A # or Alien Registration Number
An 8 or 9 digit number starting with “A” assigned by DHS to foreign nationals as identification, often in connection with an application to adjust status, an application for Employment Authorization Document (“EAD”) or in removal proceedings.
Nonimmigrant visa classification for foreign government officials (such as ambassadors, heads of state, diplomats, etc.) and their immediate family members to enter the United States to engage in official diplomatic activities.
Nonimmigrant visa classification for attendants, servants, or personal employees of an A-1 or A-2 visa holder, and immediate family members, to enter the United States.
Abandonment of Permanent Resident Status
Loss of permanent resident status by taking up a permanent residence outside the United States. Absence from the United States of one year or more generally results in abandonment of permanent residence status but frequent shorter absences of long duration may also result in abandonment of permanent resident status.
Acronym for Alliance of Business Immigration Lawyers, an international association of business immigration lawyers which includes nineteen (19) of the top U.S. immigration law firms.
AC21 Green Card Portability
A foreign national in the employment-based green card process may change employers 180 days following Adjustment of Status if the immigrant visa petition is approved and the new job is in the same or similar occupational classification as the initial job for which the petition was filed.
The wage paid by the employer to other employees in the occupation with similar qualifications as a sponsored H-1B nonimmigrant or labor certification applicant. See also “prevailing wage.”
Processing and decision on applications and petitions by the USCIS.
Adjustment of Status
Term of art describing the application process by which a foreign national changes from nonimmigrant visa status to immigrant/permanent resident status while in the United States.
The 11-digit identification number located on Form I-94, Arrival/Departure Record, the document issued to foreign nationals following inspection and upon entry to the United States.
A foreign national is granted “admission” to the United States after inspection at a port-of-entry and authorization by a U.S. immigration official to enter the United States.
Permission (granted prior to departure) by USCIS to leave the United States and re-enter during the adjustment of status/permanent resident process. Advance Parole requires filing and approval of Form I-131, Application for Travel Document.
A Master’s degree or higher level of education. A Bachelor’s degree plus five years of progressive experience is also considered equivalent to an “advanced degree” for employment-based second preference classification.
Affidavit of Support
Sworn and notarized form by which an individual agrees to provide financial support to a foreign national seeking to enter the U.S. temporarily or permanently. Of the two types of Affidavits of Support, Form I-864 is a legally-binding contract required from sponsors of family-based immigrants and Form I-134 ,although not legally binding, demonstrates how a person will cover a foreign national’s expenses while in the United States.
The acronym for the American Immigration Lawyers Association, a national association of attorneys practicing immigration law.
A non-citizen or non-national of the United States. A foreign national.
Alien Registration Receipt Card
The previous name of document proving an individual has the authority to live and work in the United States indefinitely, aka the “Green Card,” “Permanent Resident Card,” or “Form I-551.”
Programs most recently established by the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 by which many previously undocumented aliens legalized their immigration status.
Application Support Centers
USCIS offices handling biometrics appointments where photographs and fingerprints are taken for an FBI background check required for permanent residence and/or U.S. citizenship.
Form I-797 Notice of Action by USCIS upon adjudication of an application or petition.
The acronym for Administrative Review Board, the highest Department of Labor administrative tribunal.
An alien who has been granted asylum in the U.S.
A long-term lawful status in the U.S. awarded to aliens who the DHS has determined have been persecuted or have a well-founded fear they will be persecuted on account of their race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion in their home country.
Nonimmigrant visa classification for visitors entering the United States temporarily for business purposes (but not employment in the United States).
Nonimmigrant visa classification for visitors entering the United States for pleasure.
A foreign national benefitting from approval of an immigrant or nonimmigrant petition.
Biometric Passport (also known as an “E-Passport”)
A passport with a small integrated computer chip embedded in the back cover. The chip contains a digital image of the passport photograph for use of facial recognition technology at ports-of-entry, a unique chip identification number and a digital signature to protect the stored data from tampering.
A way certain qualifying U.S. companies can pre-qualify to transfer employees to the United States on L-1 visas. A Blanket L-1 Approval enables a company to have the transfer employees to the U.S. without obtaining pre-clearance from USCIS. Instead, employees apply directly at the U.S. Consulate abroad for more expeditious visa issuance.
A term meaning “in good faith”. A “bona fide marriage” is one not entered into for the purpose of obtaining an immigration benefit.
Border Crossing Card (a.k.a. “BCC”)
A biometric, machine readable, visitor card issued residents of Canada and Mexico for entry to the United States for a specific period of time as B-1 visitors for business or B-2 visitors for pleasure.
Nonimmigrant visa classification for foreign nationals in transit through the United States.
Nonimmigrant visa classification for foreign nationals in transit through the United States as crewmen.
Nonimmigrant visa classification for foreign nationals traveling to the United Nations.
Nonimmigrant visa classification for foreign government officials, and members of their immediate family, attendants, servants, or personal employees, in transit through the United States.
California Service Center (“CSC”)
One of four USCIS service centers that processes certain immigration petitions and applications.
Cancellation of Removal
Discretionary relief from deportation from the United States, which cancels the deportation proceedings and restores or grants permanent resident status.
