Glossary of Terms

Accompanying-- A visa where family members travel with the applicant.

Adjust Status-- To switch from a nonimmigrant visa status or to adjust the status of a permanent resident.

Admission--Entry into the United States, authorized by a Department of Homeland Security and a Customs and Border Protection officer.

Adopted Child--A child under age 21 who is unmarried and was adopted while under the age of 16. The child has been in legal custody and lived with the adoptive parent for a minimum of two years.

Affiliated--Controlled or associated by the same authority or owner.

Agent--The applicant selects this person to receive all correspondence concering the case and pays the processing fee for the immigrant visa application. The agent can be the applicant, petitioner or another person selected by the applicant.

Alien--A foreign national who is not a United States citizen.

Applicant (Visa)--A foreign citizen applying for a nonimmigrant or immigrant U.S. visa.

Approval Notice--A U. S. Citizenship and Immigration Services immigration form, Notice of Action Form I-797, that states that USCIS has approved a petition or request for a change of status or extension of stay.

Certificate of Citizenship--Issued by the Department of Homeland Security, this document is proof that the person is either a U.S. citizen by birth or derivation.

Certificate of Naturalization--Issued by the Department of Homeland Security this document is proof that the individual has become a U.S. citizen (naturalized) after immigration to the U.S.

Change Status--Changing from a nonimmigrant visa status to another nonimmigrant visa status while an individual is in the United States is permitted for some types of visas, if approved by USCIS.

Conditional residence visa--If you have been married for less than two years when your spouse gets a green card then your spouse receives residence on a conditional basis.

Department of Homeland Security--Three organizations responsible for immigration procedures, policies, enforcement and implementation of U.S. laws. The three organizations comprise of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Department of Labor--A cabinet level unit of U.S. government that is responsible for labor issues. It decides whether specific foreign workers can work in the States.

Green card--A small card indicating that the individual is a lawful and permanent resident (immigrant) in the United States.

Immigrant visa--A visa for an individual planning to live permanently and indefinitely in the United States.

Immigration and Nationality Act (INA)--American immigration law. This Act has been amended several times over the years, but is still serves as the basic body of immigration law.

Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS)--A Department of Justice branch that formerly existed and was responsible for naturalization and immigration. INS became part of Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in early 2003.

Ineligible/Ineligibility--Certain conditions or actions prevent an individual from entering the States. These conditions and activities are referred to as ineligibilities and the applicant cannot receive a visa.

Joint Sponsor--An individual accepting the legal responsibility for supporting an immigrant with an I-864 Affidavit of Support along with the sponsor.

Labor Certification--The early stage of the process where certain foreign workers receive permission to work in the States.

Lawful Permanent Resident--An individual who immigrated legally but is not an American citizen. This individual has a green card.

Lawful Permanent Resident Alien--Lawful permanent resident.

Lose status--To live in the United States for a period longer than the Department of Homeland Security granted to the individual when entering the States. It can also refer to those failing to meet requirements or violating terms of the visa.

Maintain status--To abide by the requirements of the visa status and obeying any limitations on duration of stay.

Native--An individual born in a specific nation is a native of that country.

Naturalization--A citizen who obtains nationality of a country after birth. This person became a citizen by a legal procedure.

Nonimmigrant Visa (NIV)--A U.S. visa allows the foreign citizen to apply to enter the United States for a limited period of time and a specific purpose. This includes students, tourists and diplomats.

Orphan--A child without parents because of disappearance, death, desertion or abandonment of the parents.

Overstay--This occurs when a visitor stays longer than allowed as shown on their Arrival/Departure card.

Physical Presence--The place where an individual is actually, physically located.

Principal Applicant--The individual named in the petition.

Priority Date--This date determines an individual’s turn to apply for an immigrant visa.

Public Charge--Becoming dependent upon the government for living expenses such as food and shelter.

Re-entry Permit--The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issues this travel document to lawful permanent residents who wish to stay outside of the U.S. for more than a year but less than two years.

Refugee--A person who fears of persecution if they should return to their home country.

Returning Residents--Lawful permanent residents who wish to return to the United States after being abroad more than one year or past the expiration of their re-entry permits.

Revalidation or Renewal of a Visa--Nonimmigrant visa applicants who currently have a visa, and seek renewal or revalidation for future travel to the U.S. must apply abroad, usually in their country of residence.

Revocation of a Visa--Cancellation of a visa.

Special Immigrant--A special category of immigrant visas for those who lost their citizenship by marriage; by serving in foreign armed forces; Panama Canal immigrants; and certain foreign medical school graduates.

Sponsor--A person who fills out and submits an immigration visa petition or an individual who completes an affidavit of support for an immigrant visa applicant.

Sponsored Immigrant--An immigrant who has had an affidavit of support filed.

Spouse--A legally married husband or wife.

Temporary Worker--A foreign individual who will work in the States for a limited amount of time.

Third Country National--A person who is neither an American nor a citizen of the nation in which they are applying for a visa.

Visa--A citizen of a foreign nation, hoping to enter the United States must first get a visa, either an immigrant visa for permanent residence or a nonimmigrant visa for temporary stay.

Visa Expiration Date--Shown on the visa, this expiration date means the visa is valid or can be used from the date it’s issued until the date it expires.

Visa Validity--This usually means the visa is valid or can be used from the date it’s issued until it expires.

Visa Waiver Program--Citizens of participating nations meeting the Visa Waiver Program requirements can be allowed to enter as visitors.

Waiver of Ineligibility--Certain foreign nationals cannot receive visas because of medical, security or criminal reasons. Some are still able to apply for permission to enter the States despite their ineligibility. The applicant must apply for permission, or a waiver, to enter the United States.