Glossary of terms used by the Immigration and
Naturalization Service and the U.S. Department of State
by ABC

The following definitions supplement definitions contained in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). As used in these regulations, the term:
Accompanying or accompanied by: Not only an alien in the physical company of a principal alien but also an alien who is issued an immigrant visa within 4 months of either the date of issuance of a visa to, or the date of adjustment of status in the United States of, the principal alien, or the date on which the principal alien personally appears and registers before a consular officer abroad to confer alternate foreign state chargeability or immigrant status upon a spouse or child. An "accompanying" relative may not precede the principal alien to the United States.
Act: The Immigration and Nationality Act (or INA), as amended.

Adjacent islands:  Anguilla, Antigua, Aruba, Bahamas, Barbados, Barbuda, Bermuda, Bonaire, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Cuba, Curacao, Dominica, the Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Haiti, Jamaica, Marie-Galante, Martinique, Miquelon, Montserrat, Saba, Saint Barthelemy, Saint Christopher, Saint Eustatius, Saint Kitts-Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Maarten, Saint Martin, Saint Pierre, Saint Vincent and Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, Turks and Caicos Islands, and other British, French and Netherlands territory or possessions bordering on the Caribbean Sea.

Adjustment of status:  The process of obtaining permanent resident status in the United States without having to leave the United States.  See INA Section 245, 8 USC Section 1255, with respect to the bases of eligibility and ineligibility.  Legislation that became effective in 1997 renders this remedy unavailable to many, but not all, persons who entered the United States without inspection or who violated their status while in the United States on whose behalf an application for alien labor certification or preference petition was not filed on or before January 14, 199

Admission:   A lawful entry into the United States after inspection and authorization by an immigration officer.  It excludes a person who is paroled or permitted to land temporarily.  INSA Section 101(a)(13), 8 USC Section 1101(a).  The provision contains significant standards with respect to the readmission of lawful permanent residents.

Affidavit of support:  A sworn document given by one who will provide financial support to an alien seeking to enter the United States or adjust status.  An affidavit of support is required to be submitted to the INS by petitioners in the immediate relative and in the family preferences, or in the employment-based categories if the employer/petitioner is related to the beneficiary.  Congress now requires significant obligations on the affidavit, including the enforceability as a contract with the federal government until the visa beneficiary becomes a United States citizen or has 40 quarters of qualifying employment in the United States.  There are two affidavit of support forms -- INS Form I-864, and INS Form I-134.  The law and regulations must be consulted to learn the appropriate use and requirements for each.

Aggravated felon:  One 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.

Alien:  Any person not a citizen or national of the United States.  INA Section 101(a)(3), 8 USC Section 1101(a)(3).  This includes temporary visitors and lawful permanent residents.

Alien labor certification:  A process that, when completed, results in certification by the U.S. Department of Labor that there are not sufficient workers who are able, willing, qualified, and available at the place of proposed employment and that such employment will not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of workers in the United States similarly employed.  INA Section 212(a)(5), 8 USC Section 1182.

Aliens previously removed:  The ground of inadmissibility for persons previously removed from anywhere from five years to 20 years, depending upon the circumstances of each case.  INA Section 212(a)(9)(A), 8 USC Section 1182.

Aliens unlawfully present:   Aliens who were unlawfully present in the United States for more than 180 days but less than one year commencing on April 1, 1997, and are subject to a three-year bar to admissibility, or a 10-year bar if unlawfully present for one year or more.  INA Section 212(a)(9)(B) contains relevant standards and exceptions.

Cancellation of removal:  A discretionary remedy for permanent residents who have been permanent residents for at least five years and have resided continuously in the United States for at least seven years after having been admitted in any status and have not been convicted of an aggravated felony, or anyone physically present in the United States for a continuous period of not fewer than ten years immediately preceding the date of such application, who has been a person of good moral character during such period, has not been convicted of certain offenses, and who establishes that removal would result in exceptional and extremely unusual hardship to a United States citizen or permanent resident alien spouse, parent, or child.  INA Section 240A, 8 USC Section 1229b.

Child: An unmarried person younger than 21 who is a legitimate child, a stepchild, a child legitimated under the law of the child's residence or domicile, or under the law of the father's residence or domicile, an illegitimate child, a child adopted while younger than 16, and a child who is an orphan.

Competent officer:  As used in INA 101(a)(26), a "consular officer" as defined in INA 101(a)(9).