Cap for H-1B Visas
The quota of 65,000 new H-1B visas available each fiscal year. Once the cap is reached, no further new H-1B petitions can be approved until the following fiscal year.
The acronym for the United States Customs and Border Protection, the agency which controls U.S. ports-of-entry and is authorized to grant or deny individuals admission to the United States and determine how long they may remain in the U.S.
Certificate of Naturalization
An official document issued by the Department of Homeland Security evidencing an individual has become a naturalized citizen of the United States.
Change of Status
The process of switching from one nonimmigrant status to another.
An unmarried person under the age of 21. May include stepchildren, children of unmarried parents, adopted children and orphans.
Child Status Protection Act of 2002
Legislation passed to protect certain qualifying children from “aging out” of immigration benefits.
Filing an Application for Permanent Residence either along with an I-140 Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker or after the I-140 is filed but before it is approved. Also available for immediate relatives of United States citizens.
Conditional Permanent Resident (“CPR”)
A foreign national granted conditional permanent residence based on marriage to a U.S. citizen spouse or investing in the U.S. A conditional resident must file a petition to have the condition removed within the 90 day window before conditional permanent residence ends.
Conrad 30 Program
A program by which J-1 waivers may be granted in exchange for clinical practice either located in an HPSA or MUA, or serving patients in an HPSA or MUA.
U.S. Department of State official authorized to issue visas and process immigration documents at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate.
The process of applying for an immigrant visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate in order to enter the United States as a lawful permanent resident.
Country of Birth
The country in which a person is born.
Country of Chargeability
Generally, the country of birth of either the applicant or the applicant’s spouse for purposes of immigrant visa preference categories and numerical limitations.
Country of Citizenship
The country of an individual’s allegiance based on birth, citizenship of one’s parents or naturalization so long as that citizenship is not renounced or lost.
Country of Last Residence
The country where a foreign national last resided before entering the United States.
Country of Nationality
See country of citizenship.
Curricular Practical Training (“CPT”)
Employment authorized in connection with a course of study which includes alternate work/study programs, internships, cooperative education program and practicum experiences that are required for completion of the student’s degree program.
Nonimmigrant visa classification for foreign crewmembers of a vessel or aircraft on a stop or layover in the United States.
Nonimmigrant visa classification for foreign crewmembers who are departing by different means than the vessel or aircraft of arrival.
USCIS document denying a petition or application and normally containing information about the appeal process, if permitted.
Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”)
Executive Branch department responsible for administering and enforcing U.S. immigration law and policy and which includes Customs and Border Protection (“CBP”), Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) and Citizenship and Immigration Service (“USCIS”).
Department of Labor (“DOL”)
Executive Branch department responsible for administering and enforcing U.S. immigration law and policy relating to U.S. workforce issues, including the permanent employment (“labor”) certification application process.
Department of State (“DOS”)
Executive Branch department responsible for U.S. foreign affairs, including the issuance of nonimmigrant and immigrant visas at U.S. Consulates.
The spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 of a foreign national who can derive eligibility for an immigration benefit based on the spouse or parent’s status.
Designated Civil Surgeons
Doctors designated by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and the Public Health Service to perform medical examinations as part of the permanent residence application process.
Designated School Official (“DSO”)
A person at an educational institution who is responsible for processing immigration paperwork on behalf of international students, including the Form I-20, Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status.
Dictionary of Occupational Titles (“DOT”)
U.S. Department of Labor publication describing occupations by job title and description, and by what training and education is required to perform a job.
Diversity Visa Program (“DV Lottery”)
The “Green Card Lottery” is an annual program affording persons from countries with below-average immigration to the U.S. the chance to be randomly selected for eligibility to apply for permanent residence. A maximum number of 50,000 Diversity Visas (“DV”) are available each fiscal year to eligible persons.
DS-2019 (formerly IAP-66)
Department of State generated form issued to J-1 exchange visitor visa applicants.
A person who is a citizen of two or more countries because more than one country regards the person as having citizenship. The United States requires sole allegiance of all of its citizens including those with dual citizenship.
The doctrine that a temporary visa applicant may simultaneously intend to depart the United States following a temporary stay, while also intending to remain in the U.S. permanently, if legally eligible to do so.
Duration of Status (“D/S”)
Length of time for which diplomats, students, exchange visitors and international organization employees are permitted to stay in the United States. No expiration date of status is indicated on the I-94 card because the length of authorized stay is governed by the rules that apply to the visa category.
Nonimmigrant visa classification for Treaty Traders (E-1) or Treaty Investors (E-2), or employees of companies that qualify as Treaty Traders or Investment enterprises, and their spouses and children. E-1 and E-2 visa applicants must hold the same nationality as the treaty enterprise, be an owner or an employee in that enterprise, and be coming to the U.S. to further the business of that enterprise.
EB-1 (“Employment Based First Preference”)
The Employment Based 1st Preference Immigrant Visa category is reserved for “Priority Workers,” including foreign nationals of Extraordinary Ability in the sciences, arts, education, business or athletics; Outstanding Professors and Researchers; and Multinational Managers and Executives. No labor certification application is required. An immigrant petition is filed directly with USCIS and, for designation, priority dates generally remain current for most countries.
