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.
The term used on the Alien Registration number. An “A” number is issued to all aliens applying for permanent residence.
This type of training is for students on a J-1 visa. The training is similar to students on an F-1 visa doing the Optional Professional Training (OPT). However, academic training is only for J-1 visa holders.
Citizenship bestowed at birth on children who are born overseas to U.S. citizen parent(s).
Act means the “Immigration and Nationality Act” (or INA), as amended.
American Competitiveness and Workforce Improvement Act of 1998.
The term describing the USCIS process of reviewing and processing applications and petitions.
Admission, related to immigration, means the lawful entry into the United States after inspection and authorization by an immigration officer. Note that admission excludes a person who is paroled or permitted tin the United States temporarily.
Adjustment of Immigrant Status
A process that permits foreigners who are already in the United States to apply for immigrant status. Foreign nationals who enter the United States as nonimmigrants, refugees, or parolees might have their status altered to that of legal permanent resident if they are qualified to obtain an immigrant visa and one is available right away. If the status is changed successfully, the alien is considered an immigrant as of the date of the adjustment-- regardless if the alien may have been in the United States for a long period of time.
The particular number is found on your I-94 card, which will change every time you enter the Unites States. Remember to give this card back once your leave the U.S. so there is a record of your U.S. entry and departure.
The term used when an immigrant who is undergoing an "adjustment of status" has legal permission to leave the United States and re-enter.
Affidavit of Support
The affidavit of support is a sworn document provided by an individual who will provide financial support to an alien that seeks to adjust existing status or enter the United States. In some cases, the Affidavit of Support is required and needs to be included as a part of the petition process. There are two Affidavits of Support: Form I-864 and Form I-134. Both forms have different uses and requirements, consult Form I-864 and Form I-134 for appropriate directions.
The description of an individual who has been convicted of any of numerous crimes set forth in INA Section 101(a)(43), 8 USC Section 1101. Aggravated felon status creates numerous substantive and procedural disabilities with respect to asylum, admissibility, removal, judicial review, etc., as set forth in INA Sections 298, 212, 237 - 242, 8 USC Sections 1158, 1182.
An agricultural worker is a foreign worker who is coming to the United States to carry out agricultural work or services, as defined by the Secretary of Labor, for a temporary period of time as a nonimmigrant.
Abbreviation for American Immigration Lawyers Association.
Any person who is not a citizen or national of the United States of America; foreigner.
Aliens Previously Removed
A term used to describe the inadmissibility for individuals previously removed from anywhere between 5 to 20 years, depending upon the circumstances of each case. INA Section 212(a)(9)(A), 8 USC Section 1182.
Public Law 97-359 (Act of 10/22/82) that permits certain Amer-asian children to immigrate to the United States. An alien must have been born in Cambodia, Korea, Laos, Thailand, or Vietnam after December 31, 1950, and before October 22, 1982, and have been fathered by a U.S. citizen for him/her to meet the requirements for benefits under this law.
Immigrant visas are granted to Amerasians under Public Law 100-202 (Act of 12/22/87). This law grants aliens who are born in Vietnam after January 1, 1962, and before January 1, 1976 admission to the United States provided he/she was fathered by a U.S. citizen. The alien may be accompanied by spouses, children, and parents or guardians.
The individual applying for visa, change of status or citizenship.
Application for Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration
The procedures for applying for immigrant status through a U.S. consulate.
Application Support Centers
USCIS applications for Naturalization or to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status necessitate the USCIS to carry out a FBI fingerprint background check on the applicant. Most applicants that require a background check have to be present for one at a specific Application Support Center (ASC) or Designated Law Enforcement Agency (DLEA) for fingerprinting purposes.
Apprehension refers to arresting a removable foreigner by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
Abbreviation for INS/USCIS Application Support Center
A foreigner in the United States or at a port of entry who is established to be incapable or reluctant to go back to his or her country of nationality because of persecution or a well-substantiated fear of persecution. The reasons for fear of persecution have to be the foreigner’s race, religion, nationality, membership in a unique social group, or political views. The country of nationality is considered to be the country in which the foreigner most recently lived for those without any nationality. Asylees are entitled to adjust to the legal permanent resident category after one year of continuous presence in the United States. This category is limited to 10,000 adjustments per fiscal year.
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