of terms used by the Immigration and
Naturalization Service and the U.S. Department of State
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
officer: As used in INA 101(a)(26), a "consular
officer" as defined in INA 101(a)(9).
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).
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.
A formal judgment of guilt entered by a court of competent jurisdiction.
Department: The Department of State of the United States of
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.
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).
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.
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.
Authorization Document: A work permit -- an authorization by the
INS to be employed in the United States.
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.)
An application to extend a nonimmigrant visa for an additional period of
validity to enable a nonimmigrant to remain in the United States
relative: A husband, wife, father, mother, child, adult son,
adult daughter, brother, or sister.
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).
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.
Judge: An official who presides over removal proceedings.
INA Section 240, 8 USC Section 1229a.
Immigration and Nationality Act, as amended.
INS: The Immigration and Naturalization Service.
individual's gross income, for purposes of the individual's federal income
tax liability, including a joint income tax return.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
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.
A person coming to the United States temporarily.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
Regulation: A rule which is established under the provisions
of INA 104(a) and is duly published in the Federal Register.
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
The place of general abode, or the alien's primcipal, actual dwelling
place in fact, without regard to intent.
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
A person who either is eligible to execute or has executed an affidavit of
support on behalf of an alien.
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.
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
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
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
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.
Permission by competent federal authority to enter or remain within a
country not the visa holder's country of nationality or former habitual
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.
Permission for removable aliens to leave the United States voluntarily.
The lifting of grounds of inadmissibility for certain aliens, either in
the United States or outside the United States.
An Employment Authorization Document. There are many kinds of
"work permits," however.
North America (including Central America), South America and the islands
immediately adjacent thereto including the places named in INA 101(b)(5).