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Glossary of Immigration Terms

Inside the US BEFORE USCIS

Immigrant

An alien admitted to the United States as a lawful permanent resident. Permanent residents are also commonly referred to as immigrants; however, the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) broadly defines an immigrant as any alien in the United States, except one legally admitted under specific nonimmigrant categories (INA section 101(a)(15)). An illegal alien who entered the United States without inspection, for example, would be strictly defined as an immigrant under the INA but is not a permanent resident alien. Lawful permanent residents are legally accorded the privilege of residing permanently in the United States. They may be issued immigrant visas by the Department of State overseas or adjusted to permanent resident status by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services in the United States.

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Adjustment of status

Adjustment of status is submitted to USCIS via form I-485, Application to Register PermanentResidence or Adjust Status.[20] The USCIS conducts a series of background checks (including fingerprinting for FBI criminalbackground check and name checks) and makes a decision on the application. Once the adjustment of status application isaccepted, the alien is allowed to stay in the United States even if the original period of authorized stay on the Form I-94 is expired,but he/she is not allowed to leave the country until the application is approved or rejected. If the alien has to leave the United Statesduring this time, he/she can apply for travel documents at the USCIS with form I-131, also called Advance parole.[21] If there is apotential risk that the applicant’s work permit (visa) will expire or become invalid (laid off by the employer and visa sponsor) or theapplicant wants to start working in the United States, while he/she is waiting for the decision about his/her application to changestatus, he/she can file form I-765, to get Employment Authorization Documents (also called EAD) and be able to continue or startworking legally in the United States.[22][23] In some cases, the applicant will be interviewed at a USCIS office, especially if it is amarriage-based adjustment from a K-1 visa, in which case both the husband and wife will be interviewed by the USCIS. If theapplication is approved, the alien becomes an LPR, and the actual green card is mailed to the alien’s last known mailing address.

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Inadmissibility Waivers for Crimes, Misrepresentation

An individual who is ineligible to be admitted to the United States as an immigrant or to adjust status in the United States, and certain nonimmigrant applicants who are inadmissible, must file a Form I-601, Application for Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility, to seek a waiver of certain grounds of inadmissibility.

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I-751 Petition to remove conditional residence

Form used by a conditional resident who obtained status through marriage, to request that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) remove the conditions on his or her residence.

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VAWA petitions for victims of abuse

The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) allows battered immigrants to petition for legal status in the United States without relying on abusive U.S.citizen or legal permanent resident spouses, parents or children to sponsor their Adjustment of Status (Form I-485) applications. For many immigrant victims of domestic violence, battery and extreme cruelty, the U.S.citizen or lawful permanent resident family members who would sponsor their applications will threaten to withhold legal immigration sponsorship as a tool of abuse. The purpose of the VAWA program is to allow victims the opportunity to “self-petition” or independently seek legal immigration status in the U.S. Victims of domestic violence, battery and extreme cruelty whose Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant (Form I-360) self-petitions are approved may file Adjustment of Status (Form I-485) applications directly (self-petition). Once a Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant (Form I-360) VAWA self-petition is approved, the immigrant victim may file an Adjustment of Status (Form I-485) application to become a lawful permanent resident (green card holder) directly.

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U Visas for Victims of Crime

The U nonimmigrant status (also known as the U visa) is set aside for victims of crimes who have suffered substantial mental or physical abuse as a result of the crime and who are willing to assist law enforcement and government officials in the investigation or prosecution of the criminal activity.

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Nonimmigrant / Temporary

“Temporary worker visas are for persons who want to enter the United States for employment lasting a fixed period of time, and are not considered permanent or indefinite. Each of these visas requires the prospective employer to first file a petition with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). An approved petition is required to apply for a work visa. These include:

E Treaty Traders and Investors
H-1B Specialty Occupations
H-2A Temporary Agriculture Workers
H-2B Temporary Workers
J Exchange Visitors (Interns, Trainees, Au Pairs)
L Intra-company Transferee
O Extraordinary Ability
P Artists and Entertainers
Q Cultural Exchange
R Religious Worker
TN NAFTA Professionals”

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Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)

On June 15, 2012, the Secretary of Homeland Security announced that certain people who came to the United States as children and meet several guidelines may request consideration of deferred action for a period of two years, subject to renewal. They are also eligible for work authorization. Deferred action is a use of prosecutorial discretion to defer removal action against an individual for a certain period of time. Deferred action does not provide lawful status.

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Temporary Protected Status

Temporary Protected Status (TPS) is a temporary immigration benefit that allows qualified individuals from designated countries (or parts of those countries) who are in the United States to stay here for a limited time period. A country may be designated for TPS by the Secretary of Homeland Security based on certain conditions in the country that temporarily prevent the country’s nationals from being able to return safely, or in certain circumstances, the country’s government from being able to handle their return adequately. A TPS country designation may be based on on-going armed conflict, environmental disaster, or other extraordinary and temporary conditions in the country.

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Work Permits

An informal term for what is more properly known as an Employment Authorization Document (EAD).

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Advance Parole

Advance Parole is permission for certain aliens, who do not have a valid immigrant visa, to re-enter the United States after traveling abroad. Such aliens include those who have applied to adjust their status to that of permanent resident or to change non-immigrant status. Advance parole must be approved before the applicant leaves the United States, or any residency application will in general be denied.

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Naturalization

Naturalization is the process by which U.S. citizenship is granted to a foreign citizen or national after he or she fulfills the requirements established by Congress in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).

