A # or Alien Registration Number
An 8 or 9 digit number preceded by an "A' that is assigned by UCIS to foreign nationals as a type of identification, most often times when applying for adjustment of status to permanent resident. It is also assigned when applying for an Employment Authorization Document ("EAD") or if in removal proceedings.
Diplomatic nonimmigrant visa classification which allows 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 activities.
Nonimmigrant visa classification which allows an attendant, servant, or personal employee of an A-1 or A-2, 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 by a permanent resident from the United States of one year or more generally results in abandonment of permanent residence status. Frequent shorter absences of long duration may also lead to a finding of abandonment of permanent resident status.
Work, training or experience directly related to a J-1 nonimmigrant student's major field of study that is date and employer specific. It can be paid or unpaid and authorized during or after the completion of studies. J-1 work authorization is in the form of an annotation on the Form DS-2019 issued to the student, or a letter issued by their sponsor, or both. See "practical training" for F-1 nonimmigrants.
For H-1B nonimmigrants and for the labor certification process, part of the "required wage" that must be paid to the foreign national. The "actual wage" is the wage paid by the employer to other employees in the occupation with similar qualification. See also "prevailing wage."
Processing and approval or denial of applications and petitions by the USCIS.
Adjustment of Status
The procedure by which a foreign national changes/adjusts from a nonimmigrant visa status to an immigrant/ permanent resident status while in the United States.
Adjustment of Status Portability (a.k.a. "180-Day-Portability Rule")
The 180-Day Portability rule allows a foreign national whose permanent residence application is employer-sponsored to change employers 180 days after the filing of adjustment of status as long as 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.
An 11-digit identification number found on Form I-94, Arrival/Departure Record, which is issued to foreign nationals who have been inspected and are entering the United States.
A foreign national is deemed to be "admitted" to the United States after inspection and authorization by a U.S. immigration official and, the actual lawful act of entry into the United States.
The term used for legal permission (granted prior to departure) to leave the United States and re-enter during the adjustment of status/permanent resident process. Advance Parole is requested on Form I-131, Application for Travel Document.
An advanced educational degree is considered a Master's degree or higher or level of education. A Bachelor's degree plus five years of progressive experience is considered equivalent to an "advanced degree" for purposes of the employment-based second preference.
Affidavit of Support
Sworn and notarized document provided by an individual who will provide financial support to a foreign national seeking to visit, study in, immigrate to or adjust status in the United States. There are two Affidavits of Support: Form I-864 and Form I-134. Form I-864 is a legally-binding contract and is required from sponsors of family-based immigrants. Form I-134 is not legally binding, but is used to show a person's willingness to help pay for a foreign national's expenses while in the United States.
Abbreviation for the American Immigration Lawyers Association, the national association of attorneys practicing immigration law.
Any person not a citizen or national of the United States; a foreign national.
Alien Registration Receipt Card
The former name of the plastic card which documents that an individual has the authority to live and work in the United States indefinitely. Also known as the "Green Card," "Permanent Resident Card," or "Form I-551."
A term used for programs established by the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 that made it possible for many previously undocumented or illegal aliens to legalize their immigration status.
Anti-Fraud Fund Fee
For each new H-1B and L-1 petition filed by an employer, a $500 "anti-fraud" fee must be submitted to the USCIS.The revenue from this fee, known as the "Fraud Prevention and Detection Fee" is given in equal shares to the Department of Homeland Security, Department of State and Department of Labor to fund efforts to determine whether applications are fraudulent and prosecute those found to have sought immigration benefits by fraud.
Application Support Centers
A USCIS-designated facility by the which takes photographs and fingerprints (called "biometrics") to carry out a FBI fingerprint background check necessary for permanent residence and/or U.S. citizenship.
A document issued by USCIS upon adjudication of an application or petition. This document is issued in the form of a Notice of Action (Form I-797).
An abbreviation for Administrative Review Board, which is the highest administrative tribunal within the Department of Labor.
An alien in the United States or at a port of entry who has been granted asylum.
A long-term lawful status given as protection for aliens who 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 travel or tourism.
Backlog Public Disclosure System ("PDS")
Known as PDS, the backlog public disclosure system is an online system of the Department of Labor's Office of Foreign Labor Certification in which basic case status information can be found for an application filed at a Backlog Elimination Center ("BEC").
An abbreviation for the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Now known as "USCIS."
An abbreviation for Backlog Elimination Center, which is a facility of the DOL's Office of Foreign Labor Certification where permanent labor certification applications filed before March 28, 2005 are processed.
A foreign national who will be eligible for an immigration benefit (temporary or permanent status) upon approval of an immigrant or nonimmigrant petition.
Biometric Passport (also known as an "E-Passport")
A biometric passport is the same as a traditional passport with the addition of a small integrated computer chip embedded in the back cover. The chip stores the same data printed on the passport's data page, including a digital image of the passport photograph which will facilitate the use of face recognition technology at ports-of-entry, the unique chip identification number and a digital signature to protect the stored data from alteration.
The process by which companies with a significant business presence in the United States can pre-qualify to transfer employees to the United States under the L-1 visa category. An approved Blanket L-1 allows a company to have the flexibility of transferring employees to the U.S. on an expedite basis without having to file a petition with the USCIS and endure lengthy processing times. All paperwork is filed directly with a U.S. Consulate abroad and is usually processed in less than a week.
A term meaning "in good faith," that is, without fraud or deceit. A "bona fide marriage" is a marriage that was not entered into merely to obtain an immigration benefit for the foreign national spouse.
Border Crossing Card (a.k.a. "BCC")
A Border Crossing Card (Form DSP-150) is a biometric, machine readable, visitor card that is issued to border country residents (such as those from Canada and Mexico) so they may enter the United States for a specific period of time. A BCC grants admission in the B-1 visitor for business or B-2 visitor for pleasure category.
