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  • 1 - What is the USCIS?

    USCIS stands for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. It is the agency of the U.S. government principally responsible for matters dealing with aliens in the United States. USCIS has jurisdiction over immigrant petitions and adjustment applications for Family Based Immigration. Prior to March 2003, the USCIS was called the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS). For a brief period of time, it was known as the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services (BCIS). It is also sometimes just referred to as the CIS. For purposes of this website, we use the current accepted name of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

  • 2 - What is family based immigration?

    A. Family based immigration is becoming a U.S. permanent resident through certain family relations. Normally, a U.S. citizen (USC) or legal permanent resident (LPR) would file an immigration petition with the United States Citizenship and Immigrations Services (USCIS). This USC or LPR is called the “Sponsor.” The alien relative for whom the immigration petition is filed is called the “Beneficiary.”

  • 3 - Who can be a Sponsor?

    A USC or LPR can be the Sponsor of a family based immigration petition. However, the Sponsor has to meet some requirements and legal obligations. The Sponsor has to execute a legally binding affidavit of support for the Beneficiary, in which the Sponsor guarantees to maintain the standard of living of the intending immigrant at a level not lower than 125% of the national poverty level. This obligation continues until the Beneficiary has become a U.S. citizen or has worked in the United States for 40 qualifying quarters.

  • 4 - My wife and I are aliens working in the U.S. My 1-year-old son was born in the U.S. and is a U.S. citizen. Can he file an immigration petition for us now?

    No, he cannot file immigration petition for you based on your parent-child relationship until he reaches the age of 21.

  • 5 - I am a permanent resident. May I file an immigration petition on behalf of my parents?

    No, you cannot. As a lawful permanent resident, you are not eligible to petition to bring your parents to live and work permanently in the United States.

  • 6 - Who can be a Beneficiary?

    First of all, "immediate relatives" of a USC, including parents, spouses, widows, and children of a USC (children who are unmarried and under 21 years of age, and, in the case of a parent of a USC, the petitioning son or daughter being at least 21 years of age) can immigrate to the United States without being subject to any numerical restrictions. They can apply for the permanent resident status without any waiting time. The rest of the Beneficiaries are divided into several groups called Preferences. Each Preference is given a numerical quota per year to limit the number of immigrants admitted into the United States. Please see the section on Visa Bulletin for more information.

    The four Preferences are as follows:
    1st Preference: Applies to unmarried sons and daughters of U.S. citizens.
    2nd Preference: Applies to spouses and unmarried sons and daughters of lawful permanent residents.
    3rd Preference: Applies to married sons and daughters of U.S. citizens.
    4th Preference: Siblings of U.S. citizens.


  • 7 - I am a U.S. citizen. What documents must I prepare for the immigration petition for my alien spouse?

    Generally, you will need to prepare the following documents:
    1. Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, with all required documentation.
    2. A copy of your birth certificate showing your name, or your U.S. passport.
    3. If you are a citizen and were not born in the United States, a copy of either: a. your Certificate of Naturalization or Citizenship or  b. your U.S. passport.
    4. Two completed and signed G-325A's (one for you and one for your spouse).
    5. A copy of your marriage certificate.
    6. A copy of any divorce decrees, death certificates, or annulment decrees that would show that any previous marriage entered into by you or your spouse was ended legally.
    7. Two recently taken color photos of you and two of your spouse.

  • 8 - I am a lawful permanent resident and the step-parent of my wife's child. What documents must I prepare for the immigration petition for this child?

    Usually, you need to prepare the following documents:
    1. Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative.
    2. A copy of your alien registration receipt card.
    3. A copy of the child's birth certificate showing the child's name and the names of your wife.
    4. A copy of the marriage certificate showing the names of you and your wife (your marriage to your wife must take place before your stepchild's 18th birthday).
    5. A copy of any divorce decrees, death certificates, or annulment decrees that establish the termination of any previous marriages entered into by you or your wife.

  • 9 - I am a U.S. citizen and filing a Form I-130, "Petition for Alien Relative", on behalf of my son. My son will turn 21. In order to make him eligible to be an immediate relative of a USC, when must I submit the immigration petition?