EB-2 (“Employment Based Second Preference”)
The Employment Based 2nd Preference Immigrant category is reserved for advanced degree professionals and foreign nationals with exceptional ability in the sciences, arts, or business. This category includes foreign nationals who are members of the professions holding advanced degrees (master’s or bachelor’s plus five years of progressive experience) and offered positions requiring advanced degrees. It also includes foreign nationals of exceptional ability who will work in positions that require such ability. A labor certification is required, unless the applicant can document that his/her admission is in the “national interest” of the United States.
EB-3 (“Employment Based Third Preference”)
The Employment Based 3rd Preference Immigrant category is reserved for professionals, skilled workers, and unskilled workers through a job offer and an approved labor certification application.
EB-4 (“Employment Based Fourth Preference”)
The Employment Based 4th Preference Immigrant category is reserved for certain special immigrants, including religious ministers and workers, certain retired government and international organization employees and their dependent family members.
EB-5 (“Employment Based Fifth Preference”)
The Employment Based 5th Preference Immigrant category is reserved for immigrant investors who invest a minimum of $1 million of capital ($500,000 of capital for investments in a “targeted employment area”) and create 10 full-time jobs for U.S. workers.
The acronym for Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates, the organization that certifies whether international medical graduates educated overseas have sufficient medical knowledge, clinical skill and English fluency to participate in an accredited U.S. residency or fellowship program in the United States.
Hardship attributed to unforeseen circumstances, like currency fluctuations or natural disasters.
Issued under authority of the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 to prohibit employers from hiring, recruiting, or referring for a fee, foreign nationals known to be unauthorized to work in the United States. Sanctions include civil fines for violations and criminal penalties when there is a pattern or practice of violations.
Employment and Training Administration (“ETA”)
Office of Department of Labor responsible for adjudicating applications for permanent employment certification (“labor certifications”), to enable an U.S. employer to hire a foreign worker to temporarily or permanently.
Employment Authorization Document (“EAD”)
A photo identification card evidencing the bearer’s authorization to work in the United States for a specific period of time and issued following the filing and approval of Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization.
The Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA) requires U.S. employers to verify the identity and work authorization of all employees (U.S. citizens and aliens) by completing Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification as of the date of hire, and reviewing original documentation presented by the employee.
Entry Without Inspection (“EWI”)
A foreign national who enters the United States illegally without being inspected by an immigration inspector at a port-of-entry.
See Biometric Passport.
An foreign national coming temporarily to the United States to participate in a program approved by the Secretary of State for the purpose of teaching, instructing or lecturing, studying, observing, conducting research, consulting, demonstrating special skills, or receiving training. Exchange visitors are subject to a two-year home residence requirement if (a) their program is financed by a U.S. government agency or their home country government, (b) their field appears on a skills list, or (c) they are receiving graduate medical education or training in the U.S. The Exchange Visitor category is also known as “J-1″ nonimmigrant status.
Exchange Visitor Skills List
A list of fields of specialized knowledge or skills designated by the Department of State as needed by the exchange visitor’s country of nationality or last residence.
Denial entry to the United States.
A procedure by which immigration inspectors at ports-of-entry make unreviewable determinations excluding individuals from the United States and barring from re-entry for at least five years.
Describes individuals who are part of the small percentage of those who have risen to the very top of a field of endeavor. Those with extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business or athletics may obtain permanent resident status, with or without an offer of employment in the United States in the employment-based first preference category of priority workers.
Nonimmigrant visa classification for foreign students.
Nonimmigrant visa classification for dependent spouses and children of foreign students
Process by which U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents can petition spouses, sons and daughters, and parents of U.S. citizens, and spouses and unmarried sons and daughters of permanent residents for permanent residence.
A government fee required for submitting an immigration form for processing.
First Preference, Employment Based
First Preference, Family Based (FB-1)
Immigrant visa classification reserved for U.S. citizens’ unmarried sons or daughters over the age of 21 years.
For purposes of visa availability, the United States government fiscal year begins October 1 and ends the following September 30.
Foreign Credentials Evaluation
An evaluation by someone authorized to grant college level credit which determines the U.S. academic equivalent to educational and experiential credentials from foreign countries.
A citizen or national of a country other than the United States; an “alien.”
Nonimmigrant Visa Application. A DOS form required for nonimmigrant visa issuance.
Application for Permanent Employment Certification. A DOL form used by a U.S. employer to file a labor certification application.
Notice of Entry of Appearance as Attorney or Representative. A USCIS form used to provide notice that an attorney is representing an employer or a foreign national.
Biographic Information. A USCIS form required as part of the permanent residence process.
Application for Replacement/Initial Nonimmigrant Arrival-Departure Document (I-94 card). A USCIS form required to request a replacement of an incorrect, lost, stolen or damaged I-94 card.
Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker. A USCIS form required to classify nonimmigrant workers for visas such as E, H, L, O and R.
Petition for Alien Fiance. A USCIS form used to petition a fiancé(e) (and that person’s children, if desired) to come to the United States for purposes of marriage.
Nonimmigrant Petition Based on Blanket L. A USCIS form used by employers to classify employees as L-1 nonimmigrant intracompany transferees (executives, managers, or specialized knowledge professionals) under a blanket L approval.