Nonimmigrant visa classification for foreign nationals in transit directly through the United States.
Nonimmigrant visa classification for foreign nationals who are in transit as crewmen.
Nonimmigrant visa classification for foreign nationals traveling to the United Nations.
Nonimmigrant visa classification for foreign government official, members of immediate family, attendant, servant, or personal employee, in transit.
Cancellation of Removal
An application for relief from "removal" (formerly deportation) from the United States, available only as a defense in removal proceedings. The granting of relief cancels the removal proceedings and restores the applicant to permanent resident status, or adjusts the status of the applicant to that of permanent resident.
Cap for H-1B Visas
The limitation on the number of H-1B approvals that can be given in a fiscal year. Upon reaching the "cap," no further H-1B approvals can be made until a new fiscal year has begun. The "cap" becomes available on April 1 of each year for H-1B visas to begin work on October 1 of that year.
An abbreviation for United States Customs and Border Protection, the agency for which the Immigration Inspectors at ports of entry to the United States work. CBP has the authority to grant or deny admission in the United States as well as determine how long an individual may remain in the U.S.
Certificate of Naturalization
An official document issued by the Department of Homeland Security establishing that an individual has become a citizen of the United States through Naturalization.
Change of Status
The process of changing from one nonimmigrant status to another.
An unmarried person under the age of 21. Special rules apply to stepchildren, children of unmarried parents, adopted children and orphans.
Child Status Protection Act of 2002
Legislation which established that the filing of an Immigrant Petition freezes a child's age as of the date of filing for the length of time that the petition is pending with USCIS.
Allows persons applying for permanent residence to submit an Application for Permanent Residence (Form I-485) either along with an Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker (Form I-140) or after the I-140 is filed but before it is approved. Concurrent filing is also allowed for immediate relatives of United States citizens.
Conditional Permanent Resident ("CPR")
A foreign national granted permanent residence on a conditional basis most often times due to marriage to a U.S. citizen spouse. At the end of two years, a conditional resident must file a petition to have the condition removed, and if the petition is approved, the person becomes a permanent resident.
Conrad State 30 Program
A program which allows Health Departments in each state to recommend J-1 waivers based on clinical practice either physically situated in an HPSA or MUA, or where it can be shown that the patients being served reside in an HPSA or MUA.
U.S. Department of State official responsible for the issuance of visas and processing of immigration documents at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad.
The process of submitting an immigrant visa application at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad in order to enter the United States and be classified as a legal permanent resident.
Country of Birth
The country in which a person is born (that is, the country in which the location of birth is currently located).
Country of Chargeability
The country to which a foreign national entering under the preference system is assigned for purposes of numerical limitations. Normally, chargeability is to the country of birth of either the applicant or the applicant's spouse.
Country of Citizenship
The country to which a person owes permanent allegiance, either because of birth in that country, through the citizenship of one's parents, or through naturalization, so long as the person has not renounced or lost that citizenship.
Country of Last Residence
The last country where a foreign national resided before coming into the United States.
Country of Nationality
Normally synonymous with country of citizenship.
The California Service Center, one of the four service centers of the USCIS that handles the processing of certain immigration petitions and applications.
Curricular Practical Training ("CPT")
Abbreviated "CPT", curricular practical training is employment required for completion of a student's degree program. It is authorized during the course of study for programs such as alternate work/study programs, internships, cooperative education program and practicum experiences that are required by a course of the student's degree program. For CPT, F-1 students receive authorization from the school, not from USCIS, on the back of the student's Form I-20. J-1 students receive "academic training."
Nonimmigrant visa classification for foreign crewmembers who are on a vessel or aircraft for a "stop-over" in the United States.
Nonimmigrant visa classification for foreign crewmembers who are departing by means other than vessel of arrival.
A document denying a petition or application by the USCIS. A denial notice normally contains information about how to appeal the adverse decision, if an appeal is allowed.
Department of Homeland Security ("DHS")
The Cabinet-level department of the Executive Branch responsible for the implementation and enforcement of immigration laws and policies, among other government functions. The organizations that were part of the former Immigration and Naturalization Service ("INS") were reorganized into the separate bureaus of Customs and Border Protection ("CBP"), Immigration and Customs Enforcement ("ICE") and Citizenship and Immigration Service ("CIS") within the DHS.
Department of Labor ("DOL")
The Cabinet-level department of the Executive Branch responsible for the implementation and enforcement of immigration laws and policies relating to U.S. workforce issues, including the processing of alien employment ("labor") certification applications.
Department of State ("DOS")
The Cabinet-level department of the Executive Branch responsible for the foreign affairs of the United States, including the immigration functions of U.S. consuls (primarily, the issuance of nonimmigrant and immigrant visas). Also known as the "State Department" or "DOS."
The spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 of an alien, who are normally entitled to a "derivative" eligibility to immigration status based on their spouse or parent's status.
Designated Civil Surgeons
Doctors designated by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and the Public Health Service to provide medical examinations for adjustment of status cases.
Designated School Official ("DSO")
A person at an educational institution that is responsible for handling immigration issues and has been granted the signatory authority to process immigration paperwork on behalf of students, including the completion of Form I-20, Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status.
Dictionary of Occupational Titles ("DOT")
A publication by the U.S. Department of Labor describing occupations to the degree of job title, job description, and training and education required to perform a particular job; the DOT has been replaced by the Standard Occupational Classification ("SOC") system.
Diversity Visa Program ("DV Lottery")
Commonly referred to as the "Green Card Lottery", this annual program offers persons from countries with below-average immigration to the U.S. an opportunity to be randomly selected by a computer-generated drawing to become eligible to apply for permanent residence in the United States. A maximum of up to 50,000 Diversity Visas ("DV") are made available each year to persons meeting the eligibility requirements.
DS-2019 (formerly IAP-66)
Department of State generated form issued to all exchange visitor (J-1) applicants.