    According to the "Child Status Protection Act", your son will continue to be considered a child of a USC for immigration purposes if you file the immigration petition before he turns 21. For detailed information about "Age Out" in Family-based immigration, please click here.

  • 10 - How does U.S immigration law define "Siblings"?

    A sibling is a brother, sister, stepbrother, stepsister, or adopted brother or sister. For the necessary sibling relationship to exist, each person must have been a child of at least one of the same parents. The siblings need not share the same biological parents as long as both became "children" at the appropriate time, like, before the age of 16 in cases of adoption, and before the age of 18 for stepchildren. [INA 203 (a)(4)]

  • 11 - I am a U.S. citizen, and I am over 18. May I apply for immigration for my alien sister?

    No, you cannot. As a USC, you are eligible for filing for the immigration of your sister when you are at least 21 years old.

  • 12 - I am a U.S. permanent resident. May I apply for immigration for my alien brother?

    No, as an LPR, you are not eligible to apply immigration for your alien brother.

  • 13 - How do I know if I qualify as a Beneficiary or not?

    Beneficiaries are strictly defined and one has to meet the definition of its category at the time that the application of adjustment of status is approved. Those who do not meet the definitions cannot immigrate to the United States through family based immigration. Please check the section on Employment Based Immigration to explore other possibilities.

    An "immediate relative" of a U.S. citizen is the spouse, parent, widow, or child of the U.S. citizen. Specifically, a "child" is the son or daughter of a U.S. citizen, who is unmarried and under the age of 21. An adopted child qualifies as long as the adoption was finalized before the child's 16th birthday. A stepchild qualifies as long as the marriage had occurred before the stepchild's 18th birthday. A "parent" must meet the same test as for the "child". One thing to point out is that a father-in-law or mother-in-law of a U.S. citizen are not "parents" of the U.S. citizen for immigration purposes. [INA 101 (b)(1), (b)(2), 203 (a)(4)]

  • 14 - My father is a U.S. citizen, and he is filing for permanent residence for me. I am married with one son and one daughter. Should my father file separate petitions for my wife, son and daughter?

    No. Your father need not file separate immigration petitions for your spouse, son and daughter. Your spouse and children will be included in the immigration petition your father is filing for you.

  • 15 - What does a Sponsor need to do to start the immigration process?

    There are two scenarios:
    1. If the Beneficiary is already in the United States in a non-immigrant status: If the alien is an immediate relative of a U.S. Citizen then he/she does not need to be in nonimmigrant status, but does need to have been admitted into the U.S. with a valid visa. In this case, if the Beneficiary is an immediate relative of a U.S. citizen, the U.S. Citizen sponsor can file an immigration petition (Form I-130), and the Beneficiary can file an Application for Adjustment of Status (Form I-485) at the same time. If the Beneficiary belongs to one of the four Preferences, then only the immigration petition can be filed, and the Beneficiary has to wait for the immigrant visa number to become current before he or she may apply to adjust to permanent resident. During this waiting period, the Beneficiary needs to independently maintain a valid non-immigrant status.
    2. If the beneficiary is outside the United States, the Sponsor needs to file an immigration petition and request that the USCIS notify a U.S. Consulate in the country where the Beneficiary lives. Once the immigration petition is approved, the National Visa Center of the U.S. State Department sends a forms and information package, "Packet 3", to the Sponsor. After the necessary forms are completed, the Beneficiary goes to the U.S. Consulate overseas to apply for an immigrant visa. On the day that the Beneficiary enters the United States on an immigrant visa, he or she becomes a U.S. permanent resident.

  • 16 - I got my green card one month ago based on an Employment-based Immigration, the 2nd Preference (EB-2). Two months before my I-485 was approved, I went back to my home country and married my girlfriend. How can I bring her into the U.S.?

    Since you were married before you became a lawful permanent resident, and your spouse did not physically accompany you to the U.S., your wife is eligible for “following-to-join” benefits. This means that you do not have to submit a separate Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, for your wife, and your spouse will not have to wait any extra time for a visa number to become available. You may file a Form I-824 with the USCIS and let it notify a U.S. Consulate that you are a lawful permanent resident, so that your wife can apply for an immigrant visa.