Petition for Alien Relative. A USCIS form used by a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident to sponsor certain foreign national relatives for permanent residence.
Application for Travel Document. A USCIS form used to request a travel document, reentry permit, refugee travel document or advance parole.
Affidavit of Support. A USCIS form used by foreign nationals to document that they will be financially supported and will not become a public charge of United States.
Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker. A USCIS form filed on behalf of a foreign national worker as part of the permanent residence process.
Form I-20, Certificate of Eligibility for F-1 Student Status
Official DHS document confirming eligibility for F-1 Student Status and describing length of time authorized for studies.
Application to Adjust Status. A USCIS form submitted by a foreign national as part of the permanent residence process.
Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status. A USCIS form used to request temporary extensions of stay or changes from one nonimmigrant visa classification to another.
The Permanent Resident Card (“Green Card”). A photo identification card issued by USCIS to document that an individual authorized to live and work in the United States indefinitely.
Application for Asylum. A USCIS form used to apply for asylum and for withholding of removal from the U.S.
Application for Waiver of the Foreign Residence Requirement of Section 212(e) of the Immigration and Nationality Act. A USCIS form used by certain exchange workers (J-1 and J-2 visas) and their family members to apply for a waiver of the two year home residence requirement.
Medical Examination of Aliens Seeking Adjustment of Status. A USCIS form completed by a civil surgeon designated by USCIS who determines whether an applicant is medically admissible to the United States.
Petition to Remove the Conditions on Residence. A USCIS form used by conditional residents who obtained status through marriage to remove the conditions on his or her residence.
Application for Employment Authorization. A USCIS form used to request an Employment Authorization Document (“EAD”).
Application for Action on an Approved Application or Petition. A USCIS form used to request a duplicate “Approval Notice” or to notify a consulate of a previously approved petition.
Affidavit of Support. A USCIS form used to document that the intending immigrant has enough financial support to avoid relying upon U.S. government welfare.
Employment Eligibility Verification Form. A USCIS form that a US Company must use to ensure to confirm an employee’s identity and authorization to work.
Request for Premium Processing Service. A USCIS form used by employers to request expedited processing of certain employment-based petitions and applications.
Form I-94, I-94W
An official record of admission and permission to stay in the United States as a nonimmigrant. Issued on a white-colored paper document, the top portion of which is collected by CBP upon arrival to the U.S., and the bottom portion which is the “Departure Record” portion stapled in the passport. The Departure Record portion specifies the date, place of arrival, nonimmigrant status and length of time a foreign national is authorized to stay in the United States. The Nonimmigrant Visa Waiver Arrival/Departure Form is a green-colored paper document, only issued to nonimmigrant visitors who are nationals of countries participating in the visa waiver program. Electronic print-outs of these documents are available at www.cbp.gov in lieu of the paper format.
Form I-944 Declaration of Self-Sufficiency
A form the USCIS requires for applicants for adjustment of status who are subject to the public charge ground of inadmissibility and certain applicants and petitioners seeking extension of stay and change of status to report certain information related to public benefits.
Application for Naturalization. A USCIS form used to apply for U.S. citizenship.
Fourth Preference, Family Based (FB-4)
Immigrant classification assigned to brothers and sisters of adult U.S. citizens.
Fraud Prevention and Detection Fee
A fee of $500 which must be submitted with each new H-1B and L-1 petition filed by an employer. Revenue raised from the collection of this fee is distributed equally to the Department of Homeland Security, Department of State and Department of Labor to prevent fraudulent applications and to prosecute those seeking immigration benefits by fraud.
G-1, G-2, G-3, G-4, G-5
Nonimmigrant visa classification reserved for employees of international organizations and members of their immediate family.
The USCIS issued document, Form I-551, evidencing U.S. lawful permanent residence.
Nonimmigrant visa classification reserved for temporary professional workers in a specialty occupation.
Quota of H-1B visas issued each government fiscal year.
Allows an individual in valid H-1B status to begin work for a new H-1B employer once the new employer files with USCIS an H-1B petition to extend and amend the H-1B employee’s status to authorize work with the new employer.
Nonimmigrant visa classification reserved for nurses to work for up to three years in health professional shortage areas.
Nonimmigrant visa classification reserved for temporary agriculture workers whose services are needed in the United States.
Nonimmigrant visa classification reserved for “temporary workers” providing services or labor for a one-time occurrence, a seasonal need, a peak load need or an intermittent need.
Nonimmigrant visa classification reserved for individuals who will be receiving training in the U.S..
Nonimmigrant visa classification reserved for dependent spouses and children of H-1B, H-2 and H-3 nonimmigrants.
The acronym for Health Professional Shortage Area. An area recognized as having shortages of primary medical care, dental or mental health providers which may be geographic (a county or service area), demographic (low income population) or institutional (comprehensive health center, federally qualified health center or other public facility).
An extraordinary measure allowing an otherwise inadmissible alien into the United States for a temporary period of time due to a very compelling “humanitarian” emergency, such as for a medical emergency.
Nonimmigrant classification reserved for journalists, representatives of media and their immediate family members.
I-94 Card/Form I-94 Arrival and Departure Record
See “Form I-94″
The acronym for International Medical Graduates.