A person who is a citizen of two or more countries at the same time. Generally, a country recognizes only the person's citizenship in that country, but dual citizenship occurs when more than one country regards a person as having citizenship. The United States recognizes that dual citizenship does happen, but requires sole allegiance of all of its citizens (even those with dual citizenship).
Most applicants for nonimmigrant visas must prove that they have the intent to leave the United States after a temporary stay. "Dual intent" is the doctrine (particularly applicable to H and L visa applicants) that a temporary visa applicant may simultaneously have intent to depart the United States at the end of a temporary stay, while also having an intent to remain in the U.S. permanently, if it is legally possible to do so. Practically, "dual intent" is difficult to prove, except for H and L visa applicants, who are eligible for temporary status even when in the process of applying for adjustment of status to permanent residence.
Duration of Status ("D/S")
Length of time for which certain nonimmigrants (diplomats, students, exchange vistors and international organization employees) are allowed to remain in the United States. CBP or USCIS do not place an expiration date of status onto the I-94 of such nonimmigrants, as their authorized length of stay is governed by the rules that apply to their category. F-1 students, for example, are in lawful status while they complete a full course of study and/or up to one year of practical training, plus a 60 day "grace period" at the end of the studies. Because the I-94 for an F-1 or J-1 only indicates the expiration of stay as "D/S," a student or exchange visitor must also keep their school- or sponsor-issued Certificate of Eligiblity (Form I-20 for F-1s, Form DS-2019 for J-1s) valid.
Nonimmigrant visa classification for Treaty Traders (E-1) or Treaty Investors (E-2), or employees of companies that qualify as Traders or Investors, and their immediate families. E-1 and E-2 visa applicants must have nationality of a country that has a qualifying treaty with the United States, be the owner or an employee of a company having the same nationality, and be coming to further the business of that company.
EB-1 ("Employment Based First Preference")
The Employment Based 1st Preference Immigrant category is designated for "Priority Workers," including Aliens of Extraordinary Ability in the sciences, arts, education, business or athletics; Outstanding Professors and Researchers; and Multinational Managers and Executives. The identifying characteristics of these three categories are that no labor certification is required; a petition is filed directly with the USCIS; and, no quota backlogs are expected for most countries.
EB-2 ("Employment Based Second Preference")
The Employment Based 2nd Preference Immigrant category is designated for advanced degree professionals and aliens with exceptional ability in the sciences, arts, or business. This category includes aliens who are members of the professions holding advanced degrees (master's or higher or bachelor's plus five years of progressive experience) and who will work in positions that require advanced degrees, as well as and aliens of exceptional ability who will work in positions that require such exceptional ability. This category requires a labor certification, unless the applicant can document that a labor certification (and even a specific job offer) are not necessary because the alien's immigration is "in the national interest."
EB-3 ("Employment Based Third Preference")
The Employment Based 3rd Preference Immigrant category includes professionals, skilled workers, and unskilled workers. All workers who fall in this category require a job offer and an approved labor certification.
EB-4 ("Employment Based Fourth Preference")
The Employment Based 4th Preference Immigrant category includes certain special immigrants, particularly religious ministers and workers. This category is available to a person who, for at least two years immediately preceding the filing of an immigrant petition, has been employed as a minister or religious worker by a religious denomination that has a bona fide nonprofit religious organization in the United States. The alien must be coming to the United States to be a minister or religious worker for the organization or a related tax-exempt entity. Other categories of employment-based special immigrants include certain retired government and international organization employees and their families.
EB-5 ("Employment Based Fifth Preference")
The Employment Based 5th Preference Immigrant category is for employment creation (investors). Investors who invest a minimum of $1 million of capital ($500,000 of capital if the investment is in a "targeted employment area") and whose investment creates 10 full-time jobs for U.S. workers are eligible to immigrate. The investor need not own any specific percentage of the business, or be an officer or employee of the business, but must be engaged in some way in the direction of the business.
The Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates, the organization that verifies the adequacy of the medical training of any physician educated overseas (whether a U.S. citizen or foreign national).
A certification by the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates that international medical graduates have sufficient medical knowledge, clinical skill and English fluency to participate in an accredited residency or fellowship program in the United States.
Hardship based on unforeseen circumstances, such as currency fluctuations or natural disasters.
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 for violations or criminal penalties when there is a pattern or practice of violations.
Employment and Training Administration ("ETA")
Division of the Department of Labor that is responsible for processing applications for alien employment certification (a.k.a. "labor certifications"), which allow an employer to hire a foreign worker to work permanently (or in some cases, temporarily) in the United States.
Employment Authorization Document ("EAD")
A photo identification card issued as Form I-766, evidencing the bearer's authorization to be employed in the United States for a specific duration of time. It is granted based on the filing of USCIS Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization.
The requirement established by the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA) that U.S. employers verify the identity and eligibility of all employees (U.S. citizens and aliens) to legally work by the completion of Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification as of the date of hire, including review of documentation presented by the employee to establish identity and employment eligibility.
Entry Without Inspection ("EWI")
A foreign national who enters the United States illegally without being inspected by an immigration officer makes an entry without inspection ("EWI").
E-Passport (also known as a biometric passport)
An E-Passport is a passport with the addition of a small integrated RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) computer chip embedded in the back cover. The chip stores the same data printed on the passport's data page, including a digital image of the passport photograph, which will facilitate the use of face recognition technology at ports-of-entry. The unique chip identification number and a digital signature are designed to protect the stored data from alteration.
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. Exchange visitors are subject to a two-year home country physical presence requirement after their program if (a) their program was financed by an agency of the U.S. government or their home country government, (b) their field appears on a list of skills needed in their home country, or (c) they came to the United States to receive graduate medical education or training. 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 that have been designated by the Department of State as clearly required by the exchange visitor's country of nationality or last residence.
The process of being denied entry in the United States.