  • 17 - How can I file the I-824? What documentation must I file with the USCIS?

    You should file the I-824 at the USCIS office that took the most recent action on your case. The documents you must file with the USCIS are:

    1. A Form I-824, Application for Action on an Approved Application or Petition;

    2.  A copy of the original application or petition that was used to apply for your immigrant status;

    3. A copy of the I-797, Notice of Action, for your original application or petition;

    4. A copy of your alien registration receipt card or I-551;

    If the I-824 is approved, USCIS will notify a U.S. consulate in your spouse's country that you are a lawful permanent resident so that your spouse can apply for a following-to-join immigrant visa. Your spouse must then contact the local U.S. consulate to complete the processing.

  • 18 - What documents are typically required for a family based immigration petition?

    Depending on the relationship between the Sponsor and the Beneficiary, these are the typical documents required: certificate of naturalization, birth certificate, marriage license, adoption paper, and/or a divorce decree. In most cases, the Sponsor needs to provide employment verification and W-2 forms for recent years. Other information required of the Beneficiary includes the passport, visa, I-94, photos, and medical examination report.

  • 19 -What is a fiancé visa?

    A fiancé(e) visa is a special visa, K-1, issued to an alien who seeks to enter the United States to marry a U.S. citizen. First of all, the U.S. citizen Sponsor has to file a petition with the USCIS. Once approved, the alien fiancé will apply for a K-1 visa at a U.S. Consulate overseas. On a K-1 visa, the alien has to marry the U.S. citizen Sponsor within 90 days after the alien enters the United States. For more information about K-visas, please click here

  • 20 - I'm a U.S. citizen, and filed an I-130 for my wife who is right now in her home country. However, the I-130 is pending. Can my spouse come to the U.S. to live while the visa petition is pending?

    Yes, she can. Once you file a form I-130, your spouse is eligible to apply for a nonimmigrant K-3 Visa. This will entitle her to come to the U.S. to live and work while the visa petition is pending. However, it is not necessary for your wife to obtain a K-3 visa in order to come to the U.S. to live and work. Your wife may wait abroad for immigrant visa processing. Seeking a K-3 visa can be a method for her to come the U.S. more quickly. For more information about K-3 visas, please click here.

  • 21 - What is a Conditional Green Card?

    Conditional Green Card is issued to the Beneficiary if the Beneficiary is the spouse of the U.S. citizen Sponsor and the marriage occurred less than two years before the Beneficiary is admitted as a U.S. permanent resident. Both spouses need to jointly petition to remove the condition within 90 days before the second anniversary of the Beneficiary's admission as a permanent resident. Failure to do so will result in the termination of the Beneficiary's conditional permanent residence. [INA 216 (c)]

  • 22 - Can new immigrants work legally in the United States?

    Yes. If the Beneficiary is already in the United States and has applied for permanent residency, he or she can apply for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) at the same time. Within three to four months, long before the Beneficiary actually receives the Green Card, the Beneficiary will be able to start to work legally in any profession with an EAD. For more information about Employment Authorization Documents, please click here

  • 23 - What if the Beneficiary needs to travel overseas while waiting for the Green Card?

    Due to the huge backlog within the USCIS, it may take up to two years for the Beneficiary to receive the Green Card after the application for adjustment of status has been submitted. During this waiting period, the Beneficiary can apply for an Advance Parole, which allows him or her to travel overseas and come back to the United States without affecting the Green Card application. The only prerequisite for an Advance Parole is that the Beneficiary has maintained a legal status throughout his or her stay in the United States. For more information about Advance Parole, please click here

  • 24 - What is the current income according to the federal poverty line?

    The poverty lines vary according to the size of the family unit. In 2011, poverty lines for the contiguous 48 states and the District of Columbia consisted of the following breakdown:

    A. 1 household member: $10,890

    B. 2 household members: $14,710

    C. 3 household members: $18,530

    D. 4 household member: $22,350

    E. 5 household members: $26,170

    F. 6 household member: $29,990

    G. 7 household member: $33,810

    H. 8 household member: $37,630

    I. (For family units with more than 8 members, add $3,820 for each additional member. Please be noted that the federal poverty lines are higher for Alaska and Hawaii.) [Information according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services website]


  • 25 - Do the federal poverty guidelines change?