Spouses of U.S. citizens, children (under 21 years of age and unmarried) of U.S. citizens, and parents of U.S. citizens 21 years of age or older.
A person coming to the United States for the purpose of permanent residence.
Immigrant Visa (“IV”)
An immigrant visa is issued at a U.S. consulate to a foreign national intending to live and work permanently in the United States.
An acronym for the Immigration and Nationality Act, the statute enacting United States immigration law.
A person coming to the United States who intends to remain permanently or indefinitely. Generally, any visitor is presumed to be an “intending immigrant” until he/she proves otherwise.
Interested Government Agency (“IGA”)
A U.S. government agency that sponsors J-1 exchange visitors for waivers of the two-year home residence requirement so that they can participate in activities furthering the agency’s official mandate.
Intracompany Transferee spouse or child
Investment-Based Immigrants (EB-5)
Investors of $500,000 to $1 million in a U.S. enterprise that creates jobs for at least ten U.S. workers.
The acronym for the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986, which granted “amnesty” for certain persons illegally in the United States, and contained a requirement that employers verify the identity and employment authorization of every worker they hired.
The acronym for the Internal Revenue Service, the agency which collects taxes and administers the U.S. tax law.
The acronym for Individual Taxpayer Identification Number, a 9-digit identification number issued by the IRS. Used to identify a person for tax purposes if they have no authorization to work but have reportable income or another tax filing requirement. ITINs are not intended to be used to report wage income.
Nonimmigrant visa classification reserved for exchange visitors, who are coming to participate in a program authorized by the Department of State to promote mutual cultural understanding between the United States and their home countries. J-1 categories include students, scholars/researchers, trainees, secondary school teachers, college professors, au pairs, medical residents, government visitors, and specialists or leaders in fields of specialized knowledge or skill.
Nonimmigrant visa classification reserved for spouses and children of J-1 exchange visitors. J-2 visa holders may apply for employment authorization, so long as their employment income is not needed for the support of the J-1 spouse.
Nonimmigrant visa classification reserved for a fiancé(e) of a United States Citizen; it requires the fiancé(e) to marry the U.S. citizen within 90 days of entry to the U.S. and to obtain permanent residence only through sponsorship by that U.S. citizen.
Nonimmigrant visa classification reserved for the child of a K-1 fiancé(e) who qualifies to immigrate as the child of the U.S. citizen petitioner once the child’s parent marries the U.S. citizen.
Nonimmigrant visa classification reserved for the spouse of a U.S. Citizen. The U.S. Citizen spouse must file an I-130 Immigrant Petition for Alien Relative and a separate I-129F Petition.
Nonimmigrant visa classification reserved for the child of a K-3 visa holder who will qualify to immigrate as the child of the U.S. citizen petitioner.
Nonimmigrant visa classification reserved for a foreign national, employed overseas for at least one year within the prior three, who seeks to enter the United States temporarily in order to continue to work for the same employer, or a parent, subsidiary or affiliate, in managerial, executive, or specialized knowledge capacity.
The spouse or minor child of an L-1A or L-1B nonimmigrant. L-2 spouses may be issued employment authorization.
Determination by the U.S. Department of Labor that there are no able, willing, qualified and available U.S. workers for the job in question in the area of intended employment. A labor certification is required for most employment-based immigrant petitions in the employment-based second preference and for all immigrant petitions in the employment-based third preference. It is also required for H-2A and H-2B temporary workers. Employment of the foreign national must not adversely affect similarly employed US work wages and working conditions.
Labor Condition Application (“LCA”)
The Department of Labor’s Form ETA-9035, Labor Condition Application, by which an employer attests that the foreign national worker will be the higher of the actual wage paid for a similar position with the employer and the prevailing rate paid by other employers in the geographic area. Employment of the foreign national must not “adversely affect” the working conditions of other similarly employed U.S. workers. U.S. workers must be given notice of the employment and there must be no strike or lockout at the worksite.
Lawful Permanent Residence
Authorization to live and work in the United States indefinitely; a “green card.”
An acronym for Lawful Permanent Resident.
Nonimmigrant visa classification reserved for students at vocational schools or other non-academic students.
Nonimmigrant visa classification reserved for the spouses and children of M-1 visa holders.
Medically Underserved Area (“MUA”)
An area designated as having shortages of primary medical care, dental or mental health providers which may be geographic (a county or service area), demographic (low income, Medicaid-eligible populations, cultural and/or linguistic access barriers to primary medical care services).
Multinational Manager or Executive (with respect to the L-1A visa and priority worker category)
Must primarily manage the organization, or a department, subdivision, function or component of the organization. Also supervises and controls the work of other supervisory, professional or managerial employees, or manages an essential function within the organization or a department or subdivision of the organization; has the authority hire and fire, or recommend those as well as other personnel actions (such as promotion and leave authorization; manages an essential function and operates at a senior level within the organizational hierarchy or with respect to the function being managed; exercises discretion over day-to-day operations of that function; and spends most of his or her time performing managerial or executive duties rather than producing a product or providing a service.
Multiple Entry Visa
Allows the bearer to apply for admission to the United States multiple times without having to reapply for a new visa at a U.S. consulate.
