morals; an act of baseness,
vileness, or depravity in the private and social duties which a man owes his
fellow man, or to society in general, contrary to the accepted and customary
rule of right and duty between man and man. Moral turpitude implies
something immoral in itself, regardless of the fact whether it is punishable
by law. It must not be merely mala prohibita, but the act itself must
be inherently immoral. The doing of the act itself, and not its prohibition
by statute, fixes the moral turpitude.” See also good
moral character and
DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY:
The agency into which
the former Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) was folded effective
March 1, 2003.
DIVERSITY LOTTERY: The immigrant visa lottery program established by the 1990 Immigration Act
that makes available up to 55,000
VISAS per year to persons from low-admission states and
DUAL NATIONALITY: Possessing two citizenships at the same time. United
NATURALIZATION law does not require that an applicant for
U.S. CITIZENSHIP act in any way to withdraw or revoke his own
citizenship when taking the Oath of Allegiance to the United States.
Dual nationality can
occur by birth in one country to citizens of another country, by marriage to
a foreign national, and by foreign naturalization. Certain countries do not
accept dual citizenship, and require relinquishment of former citizenship
NATURALIZATION to U.S. citizenship.
EMPLOYER SANCTIONS: Civil and criminal penalties imposed on employers
and individuals who hire or refer for a fee
aliens who are not
authorized to work in the United States.
EMPLOYER VERIFICATION: A procedure established by the Immigration Reform
and Control Act (IRCA) requiring employers to verify identify and
eligibility to work.
EMPLOYMENT AUTHORIZATION DOCUMENT (EAD): Official document authorizing
an immigrant or
nonimmigrant to work. See
also work permit.
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. See
EXECUTIVE OFFICE FOR IMMIGRATION REVIEW (EOIR): A branch of the U.S.
Department of Justice that encompasses the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA),
Office of the Chief Immigration Judge (including all the
Immigration Judges), and
the Office of the Chief Administrative Hearing Offices (OCAHO).
EXPATRIATION: The loss of
U.S. CITIZENSHIP or nationality by the voluntary performance of one
of the acts listed in the Immigration and Nationality Act.
FIANCÉ(E) OF U.S. CITIZEN:
alien coming to the United States to conclude a valid
marriage with a U.S. citizen within 90 days after entry. See
FOREIGN NATIONAL: See
GOOD MORAL CHARACTER: The guidelines an
immigrant must meet to
become a naturalized citizen.
CITIZENSHIP AND NATURALIZATION.
GREEN CARD: The card (no longer green) that identifies an
immigrant as a
Lawful Permanent Resident
GREEN CARD SERVICES.
GREEN CARD HOLDER: Also termed a Legal Permanent Resident, a "green card
holder" is an immigrant
who may live permanently in the United States. See also
Lawful Permanent Resident
who, because of their close relationship to U.S. citizens, are exempt from
the numerical limitations (cap) 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. See FAMILY VISAS.
IMMIGRANT: An immigrant is an individual seeking to become a
Lawful Permanent Resident
in the United States. See
A document required by
the Immigration and Nationality Act and properly issued by a consular
officer at his office outside of the United States to an eligible
immigrant. An immigrant visa permits an
alien to be admitted to the United States for
permanent residence. It has a six-month validity and
the intending immigrant must apply for admission
during this period. See IMMIGRANT VISAS.
IMMIGRATION JUDGE: Administrative law judge who presides over removal
system that allows the public to make an appointment online with the
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) in
their local area. Please visit
www.uscis.gov to learn more.
INSPASS (INS Passenger Accelerated Service System):
An automated system
utilizing kiosks at ports or entry, designed to reduce immigration
inspection processing time for authorized travelers.
INTENT: The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) presumes that every
alien seeking admission to
the United States intends to live and/or work permanently in the U.S. If the
alien is not an
immigrant, he must
establish to the satisfaction of the admitting immigration officer at the
port of entry that he is entitled to enter the United States on a
alien, employed for at least one continuous year out of the last
three by an international firm or corporation, who seeks to enter the United
States temporarily in order to continue to work for the same employer, or a
subsidiary or affiliate, in a capacity that is primarily managerial,
executive, or involves specialized knowledge, and the alien’s spouse and
minor unmarried children. See L VISAS.
INVESTOR: There are immigrant and nonimmigrant
investors. A nonimmigrant
investor may obtain a
NONIMMIGRANT VISA if his country and the United States have a treaty
of friendship, commerce and navigation (FCN) or a bilateral investment
treaty (BIT). An immigrant
investor may obtain permanent residence on an employment creation basis for
persons who invest at least $1 million ($500,000 in certain geographic
regions) and create at least 10 jobs. See
LABOR CERTIFICATION: Certification by the Department of Labor that there
(1) exists an insufficient number of U.S. workers who are able, willing,
qualified, and available at the place of proposed employment and that (2)
employment of the alien
for whom labor certification is sought will not adversely affect the wages
and working conditions of similarly employed U.S. workers.