A procedure allowing immigration inspectors at ports of entry to make unreviewable determinations of who can be excluded from the United States. If removed, the foreign national is barred from re-entering the United States for at least five years.
Extraordinary ability is defined as a level of expertise indicating that the individual is one of the small percentage who have risen to the very top of a field of endeavor. It is a first preference priority worker category that enables aliens with extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business or athletics to obtain permanent resident status, with or without an offer of employment in the United States.
Nonimmigrant visa classification for foreign students.
Nonimmigrant visa classification for dependents of foreign students
Process by which U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents can sponsor certain family members from other countries for immigration benefits in the United States, including spouses, sons and daughters, and parents of U.S. citizens, and spouses and unmarried sons and daughters of permanent residents.
A government fee required for the filing of an immigration form.
First Preference, Employment Based
First Preference, Family Based (FB-1)
Immigrant visa classification for unmarried sons or daughters over 21 years of age of citizens of the United States
The United States government fiscal year, used for determining visa availability, begins October 1 and ends on the following September 30.
Foreign Credentials Evaluation
An expert evaluation which converts educational credentials from countries outside of the United States into their U.S. academic equivalent.
A person who is a citizen or national of a country other than the United States; an "alien."
Nonimmigrant Visa Application. A Department of State form that must be completed in order to apply for a nonimmigrant visa.
Application for Permanent Employment Certification. This DOL form is used for the filing of a labor certification application by a U.S. employer.
Notice of Entry of Appearance as Attorney or Representative. This form is used to provide notice that an attorney will represent an employer or a foreign national in a USCIS matter.
Biographic Information Form required by the USCIS as part of the permanent residence process.
Application for Replacement/Initial Nonimmigrant Arrival-Departure Document (I-94 card). This application is filed with the USCIS to request a replacement for an incorrect, lost, stolen or damaged I-94 card.
Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker that is filed with the USCIS for nonimmigrant workers such as E, H, L and O.
Petition for Alien Fiance. This USCIS form is used to petition to bring a fiancé or fianceé (and that person's children, if desired) to the United States for purposes of marrying.
Nonimmigrant Petition Based on Blanket L. This form is used by employers to classify employees as L-1 nonimmigrant intracompany transferees (executives, managers, or specialized knowledge professionals) under a blanket L petition.
Petition for Alien Relative. This USCIS form is used by a citizen or lawful permanent resident of the United States to establish the relationship to certain alien relatives who wish to immigrate to the United States.
Application for Travel Document. This USCIS form is used to request a travel document, reentry permit, refugee travel document or advance parole.
Affidavit of Support. This sworn document (not a binding contract) is primarily used in cases involving foreign nationals who must document that they will be financially supported and will not become a public charge to the United States.
Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker. This USCIS form is filed on behalf of an alien worker to become a permanent resident of the United States.
Form I-20, Certificate of Eligibility for F-1 Student Status
Official document confirming eligibility for F-1 Student Status as well as the duration of student status.
Application for Permanent Residence or To Adjust Status. This USCIS form is submitted by a foreign national wishing to obtain permanent resident status on the basis of an approved immigrant visa petition.
Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status. This USCIS form is used to request extensions of stay or changes from one nonimmigrant classification to another.
The Permanent Resident Card, a photo identification card issued by USCIS to document that an individual has is "lawfully admitted for permanent residence in the United States;" i.e., has the authority to live and work in the United States indefinitely. Also known as the "Green Card," pre-1999 versions are known as the "Alien Registration Receipt Card".
Application for Asylum. This USCIS form is used to apply for asylum in the United States and for withholding of removal (formerly called "withholding of deportation").
Application for Waiver of the Foreign Residence Requirement of Section 212(e) of the Immigration and Nationality Act. This USCIS application is for certain exchange workers (J-1 and J-2 visas) and their families to apply for a waiver of the requirement that they reside outside the United States for at least two years prior to returning or leaving the United States.
Medical Examination of Aliens Seeking Adjustment of Status. This USCIS form is used to determine whether an applicant for adjustment of status is admissible to the United States on medical grounds. The medical examination must be conducted by a civil surgeon who has been designated by the USCIS.
Petition to Remove the Conditions on Residence. This USCIS form is by a conditional resident who obtained status through marriage to apply to remove the conditions on his or her residence.
Application for Employment Authorization. This application is used to request an Employment Authorization Document ("EAD").
Application for Action on an Approved Application or Petition. This form is used to request a duplicate "Approval Notice" or to send notification of a previously approved petition to a U.S. Consulate.
Affidavit of Support. This USCIS sworn document is used to show that the applying immigrant has enough financial support to live without relying on U.S. government welfare.
Employment Eligibility Verification Form.
Request for Premium Processing Service. This USCIS form can be used by employers to request faster 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. The I-94 Arrival/Departure Record is a white-colored paper document made up of two parts: a top portion collected by CBP when a foreign national arrives, and the "Departure Record" portion stapled in the passport. The Departure Record portion designates the date, place of arrival, nonimmigrant status and length of time an individual is authorized to stay in the United States. The Nonimmigrant Visa Waiver Arrival/Departure Form is a similar green-colored paper document, but it is only issued to nonimmigrant visitors who are nationals of countries participating in the visa waiver program.
Application for Naturalization. The form that is filed with the USCIS to apply for U.S. citizenship.
Fourth Preference, Family Based (FB-4)
Immigrant classification to petition for siblings of United States Citizen adults.
G-1, G-2, G-3, G-4, G-5
Nonimmigrant visa classification for employees of international organizations and members of their immediate family
The informal name for the card issued as proof of registration as a legal permanent resident of the United States, the Form I-551. "Having a green card" or "getting a green card" are sometimes used informally to mean holding status as a permanent resident or applying for permanent residence, respectively.
Nonimmigrant visa classification for temporary professional workers in a specialty occupation.
Limitation on the number of H-1B visas that can be issued in a given fiscal year.