Nonimmigrant visa classification reserved for a parent of a foreign national classified as a SK-3 “Special Immigrant.”
Nonimmigrant visa classification reserved for a child of a N-8, SK-1, SK-2, or SK-4 “Special Immigrant.”
An acronym for the North American Free Trade Agreement which created the TN nonimmigrant category for Canadian and Mexican professionals for certain specified occupations.
National Interest Waiver (“NIW”)
An exemption from the requirements of a job offer and labor certification normally imposed on an employment based where it is established that the exemption is in the interest of the United States by showing that the foreign national is engaged in a project with “substantial intrinsic merit,” that the benefit of the immigrant’s work will be “national in scope,” and that he/she has already made, and will likely make in the future, substantial contributions to the field.
Nonimmigrant visa classification reserved for members of the armed services of the nations of the NATO, staff members, attendants, servants and personal employees of NATO personnel.
The process by which a person obtains citizenship. A foreign national who has held permanent residence for five years (three if based on marriage to a U.S. citizen) can apply for naturalization with the USCIS in order to become a U.S. citizen.
Nebraska Service Center (“NSC”)
One of four USCIS service centers that processes certain immigration petitions and applications.
No Objection Waiver
A type of waiver of the two-year home residence requirement granted when exchange visitor’s home country indicates that it does not object to the exchange visitor not returning to that country for the two-year period.
Nonimmigrant Visa (“NIV”)
Nonimmigrant visas are issued to foreign nationals seeking to enter the United States on a temporary basis for tourism, business, medical treatment and certain types of temporary employment. All nonimmigrant visas are issued at U.S. consulates outside the United States, and may require pre-clearance by USCIS before the visa can be issued.
Notice of Action (Form I-797)
Issued by USCIS as proof that a petition or application is received and in process, as a fee receipt or Approval Notice.
Notice of Filing
A notice that is posted for a period of ten business days (excluding weekends and federal holidays) to demonstrate a company’s intent to file a labor certification application on behalf of a foreign worker. The posting verifies that the salary offered is 100% of the prevailing wage for other workers in the same profession.
A classification system for jobs based on the Standard Occupational Classification system, used by the DOL to establish “normal” requirements and wage levels for all U.S. occupations.
Nonimmigrant visa classification reserved for individuals of extraordinary ability in sciences, arts, education, business or athletics, who have risen to the very top of their field of endeavor, or in the case of performing artists, have achieved “distinction.”
Nonimmigrant visa classification reserved for essential support personnel accompanying O-1 visa holders.
Nonimmigrant visa classification reserved for the spouse and children of O-1 or O-2 visa holders.
Online Wage Library (“OWL”)
The Department of Labor’s online searchable database of occupational wages based on the O*NET classification system.
Optional Practical Training (“OPT”)
A 12-month period of employment authorization that a student may take during schools breaks, while school is in session, after completion of all course requirements except a thesis or dissertation or after completion of studies. Employment may be full or part-time, but must be part-time if the student is still attending classes. OPT must be approved by USCIS before the student can commence employment. Any student who works for one year or more in full-time curricular practical training is not eligible for optional practical training. A 17-month extension of post-graduate OPT may be granted to graduates holding U.S. STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) degrees and working for employers participating in E-Verify.
Out of Status
Result of failure of a nonimmigrant to maintain proper nonimmigrant status in the United States, or of a foreign national to enter the United States with inspection and admission.
Outstanding Researcher or Professor
Employment-based first preference immigrant visa category reserved for researchers and professors who are “recognized internationally as outstanding in the academic field,” who possess three years of experience in teaching and/or research in the academic field.
A foreign national who has exceeded the duration of authorized stay in the U.S. by remaining after the date indicated on the Arrival-Departure Record, Form I-94.
Nonimmigrant visa classification reserved for individual or team athletes, or entertainment groups.
Nonimmigrant visa classification reserved for artists and entertainers in reciprocal Exchange programs.
Nonimmigrant visa classification reserved for artists and entertainers in culturally unique programs.
Nonimmigrant visa classification reserved for spouses and children of P-1, P-2, and P-3 visa holders.
Permission to enter the United States for a temporary purpose without being admitted as a nonimmigrant, immigrant or U.S. citizen.
Foreign nationals who have been paroled into the United States. See “Parole.”
A formal identification document issued by a government that identifies the bearer as a citizen or national of a particular country and permits him/her to gain admission into a foreign country. Passports may be Ordinary/Regular, Official, or Diplomatic.
A quota of family-sponsored and employment-based preference visas that can be issued to citizens of any country in a fiscal year.
PERM (“Program Electronic Review Management”)
The system by which the Department of Labor adjudicates labor certification applications. Under this system, employers submit an application electronically or by mail to the DOL in which they attest to the steps taken to recruit U.S. workers, and the inability to locate a qualified and available U.S. worker for the position.
A foreign national who has been lawfully admitted to the United States to live and work in the United States on an indefinite basis; a “green card” holder.
Permanent Resident Card
Document evidencing that an individual has the authority to live and work in the United States indefinitely. Also known as “Green Card,” “Alien Registration Receipt Card” or “Form I-551.”