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N-400 Application for Naturalization

“Application form to become a naturalized U.S. citizen. The correct version is available on the USCIS website at www.uscis.gov/N-400.

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N-336 Request for Hearing After Denial

Form used to request a hearing before an immigration officer on the denial of your Form N-400, Application for Naturalization which you must file within 30 calendar days of receiving the decision.

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Outside the US Consular Processing Immigrant

Immigrant Visas / Consular Processing

A pathway in the final processing of permanent resident status. This occurs when an individual who is the beneficiary of an approved immigrant petition and has an immigrant visa number immediately available may apply at a U.S. Department of State consulate abroad for an immigrant visa in order to come to the United States and be admitted as a permanent resident.

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Waivers for Unlawful Presence, Crimes, Misrepresentation

 

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I-601A Provisional Waivers

 

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I-212 Waivers of Prior Deportation

 

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Nonimmigrant

Fiancée K1 visa

The fiancé(e) K-1 nonimmigrant visa is for the foreign-citizen fiancé(e) of a United States (U.S.) citizen. The K-1 visa permits the foreign-citizen fiancé(e) to travel to the United States and marry his or her U.S. citizen sponsor within 90 days of arrival. The foreign-citizen will then apply for adjustment of status to a permanent resident (LPR) with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Because a fiancé(e) visa permits the holder to immigrate to the U.S. and marry a U.S. citizen shortly after arrival in the United States, the fiancé(e) must meet some of the requirements of an immigrant visa. Eligible children of K-1 visa applicants receive K-2 visas.

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Humanitarian parole

Humanitarian parole is used sparingly to bring someone who is otherwise inadmissible into the United States for a temporary period of time due to a compelling emergency.

USCIS may grant parole temporarily:

  • To anyone applying for admission into the United States based on urgent humanitarian reasons or if there is a significant public benefit
  • For a period of time that corresponds with the length of the emergency or humanitarian situation
  • Parolees must depart the United States before the expiration of their parole. You may submit a request for reparole, which must be approved by USCIS. Parole does not grant any immigration benefits.

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Employment Based Immigration Non immigrant Visas

Artists/Entertainers/ Athlete (O-1)

The O-1 nonimmigrant visa is for the individual who possesses extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics, or who has a demonstrated record of extraordinary achievement in the motion picture or television industry and has been recognized nationally or internationally for those achievements.

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Professional Workers (H1B)

 

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Treaty Traders/Investors (E-1/E-2)

 

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Intra-Company Transferees (L-1)

 

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Student Visas (F-1)

The F-1 Visa (Academic Student) allows you to enter the United States as a full-time student at an accredited college, university, seminary, conservatory, academic high school, elementary school, or other academic institution or in a language training program. You must be enrolled in a program or course of study that culminates in a degree, diploma, or certificate and your school must be authorized by the U.S. government to accept international students.

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Religious Workers (R-1)

An R-1 is a foreign national who is coming to the United States temporarily to be employed at least part time (average of at least 20 hours per week) by a non-profit religious organization in the United States (or an organization which is affiliated with the religious denomination in the United States) to work as a minister or in a religious vocation or occupation.

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NAFTA (TN) Visas

“The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) created special economic and trade relationships for the United States, Canada and Mexico. The TN nonimmigrant classification permits qualified Canadian and Mexican citizens to seek temporary entry into the United States to engage in business activities at a professional level.

Among the types of professionals who are eligible to seek admission as TN nonimmigrants are accountants, engineers, lawyers, pharmacists, scientists, and teachers. You may be eligible for TN nonimmigrant status, if:

You are a citizen of Canada or Mexico;
Your profession qualifies under the regulations;
The position in the United States requires a NAFTA professional;
You have a prearranged full-time or part-time job with a U.S. employer (but not self-employment – see documentation required below); and
You have the qualifications to practice in the profession in question.

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Change of Status

 

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Extension of status

 

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Immigrant Visas

Extraordinary Ability Foreign National (EB1 I-140 I-485 )

 

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Outstanding Researcher Professor or Scientist (EB2 I-140 I-485)

 

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PERM I-140 I-485

 

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Deportation/ Removal Cases In Deportation or Removal Proceedings

Detained Bond Hearings

 

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Non-Lawful Permanent Residents

  • Cancellation of Removal (EOIR-42B)
  • Asylum (I-589)
  • NACARA (I-881)
  • Removal of Conditions of Residence (I-751)
  • Adjustment of Status (I-485)

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Lawful Permanent Residents

  • Cancellation of Removal
  • 212(c) Waivers
  • Inadmissibility waivers
  • 237(a)(1)(H) waivers
  • Abandonment of Residency Proceedings
  • Readjustment
  • Top 10 Things to Know About Deportation Proceedings

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Appeals and Motions to Reopen

Motions to Reopen/ Remand/ Recalendar

A motion to reopen is a request to the original decision maker to review a decision. The motion must be based on factual grounds, such as the discovery of new evidence or changed circumstances, and “state the new facts to be provided in the reopened proceedings and be supported by affidavits or other documentary evidence.” See 8 CFR 103.5(a)(2).

If the underlying application or petition was denied due to abandonment (e.g. failure to respond timely to a request for evidence or a notice of intent to deny), a motion to reopen may be filed if it can be shown that:

The requested evidence was not material,
The required initial evidence was submitted with the application or petition,
The request for appearance or additional evidence was complied with during the allotted period, or
The request for evidence or appearance was not sent to the address of record.

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Appeals BIA

 

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Appeals Circuit Courts

 

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Stays of Removal

 

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Deferred Action Request

 

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