The portability rules allow an individual in H-1B status to begin work for a new H-1B employer as soon as the new employer files with USCIS a nonfrivolous petition to extend and amend the H-1B employee's status to reflect the new employer. The new employer must file a complete, new petition, and the individual must meet certain conditions.
Nonimmigrant visa classification for nurses going to work for up to three years in health professional shortage areas.
Nonimmigrant visa classification for temporary agriculture workers whose skills are needed in the United States.
Nonimmigrant visa classification that is available to "temporary workers" of an employer that has a need for services or labor that is a one-time occurrence, a seasonal need, a peak load need or an intermittent need.
Nonimmigrant visa classification for trainees.
Nonimmigrant visa classification for dependent spouses and children of H-1B, H-2 and H-3 nonimmigrants.
An abbreviation for Health Professional Shortage Area, which is an area that has shortages of primary medical care, dental or mental health providers and 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).
Granted on a case-by-case basis, humanitarian parole is an extraordinary measure, sparingly used to bring 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 for journalists, representatives of media and their immediate family
I-94 Card/Form I-94 Arrival and Departure Record
See "Form I-94"
An abbreviation for International Medical Graduates.
Immediate relatives are 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 to a foreign national who intends to live and work permanently in the United States. More specifically, an immigrant visa is a package of documentation issued by a United States Consulate overseas that allows a person to travel to the United States and seek admission as an immigrant.
An abbreviation for the Immigration and Nationality Act, the statute upon which all United States immigration law is based.
A person coming to the United States with the intent to remain permanently or for an indefinite period of time. Generally, any visitor is presumed to be an "intending immigrant" until he or she proves otherwise.
Interested Government Agency ("IGA")
A U.S. government agency that has decided, pursuant to reasons related to its official mandate, to sponsor J-1 exchange visitors for waivers of the two-year home residence requirement so that those J-1s can participate in activities furthering its official mandate. The Department of Health and Human Services, for example, might sponsor a biomedical researcher whose presence is critical to the success of an NIH grant-funded research project.
Intracompany Transferee (L-1A or L-1B)
A foreign national, employed for at least one continuous year out of the prior three by an international corporation, 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 a capacity that is primarily managerial, executive, or involves specialized knowledge.
Intracompany Transferee spouse or child (L-2)
The spouse or minor child of an L-1A or L-1B nonimmigrant. L-2 spouses, unlike most dependents, are authorized for employment in the United States.
Investment-Based Immigrants (EB-5)
Investors of $500,000 to $1 million in a U.S. business that creates jobs for at least ten U.S. workers.
An abbreviation for the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986, which contained both an "amnesty" for persons illegally in the United States since 1982, and a new requirement that employers verify the identity and employment authorization of every worker they hire (including U.S. citizens).
An abbreviation for the Internal Revenue Service, which collects taxes and administers the tax laws.
An abbreviation for Individual Taxpayer Identification Number, which is a 9-digit identification number issued by the IRS. An ITIN is used to identify a person for tax purposes if they have no authorization to work but have reportable income (e.g. interest from a U.S. mutual fund) or another tax filing requirement (e.g. being claimed as a dependent on a nonimmigrant worker's tax return). ITINs are not intended for use in reporting wage income.
Nonimmigrant visa classification 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. Categories of J-1 participation 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 for dependents of J-1 exchange visitors. Unlike most nonimmigrant dependents, J-2s are allowed to apply for employment authorization, so long as their employment income is not needed for the support of the J-1.
Nonimmigrant visa classification for a fiancé(e) of a United States Citizen; it requires the fiancé(e) to marry the U.S. citizen within 90 days and process permanent residence only through that U.S. citizen.
Nonimmigrant visa classification for the child of a K-1 fiancé(e) who will qualify to immigrate as the child of the U.S. citizen petitioner once the child's parent marries the U.S. citizen.
Nonimmigrant visa classification for the spouse of a U.S. Citizen; it requires that the spouse have filed an I-130, immediate relative immigrant petition, and then file a separate I-129F. The status is primarily useful when processing of I-130 petitions is severely backlogged.
Nonimmigrant visa classification for the child of a K-3 who will qualify to immigrate as the child of the U.S. citizen petitioner.
Nonimmigrant visa classification for an intracompany transferee who has worked abroad for one year and who is being transferred temporarily to the United States to work in an executive or managerial capacity for a parent, affiliate, subsidiary, or branch in the United States. The one year of employment abroad must have occurred during the three years immediately preceding the transfer.
Nonimmigrant visa classification for an intracompany transferee with "specialized knowledge" who has worked abroad for one year and is being transferred temporarily to the United States to work in a specialized knowledge capacity for a parent, affiliate, subsidiary, or branch in the United States. The one year of employment abroad must have occurred during the three years immediately preceding the transfer.
Nonimmigrant visa classification for dependents of L-1 intracompany transferees. Unlike most nonimmigrant dependents, L-2 spouses (but not children) are authorized for employment in the United States and may obtain an Employment Authorization Document to evidence that employment authorization.
A certification issued by the U.S. Department of Labor that there are no qualified U.S. workers able, willing, qualified and available to accept the job in question in the area of intended employment and that employment of the foreign national will not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of similarly employed U.S. workers. 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. Prior to submitting an application to the Department of Labor, the employer must advertise for the position offered and document to the satisfaction of the DOL that it cannot find a U.S. worker who meets the minimum requirements for the position.
Labor Condition Application
The Department of Labor's Form ETA-9035, Labor Condition Application, is completed as part of the H-1B nonimmigrant worker process. On it, an employer attests that the foreign national will be paid at or above the higher of the rate paid for a similar position at the employer's own offices and the prevailing rate paid by other employers in the geographic area; employment of the foreign national will not "adversely affect" the working conditions of U.S. colleagues; U.S. colleagues will be given notice of the professional's presence among them; and there is no strike or lockout at the worksite.