    Yes, the federal poverty guidelines change from year to year.

  • 26 - I am a U.S. citizen and have been out of work for several years, can I sponsor my wife in her green card application?

    Yes, but you need a co-sponsor for the financial supports.

  • 27- If I have a co-sponsor for my wife’s application, will the USCIS question my ability to support my wife who can actually support herself?

    No. It is OK as long as your co-sponsor meets the financial support requirements.

  • 28 - I have no income and cannot find a co-sponsor, what else can I do to sponsor my wife?

    A. You may provide evidence of assets that are readily available and, combining with your total household income, fulfill the income eligibility requirement. Your wife’s income may also be included as your household income if she has been living with you for the last 6 months. [8 C.F.R. 213a.2 (c)(1)]

    For example: Mr. Chang is unemployed and has no income, but he has a house with a current value of $500,000 free from any liabilities. He may submit evidence of his ownership of the house to meet the financial support requirements.

  • 29 - I have no income and have no valuable assets in the U.S., but I have a house in China with a current value of US $100,000. Does it count?

    Yes. You may count significant assets outside the U.S. as long as your assets are readily convertible to cash within 13 months. [8 C.F.R. 213a.2 (c)(2)(iii)(B)]

  • 30 - How can I determine that my assets are sufficient to meet the financial support requirements?

    The value of your assets less any offsetting liabilities must exceed by at least 5 times the poverty lines minus the sponsors household income.

    For example: Mr. Smith has an annual income of $2,490. If the federal poverty line for a 2-member household is $12,490. He must show that the value of his assets is not less than ($12,490-$2490) x 5 = $50,000.

  • 31 - What evidence of assets may I submit?

    Evidence of assets includes almost all tangible or intangible properties. Usually they are: (A) bank statements covering the last 12 months; (B) stocks, bonds, and other securities; (C) personal property; or (D) real estate.

  • 32 - I recently obtained an M.D. degree, but my current income does not meet the minimum income requirement, does my degree count?

    No. A degree alone does not count.

  • 33 - I am unemployed and have no income, but my wife’s income exceeds the federal poverty line. Can my wife sponsor herself?

    No. But your wife’s income can be included as your household income if she has been living with you for the last 6 months. Household income includes those living with the sponsor for the last 6 month if they are related to the sponsor by birth, marriage, or adoption, and persons listed as dependents on tax return.

  • 34 - Who may be a co-sponsor?

    Basically to be a co-sponsor, a person must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, 18 years of age or older, and must fulfill the domicile requirement, the affidavit requirement, and the income requirement.

  • 35 - I do not have any family relationship with the petitioner or the beneficiary, can I be a co-sponsor?

    Yes if you fulfill other requirements for a co-sponsor.

  • 36 - Can I have more than one person to be my co-sponsor?

    Yes. There is no limitation on number of co-sponsors that you can have. But if you have more than one co-sponsor, each co-sponsor must submit evidence showing that he/she meets the full 125% income requirement.

  • 37 - What is the domicile requirement?

    Domicile is a person’s principle or actual dwelling place. The U.S. immigration law requires that a co-sponsor must domicile in the U.S., i.e. must have a principle or actual dwelling place in the U.S. [INA 213 A(f)]

    For example: Mr. Taylor is a U.S. citizen. He sold his house in Detroit, Michigan and moved to Toronto, Canada last year. Mr. Taylor does not meet the domicile requirement of a co-sponsor because he has no domicile in the U.S.

  • 38 - What is the affidavit requirement?

    A co-sponsor must submit with the affidavit the following documents:

    A. Federal tax returns for most recent three years;

    B. Evidence of current employment; and

    C. Evidence that the sponsor’s income sufficient to meet the income requirement.

  • 39 - What is the income requirement for a co-sponsor?

    Basically, the co-sponsor must have an income 125% above the federal poverty lines.