In December 2004, the
U.S. Department of Labor issued its long-awaited PERM
regulations, which, effective March 28, 2005, established a new system for
filing labor certifications. See
LABOR CONDITION APPLICATION (LCA):
The U.S. Department of
Labor Form ETA-9035, approval of which must be submitted with an
H-1B VISA petition. This can also
be filed electronically with Form ETA-9035E. The LCA is an attestation by
an employer seeking to hire an H-1B nonimmigrant to four conditions of
employment: (1) that the employer is paying the H-1B nonimmigrant at least
the higher of the actual wage paid by the employer to others in the same
occupation with similar experience and qualifications or the prevailing wage
for the occupation in the geographical area of the work site; (2) that the
employment of the H-1B nonimmigrant will not adversely affect the working
conditions of similarly employed workers; (3) that there is not a strike,
lockout, or work stoppage in the occupation for which the H-1B nonimmigrant
is being hired; and (4) that notice of the hiring of the H-1B nonimmigrant
has been provided. See H-1B VISAS.
LAWFUL PERMANENT RESIDENT (LPR): An
immigrant who has obtained
a Green Card, thus
entitling him to live permanently in the United States.
A lawful permanent
resident may engage in employment but may not vote in U.S. elections. LPR
status is the status gained by a person who is admitted to the United States
with an IMMIGRANT VISA or has had
his or her status adjusted to permanent residence after having first been
admitted as a nonimmigrant. Lawful permanent
residence also may be obtained after a person has been granted
asylum or was admitted to the United States as a
addition, a person who has been in the United States for more than 10 years
and is able to establish the requisite degree of hardship may be granted
permanent residency following the “cancellation” of his or her removal
proceeding. LPR status may be taken away for the commission of certain acts
that can result in deportability or inadmissibility or lost through
A reference to the
Immigration and Naturalization Service that acknowledges its status as the
predecessor to the Department of Homeland Security.
LEGALIZATION: A program established in 1996 to grant an
alien temporary residence
status which would later entitle the
immigrant to apply for
Also referred to as
“temporary resident status” and “amnesty.”
MOTION TO RECONSIDER: A legal document that must be filed within 30 days
of entry of a final administrative order of removal by the
United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), an Immigration Judge, or the Board of
Immigration Appeals (BIA), seeking reconsideration of the case by pointing
out errors of law or fact in the prior order.
MOTION TO REOPEN: A legal document that must filed within 90 in
proceedings before the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), an
Immigration Judge, or the
Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA), showing new facts not available at the
original proceeding by using affidavits or other evidence.
NATIONAL: A person owing allegiance to his or her country of origin.
A person who can
establish that he or she has a residence abroad that he or she has no
intention of abandoning, who is coming to the United States for a temporary
period. Some of the nonimmigrant categories are students, tourists, and
treaty investors. See NONIMMIGRANT
NOTICE TO APPEAR (NTA): A document issued by the United
States Citizenship and
Immigration Services (USCIS) to commence removal proceedings of an
A job classification
system that has replaced the Dictionary of Occupational Titles.
Permission granted by
the Department of Homeland Security
allowing a person to physically enter the United States yet still be
considered to have not legally entered the country. A person paroled into
the U.S. is treated in a legal sense as if he or she were still at the
border’s edge seeking permission to enter. While parolees are not afforded
any legal rights or benefits greater than those seeking admission, they are
provided with legal documents that permit their presence in the United
States. Examples include parole for humanitarian or family unification
purposes, and parole to proceed with the process of
adjustment of status
that would otherwise be considered to have been abandoned.
Any travel document issued by a competent authority showing the bearer’s
origin, identity, and nationality if any, which is valid for the admission
of the bearer into a foreign country.
PERMANENT RESIDENT: See also lawful permanent resident
green card holder.
PROGRAM ELECTRONIC REVIEW MANAGEMENT SYSTEM (PERM):
A new system,
effective March 28, 2005, for filing labor certification
applications. The system uses automated computer systems to scan
attestation forms filed by employers regarding their compliance with all
PHYSICAL PRESENCE: The state of being in the United States for at least
part of a day.
NATURALIZATION as a U.S.
citizen or claims of derivative citizenship, this is a key concept and must
not be confused with residence.
IMMIGRANT VISAS that are subject to
numerical limitations, the classification into which the intending
immigrant falls, based on the relationship to the
sponsor (for FAMILY VISAS) or the
nature of the anticipated employment.
The date on which a
person submitted documentation establishing prima facie eligibility for an
IMMIGRANT VISA. For
FAMILY VISAS, a person’s priority date is
the date on which he or she filed the family-based preference petition. If
the alien relative has a priority date on or before
the date listed in the Visa Bulletin (published monthly), then he or she is
eligible for an IMMIGRANT VISA.