Lawful Permanent Residence
Authorization to live and work in the United States indefinitely; a "green card."
An abbreviation for Labor Certification.
See Labor Condition Application.
An abbreviation for Lawful Permanent Resident.
Classification as a legal permanent resident of the United States; informally, "having a green card."
Nonimmigrant visa classification for students at vocational schools or other non-academic students
Nonimmigrant visa classification for dependents of M-1 students
Manager or Executive (with respect to the L-1A visa category)
To qualify for L-1A visa classification, an employee must be a "manager or executive." A manager or executive is an employee who primarily manages the organization, or a department, subdivision, function or component of the organization; 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.
Medically Underserved Area
An area that has shortages of primary medical care, dental or mental health providers and 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). Many states and some federal government agencies will sponsor J-1 medical residents for waivers of the two-year home country residence requirement if they agree to at least three years' service in a Medically Underserved Area.
See Medically Underserved Area
Multinational Managers or Executives
First preference, priority worker employment-based immigrant category which enables intracompany transferees who were managers or executives in their overseas employment with a company to obtain permanent resident status if they are coming to the U.S. to serve in a managerial or executive capacity for a parent, subsidiary or affiliate of their overseas employer.
Multiple Entry Visa
A visa which allows the holder to apply to be admitted to the United States on multiple occasions without having to go back to a U.S. consulate for a new visa.
Nonimmigrant visa classification for a parent of a foreign national classified as a SK-3 "Special Immigrant".
Nonimmigrant visa classification of a child of a N-8, SK-1, SK-2, or SK-4 "Special Immigrant".
An abbreviation for the North American Free Trade Agreement. Among its many provisions, it created the TN nonimmigrant category for Canadian and Mexican professionals in certain specified occupations.
National Interest Waiver ("NIW")
A second preference employment-based immigrant category. An NIW is an exemption from the requirements of a job offer and of a labor certification normally imposed on a second preference immigrant, if the immigrant can establish that the exemption would be in the interest of the United States (commonly referenced as the "national interest"). Examples of the "national interest" include providing jobs to U.S. workers, improving health care, advancing scientific understanding and improving the cultural life of the United States, among many others. It generally must be shown 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 or she has already made, and will likely make in the future, substantial contributions to this field.
Nonimmigrant visa classification 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 is granted citizenship of a country. Five years after obtaining permanent residence status (three years for a foreign national married to and living with a U.S. citizen), a foreign national can apply for naturalization with the USCIS in order to become a citizen of the U.S.
Nebraska Service Center ("NSC")
One of four service centers of the USCIS which handles the processing of certain immigrant and nonimmigrant petitions and applications.
No Objection Waiver
A type of waiver of the two-year home residence requirement in which the exchange visitor's home country indicates that it does not object if the exchange visitor does not return to that country for the two-year period. Depending on the reason the exchange visitor became subject to the requirement, it may or may not be sufficient, by itself, for a waiver to be granted.
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 work. All nonimmigrant visas are issued at U.S. consulates outside the United States, and many require that a petition on the applicant's behalf have been approved by USCIS before the visa can be issued.
A term used in tax law, not immigration law, to describe a foreign national who is not a green card holder and who generally spends less than one-third of the year in the United States in any immigration status (or no status). See IRS Publication 519, Tax Guide for Aliens, for more information.
Notice of Action (Form I-797)
A computer generated form denoted as Form I-797 that is issued by USCIS as proof that a petition or application is received and in process. The Notice of Action is also issued by USCIS as a receipt for paid fees. The Notice of Action number is Form I-797. Also referred to as a Receipt Notice or Approval Notice.
Notice of Job Opportunity
A notice for public examination that is posted for a period of ten business days to show a company's intention to file a labor certification application on behalf of a foreign worker. Among other things, the posting will verify 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 the "normal" requirements and wage levels for all occupations in the United States.
Nonimmigrant visa classification 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 for essential support personnel accompanying O-1 visa holders, such as a personal trainer accompanying an O-1 athlete.
Nonimmigrant visa classification 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, which contains wages for at least four different experience levels within each occupation.
Optional Practical Training ("OPT")
Abbreviated "OPT", optional practical training is a block of 12 months of work 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. The employment may be full-time or part-time, but must be part-time if the student is still attending courses. The foreign student advisor recommends this form of practical training, but it 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.
Out of Status
The term describing the failure of a nonimmigrant to maintain a proper nonimmigrant status in the United States, or of a foreign national having entered the United States without inspection and admission. For example, a foreign national who has stayed in the United States beyond the authorized duration of time allotted has "fallen out of status."
Outstanding Researcher or Professor
First preference, priority worker employment-based immigrant category that enables researchers and professors who are "recognized internationally as outstanding in the academic field," who usually have a minimum of three years of experience in teaching and/or research in the academic field, and who meet extensive documentation requirements, to obtain permanent resident status.
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 for individual or team athletes, or entertainment groups.
Nonimmigrant visa classification for artists and entertainers in reciprocal Exchange programs.
Nonimmigrant visa classification for artists and entertainers in culturally unique programs.
Nonimmigrant visa classification for dependents of P-1, P-2, and P-3 visa holders.
Authorization to physically enter the United States for a temporary purpose without being admitted as a nonimmigrant, immigrant or U.S. citizen. It is most commonly used where there is no appropriate category for admission, but the applicant's physical presence serves a public interest. An example would be an applicant for permanent residence, who no longer qualifies for most nonimmigrant visas but who does not yet qualify for admission as an immigrant (since the permanent residence application is pending). For such applicants, a document authorizing parole upon return to the U.S. is issued in advance of departure, and so is referred to as "Advance Parole."
Foreign nationals who have been paroled into the United States. See "Parole."
A formal identification document issued by a government that identifies the holder as a national of a particular country and allows a person to gain admission into a foreign country. Passports may be Ordinary/Regular, Official, or Diplomatic.