The employer or U.S. citizen/permanent resident relative, who files a petition on behalf of a foreign national.
A certification by the police authorities of a country that an applicant has no criminal record, or what the applicant’s arrest history is. An applicant for an immigrant visa at a U.S. Consulate abroad must obtain a certificate from the appropriate police authority in all countries where the foreign national has lived for six months or more since age 16.
Port of Entry (“POE”)
The specific location where United States citizens and foreign nationals are admitted into the United States (i.e. international airports, seaports, and land border crossings).
A service offered by USCIS that provides expedited processing of certain employment-based petitions and applications. Specifically, the USCIS will expedite a case for a filing fee of $1,000, which guarantees a processing time or refund.
The average wage for the occupation in the geographic area in which the employee will be employed, or the wage set for the position by a union contract.
The date which determines an individual’s place in line in becoming a permanent resident of the United States. The priority date is typically the filing date of the immigrant petition or labor certification application. The priority date must be current per the Department of State’s monthly Visa Bulletin in order for an applicant to proceed with the last step of the permanent residence process.
The amount of time it takes a government agency to adjudicate a petition or application.
Occupations that require at least a United States bachelor degree or its equivalent as the minimum education required to perform the job duties.
With respect to the EB-3 category, professional workers are those who are offered and qualify for jobs that require at least attainment of a bachelor’s degree.
Immigrants who become dependent upon public welfare may be deemed “public charges” by the U.S. government and become deportable. All immigrants must establish that they are not likely to become a public charge as a condition of admission.
Public Inspection File
A file containing all of the documentation required by DOL regulations in support of attestations an employee makes on an LCA in connection with employing an H-1B nonimmigrant worker. The file must be maintained for at least one year beyond the end H-1B employment.
Nonimmigrant visa classification reserved for foreign nationals employed in cultural exchange programs.
Nonimmigrant visa classification reserved for individuals participating in the Irish Peace Process Cultural and Training Program (“Walsh Visas”).
Nonimmigrant visa classification reserved for dependents of Q-2 visa holders.
Annual numerical limitation on the number of visas based on country of chargeability and job classification.
Nonimmigrant visa classification reserved for religious workers who have been members of a religious denomination and who are coming to the United States to be employed by that “religious denomination having a bona fide, nonprofit religious organization in the United States.
Nonimmigrant visa classification reserved for spouse and children of R-1 religious workers.
Form I-797, Notice of Action, that establishes that USCIS has received a petition or application and its filing fee and is now processing it.
A receipt number consists of three letters (EAC, WAC, LIN or SRC) followed by ten numbers. It is provided in the upper left-hand corner of a Receipt Notice (Form I-797, Notice of Action), which acknowledges the filing of a petition with the USCIS. For example: EAC-123-45-67890.
Found in the Department of State’s Foreign Affairs Manual, the “visa reciprocity schedule” indicates the maximum validity period for each type of visa for nationals of each country, based on the same or “reciprocal” treatment given to U.S. travelers to that country on similar types of visas.
Reentry Permit (Form I-131, Application for Travel Document)
Document issued to permanent residents to allow for extended travel outside the United States without abandoning permanent resident status, generally valid for two years.
Absence from the United States of one year or more can result in abandonment of permanent residence status absent a reentry permit.
A person fleeing persecution from his/her home country on the basis of race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular social group.
Refugee Travel Document
Document generally valid for one year granted to refugees and/or asylees to travel abroad and reenter the United States
A hearing before an Immigration Judge to determine if a person should be deported from the United Status.
An acronym for the Department of Labor’s pre-PERM procedure for issuing labor certifications based on an employer’s request for “Reduction in Recruitment.”
S-1 to S-6
Nonimmigrant visa classification for reserved for informants with information on criminal or terrorist organizations.
Second Preference, Family Based (FB-2)
Immigrant classification assigned to spouses and children (the FB-2A classification) and unmarried sons and daughters (the FB-2B classification) of lawful permanent residents.
An acronym for the Department of Labor’s State Employment Service Agency, which issues prevailing wage determinations for the labor certification process. Now known as the State Workforce Agency (SWA).
An acronym for the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System, an internet-based system that maintains current, “live” information on nonimmigrant students, exchange visitors and their dependents and enables schools and program sponsors to transmit mandatory information and event notifications (such as registration for a full course of study for the semester) via the Internet, to the Department of Homeland Security and Department of State throughout a student or exchange visitor’s stay in the United States.
Single Entry Visa
A visa which allows the bearer only one admission into the United States.
With respect to the EB-3 category, skilled those who are offered and qualify for jobs that require at least two years of post-secondary education, training or experience.
An acronym for Standard Occupational Classification system, used by the federal government to classify all possible jobs in the United States into a limited number of “occupational classifications” based on job responsibilities and education and experience requirements.
Specialized Knowledge Employee
With respect to the L-1B visa category, one who has specialized knowledge of an organization’s product, service, research, equipment, techniques, management or other interests and its application in international markets, or an advanced level of knowledge or expertise of the organization’s processes and procedures.