  • 40 - Can a co-sponsor combine his/her assets to reach the 125% guideline?

    No. Unlike a sponsor, a co-sponsor is not allowed to combine his/her assets to meet the 125% guideline.

  • 41 - What document do I need to submit as a co-sponsor?

    As a co-sponsor, you need to submit an affidavit of support.

  • 42 - Is the affidavit of support legally enforceable?

    Yes. Under the U.S. immigration law, an affidavit of support is legally enforceable and may be enforced by the sponsored person, the state or federal government or any agency providing a means-tested public benefit.

  • 43 - I sponsored my wife but we are now divorced. Am I still bound by the Affidavit of Support after our divorce?

    Yes. Divorce alone does not nullify the affidavit.


  • Adjustment of Status

    It is a process which allows an alien to obtain lawful permanent resident status in the United States without having to go abroad. At the same time you should distinguish the definition "Adjustment of Status" from the definition "Change of Status". "Change of Status" means moving from one nonimmigrant status to another. "Adjustment of Status" is available only to certain people. Not only do you have to be eligible for a green card in the first place, you must also, in most cases, be staying in the U.S. legally, with a visa or other status.


  • Admission

    It is a permit for someone to stay legally in the United States. Admission also attaches a number of legal rights. It is also a part of the inspection for an alien arriving in the United States from abroad.

  • Affidavit of Support

    It is a financial support given by a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident to an alien who is attempting to enter the United States.

  • Aggravated Felony

    It is a broad category of crimes stressed in INA § 101(a) (43), that may be a reason to deport a person from the United States. At the same time, aliens convicted of aggravated felonies are automatically deported through expedited procedures intended to ensure that the deportation occurs as soon as the alien is released from prison after serving the sentence imposed for the underlying crime.

  • Alien

    Foreign-born persons who have not been naturalized to become U.S. citizens under federal law and the Constitution. Only "aliens" are subject to the immigration law.

  • Asylum

    A status given by the US government to a person who applies and shows that it is likely that he/she would be persecuted or harmed in the home country usually because of membership in a political or religious group. It must be a threat of harm to the applicant. General conditions in a country is not usually a good enough reason to have political asylum granted.

  • Border Crossing Card (BCC)

    It is an identity card issued by a consular officer to an alien who is resident in a foreign contiguous territory (Canada/Mexico) for the purpose of crossing the border between the United States and foreign contiguous territory. The border crossing card (BCC), or "laser visa" is a laminated, credit card-style document that serves as a visitor visa (class B1/B2) to the United States.

  • Cancellation of Removal

    It is a form of relief for a lawful permanent resident who has been lawfully admitted as a permanent residence for at least five years and has resided in the United States continuously for seven years after having been admitted in any status, who has not been convicted of an aggravated felony. It is also a discretionary remedy for non-lawful permanent resident (non-LPR) if he or she meets the following requirements. First of all you should physically present in the United States for a continuous period of at least 10 years preceding the date of the application for cancellation of removal; have been a person of good moral character during the ten-year period; have not been convicted of any crime(s) that; and establish that removal would result in exceptional and extremely unusual hardship to his or her spouse, parent, or child who is a citizen or lawful permanent resident of the United States. You will maintain "physical presence", if you are out of the United States for up to 180 days during the 10 years.

  • Consular Processing

    It is a process by which a beneficiary of an immigration petition who is outside the U.S. applies for an immigrant visa at a U.S. consulate overseas.

  • Crime Involving Moral Turpitude (CIMT or CMT)

    It is a criminal offense that shocks the consciousness of the court; CIMT is not defined in the INA or the regulations but is based on the interpretation by the courts.

  • Department of Homeland Security (DHS)

    The federal department that rules all matters relating to homeland security. The immigration functions of the department are administered by three bureaus including U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

  • Deportability

    Grounds or Acts that make a person subject to deportation.

  • Deportation

    It means the expulsion of a person or group of people from a place or country. Grounds for deportation are listed in INA §237.

  • Derivative Citizenship

    It is a citizenship conveyed to children through the naturalization of parents or, under certain circumstances, to foreign-born children adopted by U.S. citizen parents, provided certain conditions are met.