A limitation of family-sponsored and employment-based preference visas that can be issued to citizens of any country in a fiscal year. Should the number of applicants from a country in a year exceed this limit, a backlog will be created.
PERM ("Program Electronic Review Management")
The system by which the Department of Labor accepts and decides labor certification applications, which took effect on March 28, 2005. PERM functions to expedite the processing of labor certification applications as well as nationally unify the requirements for the recruitment steps an employer must take prior to filing an application for labor certification, and to require every application to undergo pre-filing recruitment. Under this system, employers submit an application electronically or by mail to the DOL in which they detail the steps they have taken to recruit U.S. workers, and attest that they have been unable to locate a qualified U.S. worker for the position.
A foreign national who has been lawfully admitted to the United States and who has the authority to live and work in the United States on an indefinite basis; a "green card" holder.
Permanent Resident Card
Plastic card which documents 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.
The specific locations through which foreign nationals and United States citizens are admitted into the United States, such as international airports, seaports, and land border crossings.
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.
Premium Processing is a service offered by USCIS that provides faster processing of certain employment-based petitions and applications. Specifically, the USCIS will expedite a case for a fee of $1,000, which guarantees a 15 day processing time or a refund will be given.
The average wage for the occupation in the geographic area in which the employee will be employed, or the wage set by the union contract for the position.
The date which determines an individual's place in line in becoming a permanent resident of the United States. In most cases, the priority date is the filing date of the immigrant petition or labor certification application. An individual must have a "current" priority date (per the Department of State's monthly Visa Bulletin) in order to be eligible to proceed with the last step of the permanent residence process.
The time it takes for a petition or application to be processed by a government agency.
Occupations that require at least a United States bachelor degree or its equivalent as the minimum education required to carry out the duties of the position.
With respect to the EB-3 category, professional workers are defined as those who are offered and qualify for jobs that require at least a bachelor's degree level of education.
Immigrants who become dependent upon public assistance for their means of living can be deemed "public charge" by the U.S. government; such immigrants are deportable. All immigrants must establish that they are not likely to become a public charge as a condition of admission.
Public Examination File
A file which contains all of the documentation required by the DOL regulations regarding determination of prevailing and actual wages and the other attestations on the LCA for an H-1B nonimmigrant worker. It must be maintained for at least one year beyond the end of the period of employment specified on the LCA. See Labor Condition Application.
Nonimmigrant visa classification for foreign nationals employed in cultural exchange programs.
Nonimmigrant visa classification for individuals participating in the Irish Peace Process Cultural and Training Program ("Walsh Visas").
Nonimmigrant visa classification for dependents of Q-2 visa holders.
Annual numerical limitation on the number of visas available to be issued to a class or group such as people from a country, area of the world, or job classification. For example, there is a yearly quota of 40,000 employment-based immigrant visas in the first employment preference. When the immigrant visa quota is reached, a backlog or queue develops and a cut-off date for the final step of the permanent residence process is set to limit the number of applicants.
Nonimmigrant visa classification 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 for dependents of R-1 religious workers.
Form I-797, Notice of Action, that establishes that USCIS has received a petition or application and it is now in process.
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, a "visa reciprocity schedule" is listed for each country and denotes a maximum validity for each type of visa for nationals of each country, based on the same or "reciprocal" treatment given by that country given to U.S. travelers when traveling to that country on similar types of visas.
Reentry Permit (Form I-131, Application for Travel Document)
Generally valid for two years, a reentry permit is a travel document issued to permanent residents to allow for extended travel (more than one year but less than two) outside the United States and confirms that the person does not have the intent of abandoning their permanent resident status. Absence from the United States of one year or more can result in abandonment of permanent residence status if a reentry permit is not obtained.
A person fleeing persecution from their home country on the basis of race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular social group.
Refugee Travel Document
A travel document granted to refugees and/or asylees who have the intent of traveling outside of the United States and which allows for their reentry into the United States. A refugee travel document is generally valid for one year.
A hearing before an Immigration Judge to determine if a person should be removed from the United Status under the provisions of the Immigration and Naturalization Act; formerly known as deportation or exclusion.
A term used in tax law, not immigration law. Tax laws describe US citizens, foreign nationals who hold "green cards" (whether they spend time in the United States or not), and foreign nationals other than "green card" holders who generally spend more than one-third of the year in the United States in any immigration status (or no status) as "resident" taxpayers. See IRS Publication 519, Tax Guide for Aliens, for more information.
An abbreviation for the Department of Labor's pre-PERM procedure for issuing labor certifications based on an employer's request for "Reduction in Recruitment." An employer was required to document unsuccessful recruitment efforts within the six months prior to filing a labor certification application.
S-1 to S-6
Nonimmigrant visa classification for a informants with information on criminal or terrorist organizations.
Second Preference, Family Based (FB-2)
Immigrant classification to petition for spouses and children (the FB-2A classification) and unmarried sons and daughters (the FB-2B classification) of legal permanent residents.
An abbreviation for the Department of Labor's State Employment Service Agency, which issues prevailing wage determinations for the labor certification process.
An abbreviation for Student and Exchange Visitor Information System. It is an internet-based system that maintains current, "live" information on nonimmigrant students, exchange visitors and their dependents. SEVIS 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 holder only one admission into the United States.
With respect to the EB-3 category, skilled workers are defined as those who are offered and qualify for jobs that require at least two years of post-secondary education, training or experience.
An abbreviation for Standard Occupational Classification system, used by the federal government to classify all possible jobs in the United States into approximately 900 "occupational classifications" based on the job responsibilities and education and experience requirements.
Specialized Knowledge Employee (with respect to the L-1B visa category)
A "specialized knowledge" employee is one who has specialized knowledge of the 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.