Conditional permanent resident status:  A status conferred upon an alien spouse or child at the time of obtaining lawful permanent residence, such status having been obtained on the basis of a marriage to a United States citizen or lawful permanent resident spouse entered into less than two years prior to obtaining said status, or as an immigrant investor.
Consular officer:  As defined in INA 101(a)(9) includes commissioned consular officers and the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Visa Services, and such other officers as the Deputy Assistant Secretary may designate for the purpose of issuing nonimmigrant and immigrant visas, but does not include a consular agent, an attach or an assistant attach.  For purposes of this regulation, the term "other officers" includes civil service visa examiners employed by the Department of State for duty at visa-issuing offices abroad, upon certification by the chief of the consular section under whose direction such examiners are employed that the examiners are qualified by knowledge and experience to perform the functions of a consular officer in the issuance or refusal of visas. The designation of visa examiners shall expire upon termination of the examiners' employment for such duty and may be terminated at any time for cause by the Deputy Assistant Secretary.  The assignment by the Department of any foreign service officer to a diplomatic or consular office abroad in a position administratively designated as requiring, solely, partially, or principally, the performance of consular functions, and the initiation of a request for a consular commission, constitutes designation of the officer as a "consular officer" within the meaning of INA 101(a)(9).

Consular processing: The process of applying for an immigrant visa at a United States consulate outside the United States for prospective immigrants who are not in the United States or who are ineligible to adjust their status in the United States.

Conviction:  A formal judgment of guilt entered by a court of competent jurisdiction.
Department:  The Department of State of the United States of America.
Dependent area:  A colony or other component or dependent area overseas from the governing foreign state, natives of which are subject to the limitation prescribed by INA 202(c).
Documentarily qualified:  The alien has reported that all the documents specified by the consular officer as sufficient to meet the requirements of INA 222(b) have been obtained, and that necessary clearance procedures of the consular office have been completed. This term shall be used only with respect to the alien's qualification to apply formally for an immigrant visa; it bears no connotation that the alien is eligible to receive a visa.

Domestic violence:  A crime of domestic violence, including stalking, or violation of a protection order, and crimes against children.  Conviction is grounds for removal of an alien from the United States.  INA Section 237(a)(2)(E), 8 USC Section 1227(a)(2)(E).

Employer sanctions:  Civil and criminal penalties imposed on U.S. employers and individuals who, subsequent to November 6, 1986, hire or refer for a fee aliens who are not authorized to work in the United States.  INA Section 274A, 8 USC Section 1324a.

Employer verification:  The procedure established by the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA) requiring U.S. employers to verify the identity and eligibility to work on INS Form I-9 of all individuals (U.S. citizens and aliens) hired or referred for a fee on or after November 7, 1986.  INA Section 274A, 8 USC Section 1324a.

Employment Authorization Document:  A work permit -- an authorization by the INS to be employed in the United States.

Entitled to immigrant classification:  The alien:
    (1) Is the beneficiary of an approved petition granting immediate relative or preference status;
    (2) Has satisfied the consular officer as to entitlement to special immigrant status under INA 101(a)(27) (A) or (B);
    (3) Has been selected by the annual selection system to apply under INA 203(c); or
    (4) Is an alien described in 40.51(c).
(With respect to alternate chargeability pursuant to INA 202(b), the term "foreign state" is not restricted to those areas to which the numerical limitation prescribed by INA 202(a) applies but includes dependent areas, as defined above.)

Extension:  An application to extend a nonimmigrant visa for an additional period of validity to enable a nonimmigrant to remain in the United States temporarily.

Immediate relative:  A husband, wife, father, mother, child, adult son, adult daughter, brother, or sister.

Immigrant:  An alien seeking entry into the United States, except for an alien who is within one of the 19 basic classes of nonimmigrant aliens.  INA Section 101(a)(15), 8 USC Section 1101(a)(15).  The term does not include nonimmigrants under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

Immigrant visa:  A document required by the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) and properly issued by a consular officer at his office outside the United States to an eligible immigrant under the provisions of the INA.  INA Section 1101(a)(16), 8 USC Section 1101(a)(16).  An immigrant visa has six-month validity.

Immigration Judge:  An official who presides over removal proceedings.  INA Section 240, 8 USC Section 1229a.

INA:  The Immigration and Nationality Act, as amended.
INS:  The Immigration and Naturalization Service.

Income:  An individual's gross income, for purposes of the individual's federal income tax liability, including a joint income tax return.

Intending immigrant:  Any beneficiary of an immigrant visa petition filed under INA Section 204, including any alien who will accompany or follow-to-join the principal beneficiary.

Intent:  For nonimmigrants, every applicant for a nonimmigrant visa who wishes to enter the United States will be presumed to be an immigrant until he or she establishes to the satisfaction of a consular officer that, at the time of application, he or she is entitled to a nonimmigrant status and has a home of residence outside the United States that he or she does not intend to abandon.

Means-tested public benefit:  Either a Federal means-tested public benefit, which is any public benefit funded in whole or in part by funds provided by the Federal Government that the Federal agency administering the Federal funds has determined to be a Federal means-tested public benefit under the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996, Public Law 104-193, or a State means-tested public benefit, which is any public benefit for which no Federal funds are provided that a State, State agency, or political subdivision of a State has determined to be a means-tested public benefit. No benefit shall be considered to be a means-tested public benefit if it is a benefit described in sections 401(b), 411(b), 422(b) or 423(d) of Public Law 104-193.