  • Diversity Lottery

    It is an annual immigration visa lottery through which nationals of countries which the U.S. considers to be under-represented through other immigration channels, can apply for legal permanent residence in the U.S. Foreign nationals can apply from outside or inside the U.S., but those who are unlawfully present in the U.S. will not be able to adjust status even if they win the lottery.

  • Dual Nationality

    It is the status of a person who is a legal citizen of two or more countries. Dual Nationality results from birth in one country, marriage to a foreign national, and foreign naturalization. Some countries do not accept Dual Nationality, and person who obtains U.S citizenship may automatically lose citizenship of that country.

  • Employment Authorization Document (EAD)

    It is Form I-688B issued by the USCIS proving the rights of foreign aliens to accept an employment in the United States. See Work Permit.

  • Exchange Visitor

    It is nonimmigrant visa category for persons to participate in exchange visitor programs in the United States with the purpose of teaching, studying, lecturing and instructing, consulting, sharing, or demonstrating specialized knowledge or skills.

  • Exclusion

    It is a process of ejecting the person seeking admission to the United States even when he or she arrives the border.

  • Expedited Removal

    It is a process authorizing the ICE to quickly remove certain inadmissible aliens from the United States.

  • Green Card

    It is a document that allows an alien to become a lawful permanent resident of the U.S. and to work legally, travel abroad and return, bring in a spouse and children and become eligible for citizenship. The official name of this card is Alien Registration Receipt Card or Permanent Resident Card (Form I-551).

  • Immigrant

    It is a person who is a legal resident of the United States.

  • Immigrant Visa

    It is a document issued by a U.S. consular officer abroad that allows you to travel to the United States and apply for admission as a legal permanent resident. See also Visa, Labor Certification, and Preference Categories.

  • Immigration Judge

    An attorney appointed by the Attorney General to act as an administrative judge within the Executive Office for Immigration Review. They are qualified to conduct specified classes of proceedings, including removal proceedings.

  • Inadmissibility

    It is a number of grounds, that make a person ineligible for lawful admission into the United States.

  • Inspection

    It is obligatory process that all persons who arrive in the country must go through at the border. A person must confirm his or her right to enter the country by presenting necessary proves. It ends in admitting, removal or parole into the country.

  • Labor Certification

    The process an employer must go through with the Department of Labor to certify that no American workers are available to fill the job for which the employer is sponsoring a foreign national for legal permanent residence.

  • Labor Condition Application

    It is an application to the Department of Labor regarding employment of H-1B professionals. The employer is required to attest:

    R. That the H-1B employment will not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of similarly-employed U.S. workers,

    S. That there is no strike, lockout, or work stoppage in the occupation for which the H-1B nonimmigrant is being hired; and

    T. That notice of the hiring of the H-1B nonimmigrant has been provided.


  • Laser Visa

    See Border Crossing Card.

  • Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR)

    It is a person who is allowed to reside indefinitely within a country despite not having citizenship.


  • Legacy INS

    It is the predecessor to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services.

  • Legalization

    It is a program that allows to receive temporary residence status to certain aliens. Synonyms are also "temporary resident status" and "amnesty"

  • Naturalization

    The process by which a foreign person becomes a U.S. citizen.

  • Nonimmigrant

    It is a person who does not have immigration intentions and can establish that he or she has a residence abroad. This category includes students, tourists, treaty investors, and foreign government officials.

  • Nonimmigrant Visa

    It is a document that allows an individual to come to the United States temporarily and for a limited purpose. The period of validity of these visa varies from 30 days up to 10 years. An alien is allowed to apply for admission at the port of entry during the period of visa's validity. You should understand that the visa's period of validity is not the same as the authorized period of temporary stay in the United States. The authorized period of temporary stay is indicated in the Form I-94, Arrival-Departure Record. It may be less or longer than the visa's period of validity.

  • Parole

    It is a permission allowing a person to physically enter the U.S. for a limited purpose, such as applying for asylum or to be placed in removal proceedings.

