Glossary of Immigration Terms
It is important to familiarize yourself with the following immigration terms and abbreviations. These are common immigration terms used at USCIS offices, United States Embassies, and United States Consulates. You will also find these terms in immigration forms
and other legal documents.
Our Glossary of Immigration Terms is organized in alphabetical order and divided into sections due to its extensive size. Use the menu below to locate the term you are looking for.
Panama Canal Immigrant Act
The Act provides for admission of a maximum of 15,000 immigrants, at a rate of no more than 5,000 each year for applicable:
- Ex-employees of the Panama Canal Company or Canal Zone Government, their spouses, and accompanying children.
- Previous employees of the U.S. Government in the Panama Canal Zone who are Panamanian nationals, their spouses and children.
An overseas Doctor who is appointed by a local U.S. Embassy or Consulate to offer medical exams as required by the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) and USCIS (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services). Medical examinations that are not administrated by a Panel Physician will not be accepted by USCIS.
A parolee is a foreigner who appears to be inadmissible to the inspecting officer; however, he/she is permitted to enter the United States for urgent humanitarian reasons or if the admittance is deemed to be of an important public benefit. Parole is not an official right of entry to the United States and grants temporary status only, which requires parolees to leave when the conditions supporting their parole stop to exist.
A document that is issued by the government of the country of your citizenship. Passports have expiration dates, and while you travel in the U.S. your passport must remain valid throughout the entire duration of your stay.
The numerical limitations of family-sponsored and employment-based preference visas that can be issued to citizens of any country in a fiscal year.
Any person who is not a citizen of the United States and who lives in the U.S. under lawfully recognized and legally recorded permanent residence as an immigrant. A permanent resident is also referred to as a Permanent Resident Alien, Resident Alien Permit Holder, and Green Card Holder.
A generic word used to describe the forms used by the USCIS to determine eligibility for different visa categories.
Port of Entry
Any location in the United States or its territories where foreigners and U.S. citizens alike can enter the United States such as airports and border crossings.
A work program designed to let foreign students work in the United States after or during their university degree.
The process of inspecting airport passengers before departing from foreign countries to the United States. If passengers undergo pre-inspection before arriving to the United States, inspection will not be required upon arrival.
Preference System (Immigration Act of 1990)
The nine classes under which the family-sponsored and employment-based immigrant preference visas are granted as of 1992.
- The family-sponsored preferences are:
1. Unmarried sons and daughters of U.S. citizens
2. Spouses, children, and unmarried sons and daughters of permanent resident aliens
3. Married sons and daughters of U.S. citizens
4. Brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens.
- The employment-based preferences are:
6. Priority workers or those individuals that possess extraordinary abilities
7. Professionals with advanced degrees or foreigners with exceptional ability
8. Skilled workers, professionals without advanced degrees, and needed unskilled workers
9. Special immigrants
The wage that is provided by the Employment Development Department (EDD) after the sponsoring company has submitted a Prevailing Wage Determination Request.
A foreigner who submits an application for immigrant status. Spouses and children of a principal alien may also apply for legal immigration status under immigration law. The principal is the primary person applying as opposed to a dependent. For example; TN is a principal classification, and TD is the dependent classification.
This term refers to the date a petition is filed during a USCIS Immigrant visa application process. If the foreigner relative has a priority date on or before the date listed in the visa bulletin, then he or she is currently eligible for a visa.
► Click on the letters above for more U.S. Immigration Terms.