National of the United States:  A citizen of the United States, or a person who, though not a citizen of the United States, owes permanent allegiance to the United States.  INA Section 101(a)(22), 8 USC Section 1101(a)(22).
Native:  One born within the territory of a foreign state, or entitled to be charged for immigration purposes to that foreign state pursuant to section 202(b) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, as amended.

Naturalization:  The conferring of nationality of a statu upon a person after birth.  Note taht the citizenship fo a foreign state acquired at birth is not a naturalization.

NACARA:  The Nicaraguan Adjustment and Central American Relief Act, which provides for permanent residence for certain Nicaraguans and Cubans and some liberalization of standards for suspension of deportation and cancellation of removal for certain nationals of El Salvador, Guatemala, and certain countries of Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union.

Nonimmigrant:  A person coming to the United States temporarily.

Nonimmigrant visa:  A visa properly issued to an alien who is an eligible nonimmigrant as determined by a competent officer.
Not subject to numerical limitation:  The alien is entitled to immigrant status as an immediate relative within the meaning of INA 201(b)(2)(i), or as a special immigrant within the meaning of INA 101(a)(27) (A) and (B), unless specifically subject to a limitation other than under INA 201(a), (b), or (c).
Parent, father, and mother:  As defined in INA 101(b)(2), are terms which are not changed in meaning if the child becomes 21 years of age or marries.

Parole:  Authority given to the INS for anyone to come to the United States without being admitted in any status.  INA Section 212(d)(5), 8 USC Section 1182(d)(5).
Port of entry:  A port or place designated by the Commissioner of Immigration and Naturalization at which an alien may apply to INS for admission into the United States.
Principal alien:  An alien from whom another alien derives a privilege or status under the law or regulations.

Re-entry permit:  A travel document issued to a permanent resident proceeding abroad temporarily.  The alien must be physically present in the United States to file an application for a re-entry permit.  INA Section 223, 8 USC Section 1203.

Refugee:  A person unable or unwilling to return to his or her country of nationality (or, if having no nationality, where he or she last habitually resided) because of a well-founded fear of persecution on account of race, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.
Regulation:  A rule which is established under the provisions of INA 104(a) and is duly published in the Federal Register.

Removal:  A proceeding to enforce departure from the United States of persons seeking admission to the United States who are removable, or persons who have been admitted who are removable.  INA Section 240, 8 USC Section 1229a.

Residence:  The place of general abode, or the alien's primcipal, actual dwelling place in fact, without regard to intent.

Service:  Tthe Immigration and Naturalization Service.
Son or daughter:  A person who would have qualified as a "child" under INA 101(b)(1) if the person were under 21 and unmarried.

Sponsor:  A person who either is eligible to execute or has executed an affidavit of support on behalf of an alien.

Sponsored immigrant:  an immigrant on whose behalf a sponsor has executed an affidavit of support under this part, including any spouse or child who will accompany or follow-to-join the beneficiary of an immigrant visa petition filed by a sponsor.

Suspension of deportation:  A remedy in deportation proceedings (initiated before removal proceedings began under the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 [IIRAIRA] on April 1, 1997) for certain persons who have been in the United States for seven years or 10 years and who met other criteria as set forth in former INA Section 244(a).

Temporary protected status (TPS):   A status allowing residence and employment authorization to nationals of foreign states for a period of less than six months or more than 18 months, when such states have been appropriately designated by the Attorney General because of extraordinary and temporary conditions in such states.  INA Section 244A, 8 USC Section 1254a.

Treaty country:  A foreign state with which a qualifying Treaty of Friendship, Commerce, or Navigation or its equivalent exists with the United States.  A treaty country includes a foreign state that is accorded treaty visa privileges under INA Section 101(a)(15)(E) by specific legislation.

Treaty country nationality:  The nationality of an individual treaty trader or treaty investor as determined by the authorities of the foreign state of which the alien is a national.  In the case of an enterprise or organization, ownership must be traced as best as is practicable to the individuals who are ultimately its owners.

Visa:  Permission by competent federal authority to enter or remain within a country not the visa holder's country of nationality or former habitual residence.

Visa Waiver Pilot Program:  A specific program that authorizes nationals of 26 countries to come to the United States for up to 90 days as visitors for business or pleasure without first obtaining a visa.  No extension or change of visa status is permitted.

Voluntary departure:  Permission for removable aliens to leave the United States voluntarily.

Waiver:  The lifting of grounds of inadmissibility for certain aliens, either in the United States or outside the United States.

Work permit:  An Employment Authorization Document.  There are many kinds of "work permits," however.

Western Hemisphere:  North America (including Central America), South America and the islands immediately adjacent thereto including the places named in INA 101(b)(5).