  • PERM

    PERM is the U.S. Department of Labor's most recent program for permanent labor certification program. It was officially promulgated on December 27, 2004. PERM rules must be followed for all labor certification applications filed on or after March 28, 2005


  • Preference Categories

    There are two separate preference categories established for permanent U.S. immigration: family-based and employment-based. The family-based categories require an immediate family relationship with a U.S. citizen or permanent resident while the employment-based categories normally require sponsorship by a U.S. employer. A person is grouped into the appropriate preference category and given an opportunity to obtain a green card under the annual quota limitation.

  • Preinspection

    It is a process of inspection of all airport passengers before they leave a foreign country during which they fill Form I-94.

  • Priority Date

    For some family-based and some employment-based applications for legal permanent residence it is the date on which the initial part of the application was filed, and which CIS refers to in determining whether or not a visa is available for the second part of the application process.

  • Quotas

    There are some restrictions on many immigration forms, they are called quotas.

  • Reduction in Recruitment (RIR)

    An alternative method of processing an application for labor certification, where the employer demonstrates sustained and unsuccessful attempts to recruit qualified U.S. workers.

  • Refugee

    Any person who is outside any country of such person's nationality or, in the case of a person having no nationality, is outside any country in which such person last habitually resided, and who is unable or unwilling to return to, and is unable or unwilling to avail himself or herself of the protection of, that country because of persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular.

  • Removal

    It is a legal proceeding through which immigration officials seek to remove a foreign national from the United States for violating an immigration law or other U.S. law. The terms "deportation" and "exclusion" were used till 1996.

  • Service Centers

    There are 5 offices which handle the filing, data entry, and adjudication of certain applications for immigration services and benefits.

  • SEVIS (Student and Exchange Visitor Information System)

    It is a networked computer system set up in the United States to track and monitor information on non-immigrant students and visitors.

  • Temporary Protected Status (TPS)

    It is temporary status that the U.S. government occasionally gives to nationals of particular countries which have undergone extraordinary physical (such as an earthquake) or other political conditions (such as civil war.) The status is valid for one year and allows the foreign national to obtain employment authorization. The U.S. determines on an annual basis whether or not to renew the status for nationals of the country. It does not generally lead to permanent status in the U.S.

  • Unlawful Presence

    It is time accumulated in the U.S. after a foreign national's authorized stay expires. This can lead to problems with the 3 year/10 year bar. The period of authorized stay is usually noted on Form I-94, or Form I-94W. Besides Canadians admitted without being issued an I-94, and F, J, and M students and exchange visitors admitted for "duration of status" do not accrue under unlawful presence until and unless an immigration judge or DHS official finds such person to be out of status.

  • US-VISIT (U.S. Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator Technology Program)

    It is a program that allows to collect information about the entry and the exit of non-U.S. citizens and to verify their identity.

  • Visa

    A stamp placed in a passport that allows their holders to enter the United States according to the conditions for that visa type. The validity period on the visa is the time period in which someone may make an entry into the United States. The validity period of the visa has no relation to the period of time someone is allowed to remain in the U.S. Visas can be designated as either immigrant visas or nonimmigrant visas.

  • Visa Waiver Program (VWP)

    The Visa Waiver Program (VWP) allows citizens of certain countries to travel to the U.S. for up to 90 days without obtaining a visa. Not all countries participate in the VWP, and not all visitors from VWP countries are eligible for the program. No extension or change of status is permitted.

  • Voluntary Departure

    It means that you agree to leave the United States, without attempting to assert any rights to stay.

  • Waivers

    There is number of grounds of admissibility which can be waived under certain circumstances. At the same time the waivers can not obtain a visa or status.

  • Withholding of Removal

    Withholding of removal is similar to asylum in that an individual must prove that there is some type of threat to his or her life or freedom. In addition, like asylum, the applicant must show that this threat is connected to one of the five statutory grounds--race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group. However, there are substantial differences between asylum and withholding of removal. Withholding of removal carries a higher burden of proof.

  • Work Permit

    Provisional status given by the government to aliens, allowing them to work legally in this country. It certifies that they have gained entry to the country legally and are allowed to work for a stated period of time. At the same time there is no single document in U.S. immigration law that is a "work permit".