With respect to the H-1B visa category, an occupation requiring specialized knowledge normally obtained through the minimum of at least a Bachelor’s (or foreign equivalent) degree in a specific field. Criteria for determining a “specialty occupation” include: whether the employer normally requires a degree or its equivalent for the position; and/or whether the nature of the specific duties is so specialized and complex that knowledge required to perform them is usually associated with having attained a minimum of a bachelor’s degree.
The process of bringing a foreign national to the United States by filing a family- or employment-based visa petition.
Classification and specific amount of time a nonimmigrant may remain in the United States following admission.
The acronym for the State Workforce Agency of the Department of Labor that has jurisdiction over the proposed area of employment and is responsible for issuing prevailing wage determinations. Formerly SESA.
T-1 through T-4
Nonimmigrant visa classification reserved for victims of a severe form of trafficking in persons and their immediate family members.
Targeted Employment Area
A targeted employment area is a rural or geographical area that has experienced unemployment at a rate of at least 150% of the national average rate. Individual states are authorized to designate geographical areas that qualify as targeted employment areas. 3,000 of the 10,000 visas available for EB-5 investors are reserved for investments in targeted employment areas.
Nonimmigrant visa classification reserved for spouse and children of TN workers.
Temporary Protected Status (“TPS”)
A status reserved for certain foreign nationals permitted temporary refuge in the Unites States for personal safety due to ongoing armed conflict or an environmental disaster in their home country.
Applies to foreign nationals unlawfully present in the United States for a period of one year or more who leave the U.S. voluntarily.
Texas Service Center (“TSC”)
One of four USCIS service centers that processes certain immigration petitions and applications.
Third Preference, Family Based (FB-3)
Immigrant classification assigned to married sons and daughters of U.S. citizens.
Applies to foreign nationals unlawfully present in the United States for a continuous period of more than 180 days, but less than one year, and who leave the U.S. voluntarily.
Nonimmigrant visa classification reserved for professionals in certain specified occupations from Canada and Mexico pursuant to the North American Free Trade Agreement (“NAFTA”).
Acronym for Test of English as a Foreign Language, an English language proficiency examination.
A nonimmigrant coming to the United States, under the provisions of a treaty of friendship, commerce and navigation or bilateral investment between the United States and the country of which the foreign national is a citizen, to carry on substantial trade or to direct the operations of an enterprise in which he/she has invested a substantial amount of capital.
Two-year home residence requirement (also known as “212(e) requirement,” “two-year rule,” or “return requirement”)
Exchange visitors whose stay was financed in whole or in part by their home government, or by the U.S. government; whose skills are in short supply in their home country; or whose stay was for graduate medical education, must return to their home country for two years before being eligible for H-1B, L-1 or permanent resident status.
U-1 through U-4
Nonimmigrant visa classification reserved for victims of certain crimes and their immediate family members.
Remaining in the U.S. for any period of time beyond the expiration date on the I-94 Departure Record or following a ruling that the status has been violated or after an entry to the United States without inspection.
With respect to the EB-3 category, an unskilled worker is one offered a position that requires less than two years of post-secondary education, training or experience. A limit of 5000 unskilled worker visas are available each year.
An acronym for United States Citizen.
An acronym for United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, part of the executive branch of the U.S. government responsible for processing applications for immigration benefits.
An acronym for United States Medical Licensing Examination.
Visa classification reserved for a spouse of a green card holder who is the principal beneficiary of a family-based petition filed before December 21, 2000, and pending for at least three years.
Visa classification reserved for a child of a green card holder who is the principal beneficiary of a family-based petition that was filed before December 21, 2000, and pending for at least three years.
The derivative child of a V-1 or V-2.
Vermont Service Center (“VSC”)
One of four USCIS service centers that processes certain immigration petitions and applications.
Violence Against Women Act (“VAWA”)
Allows certain battered immigrants (such as the spouses and children of United States citizens or legal permanent residents) to file for permanent residence on their own to seek refuge from an abuser who would otherwise be their sponsor for an immigration benefit.
A sticker issued by a U.S. Consulate/Embassy and placed in a foreign national’s passport authorizing the holder to apply for admission/entry into the United States in a particular visa classification.
The Department of State’s monthly list of immigrant visa preference categories and their quotas. Foreign nationals assigned a priority date on or before the date listed in the Visa Bulletin are currently eligible for the issuance of an immigrant visa or for adjustment of status to permanent residence.
Visa Waiver (“VW” or “VWP”)
Allows foreign nationals of certain countries to be admitted to the U.S. for 90 days or less for business or pleasure without first obtaining a nonimmigrant visa from a U.S. consulate. Nationals of Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brunei, Chile, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, San Marino, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom are eligible.
A person coming to the United States for a temporary stay. See “B-1,” “B-2,” and “Visa Waiver.”
Permission granted to a foreign national to leave the U.S. voluntarily, at his/her own expense, by a designated date without being deported by an immigration judge.
Waiver of the two-year home residence requirement
Available where there is: exceptional hardship to a U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse or children; persecution in the exchange visitor’s home country; at the request of an interested U.S. government agency; or a statement of no objection from their home country.
WB (or WT)
Nonimmigrant visa classification for individuals entering the United States for business or pleasure under the visa waiver program. (WB or WT is usually denoted in the passport and/or on the I-94 card and stands for “visa waiver for business” “visa waiver for tourism,” respectively).