Specialty Occupation (with respect to the H-1B visa category)
An occupation requiring specialized knowledge at a level normally obtained through the minimum of at least a Bachelor's (or foreign equivalent) degree in a specific field as a minimum requirement for entry into that occupation. Criteria for determining whether an occupation is 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.
More generally, to bring a foreign national to the United States through a family- or employment-based visa petition. Specifically, a "sponsor" in the family-based immigrant visa petition context also financially guarantees that the foreign national will not become a "public charge."
Classification and specific duration of time in which a nonimmigrant may stay in the United States after admission.
The State Workforce Agency of the Department of Labor that has jurisdiction over the proposed area of employment is responsible for making prevailing wage determinations.
T-1 through T-4
Nonimmigrant visa classification 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 area or a 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 within the state that qualify as targeted employment areas. Of the 10,000 visas available for EB-5 investors, 3,000 are reserved for investments in targeted employment areas.
Nonimmigrant visa classification for dependents of TN workers (also referenced as "Trade Dependent").
Temporary Protected Status ("TPS")
A classification for certain foreign nationals who have been allowed temporary refuge in the Unites States for such reasons as personal safety due to ongoing armed conflict or an environmental disaster.
The "ten-year bar" on reentry in the United States applies to foreign nationals unlawfully present in the United States for a period of one year or more who depart voluntarily. Unlawful present begins to accrue when the period of authorized stay expires on the I-94 card or after an entry to the United States without inspection.
Texas Service Center ("TSC")
One of four service centers of the USCIS which handles the processing of certain immigration petitions and applications.
Third Preference, Family Based (FB-3)
Immigrant classification to petition for married sons and daughters of citizens of the United States
The three-year bar on reentry into the United States applies to foreign nationals who have been unlawfully present in the United States for a continuous period of more than 180 days, but less than one year, and who voluntarily depart the United States.
Nonimmigrant visa classification for professionals in certain specified occupations from Canada and Mexico pursuant to the North American Free Trade Agreement ("NAFTA"). NAFTA created similar visa categories for U.S. citizen professionals going to Mexico and Canada to work.
An abbreviation for Test of English as a Foreign Language. It is 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 treaties between the United States and the foreign country of the foreign national, to carry on substantial trade or to direct the operations of an enterprise in which he/she has invested a substantial amount of capital, and the alien's spouse and unmarried minor children.
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 government, or by the government of the United States; whose skills are in short supply in their home country; or whose stay was for graduate medical education must return to their home countries and be physically present there for two years before being eligible to change nonimmigrant status in the United States or to obtain an immigrant visa or permanent residence, or H or L nonimmigrant visas based on employment.
U-1, U-2, U-3, U-4
Nonimmigrant visa classification 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 issued upon arrival (or any extension thereof). Students or exchange visitors admitted not for a specific date, but for "D/S" (Duration of Status), are not considered to accumulate unlawful presence unless USCIS or an immigration judge has issued a ruling that they have violated their status.
With respect to the EB-3 category, an unskilled worker is one in a position that require less than two years of post-secondary education, training or experience to perform the duties of the position. No more than 5000 unskilled worker visas are available each year.
An abbreviation for United States Citizen.
An abbreviation for United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. The branch of the U.S. government responsible for processing applications for immigration benefits, such as permanent residence and naturalization, of foreign nationals. Formerly part of the INS (Immigration and Naturalization Service).
An abbreviation for United States Medical Licensing Examination.
Visa classification for a spouse of a green card holder who is the principal beneficiary of a family-based petition which was filed prior to December 21, 2000, and has been pending for at least three years.
Visa classification for a child of a green card holder who is the principal beneficiary of a family-based visa petition that was filed prior to December 21, 2000, and has been pending for at least three years.
The derivative child of a V-1 or V-2.
Vermont Service Center ("VSC")
One of four service centers of the USCIS which handles the processing of certain immigration petitions and applications.
Violence Against Women Act ("VAWA")
Under the VAWA, certain battered immigrants (such as the spouses and children of United States citizens or legal permanent residents) are allowed to file for permanent residency on their own in order to seek refuge from an abuser who would otherwise be their immigrant sponsor.
A document issued by a U.S. Consulate/Embassy authorizing a person to apply for admission/entry into the United States in a particular visa classification (e.g., student (F), visitor (B), temporary worker (H)). Visas are hand-stamped or electronically generated in a foreign national's passport. There are two types of visas: nonimmigrant and immigrant.
A monthly publication by the Department of State which lists the immigrant visa preference categories and their quotas. If a foreign national has been assigned a priority date on or before the date listed in the visa bulletin, then he or she is currently eligible for the issuance of an immigrant visa or for adjustment of status to permanent residence.
Visa Waiver ("VW", "VWP")
The Visa Waiver Program ("VWP") allows foreign nationals from certain countries to be admitted to the U.S. for 90 days or less for business or pleasure without first obtaining a nonimmigrant visa. While no visitor visa is necessary, the person must be qualified for admission as either a B-1 or B-2 nonimmigrant, and must agree to depart within 90 days (no extensions or changes of status are permitted). Nationals of Andorra, Austria, Australia, Belgium, Brunei, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Monaco, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, San Marino, Singapore, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom are eligible.
A person coming to the United States for a temporary stay of limited duration. 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 receiving an order of removal with or without a preceding hearing before an immigration judge.
Waiver of the two-year home residence requirement
Waivers of the two-year return requirement imposed on certain exchange visitors are only available in four situations: 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; and based on a statement of no objection from their home country.
WB (or VWB)
Nonimmigrant visa classification for individuals entering the United States for business under the visa waiver program. (VWB or WB is usually denoted in the passport and/or on the I-94 card and stands for "visa waiver for business").
WT (or VWB)
Nonimmigrant visa classification for individuals entering the United States for tourism or travel under the visa waiver program. (VWT or WT is usually denoted in the passport and/or on the I-94 card and stands for "visa waiver for tourism").