For employment-based cases, it is the date of the filing of the
labor certification application, or if none is
required, the date the IMMIGRANT VISA
petition is filed.
An alternative method
of labor certification under the system in place
before March 28, 2005. Since that time, RIR and conventional
labor certification were completely revamped by the
Department of Labor’s PERM rules.
REENTRY PERMIT: A travel document issued to a
Lawful Permanent Resident
(LPR) permitting him to leave the United States temporarily.
A person must be
physically present in the United States to file the application, but may
depart during the adjudication period.
person outside of the United States who is unable or unwilling to return to
his or her country because of persecution or a well-founded fear of
persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a
particular social group, or political opinion. A refugee, once admitted,
may apply in one year for permanent resident
status. See also asylum.
REMOVAL: A proceeding to enforce the departure of inadmissible
aliens who are seeking
admission to the U.S., or who are currently in the United States but are
RESCISSION: Cancellation of prior
adjustment of status to
Lawful Permanent Resident
RESIDENCE: The actual dwelling place of an individual, without regard to
intent to stay.
established to handle the filing, data entry, and adjudication of certain
applications for immigration services and benefits. The service centers are
currently not staffed to receive walk-in applications or questions.
SEVIS (Student and Exchange Visitor Information System):
software application to track and monitor nonimmigrant students and exchange
visitors and their dependents. See STUDENT
VISAS (F VISAS) and J VISAS (EXCHANGE
STATUS VIOLATOR: A
nonimmigrant who may be subject to
removal because he
violates the terms of his
NONIMMIGRANT VISA status.
STUDENT VISA ABUSER: A ground for exclusion of a student because of his
failure to attend school, or public adult education or language programs.
TRANSMISSION REQUIREMENTS: The amount of time that a
citizen must spend in the
United States in order to be able to transmit
CITIZENSHIP to a child
born abroad of one citizen
and one alien parent.
UNITED STATES CITIZENSHIP AND IMMIGRATION SERVICES (USCIS):
On March 1, 2003, the
benefit functions of the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS)
transitioned into the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) as the United
States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
UNITED STATES CUSTOMS AND BORDER PROTECTION (CBP): On March 1, 2003, the
border inspection functions of the U.S. Customs Service, the Immigration and
Naturalization Service, and the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service,
along with the U.S. Border Patrol, were transferred to the Bureau of Customs
and Border Protection. To learn more, please go to:
UNITED STATES IMMIGRATION AND CUSTOMS ENFORCEMENT (ICE): On March 1, 2003,
functions of several border and security agencies including the U.S. Customs
Service, Federal Protective Service (FPS), and former Immigration and
Naturalization Service (INS) were transferred into the Directorate of Border
and Transportation Security within the Department of Homeland Security. As
part of this transition, these agency functions were reorganized into the
Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). To learn more, please
UNLAWFUL PRESENCE: Presence in the United States after the expiration of
stay authorized, which is noted on the I-94 Form.
A program designed
by the Department of Homeland Security to collect
and share information on foreign nationals traveling to the United States.
This system allows the U.S. government to record the entry and exit of non-U.S.
citizens and verify the identity of travelers coming in and out of the
official endorsement, obtained from a U.S. consul (abroad), certifying that
the bearer has been examined and is permitted to proceed for purposes of
seeking admission to the United States at a designated port of entry. There
are both IMMIGRANT VISAS and
NONIMMIGRANT VISAS. A visa does
not grant the bearer the right to enter the United States; it merely allows
one to attempt to seek admission at a port of entry. The Department of
State is responsible for visa adjudication at U.S. embassies and consulates
outside of the United States, under the guidance and ultimate authority of
the Department of Homeland Security. At the port
of entry, immigration inspectors determine admission into the U.S., as well
as the length and conditions of stay.
VISA WAIVER PROGRAM (VWP): Program that allows
nationals of certain
countries (mostly in western Europe) that have an agreement with the United
States to enter the U.S. for up to 90 days as visitors for business or
pleasure without first obtaining a visa from a U.S. consulate.
VOLUNTARY DEPARTURE: A procedure that allows an
alien to leave the United
States voluntarily before being
WAIVER: The removal of an impediment to obtaining a visa or status.
Examples include the two year home country
requirement for an
with a J visa, and the Labor
Certification process for professionals with advanced degrees and
aliens of exceptional
ability if in the national interest.
WORK PERMIT: Authorization to work in the United States. A U.S.
Lawful Permanent Resident
(LPR) is automatically authorized to work. Generally, a
NONIMMIGRANT VISA authorizing a
nonimmigrant to work in
the U.S. is limited as to time, and most always is limited by employer.
Other aliens physically
present in the United States may be eligible to apply for an
Document (EAD). See also