Glossary of US visa & immigration terms

 

 (Pardon me, am I a nonimmigrant, an alien or an intracompany transferee?)

o you find yourself confounded by an array of bewildering and complex immigration terms, the moment you begin to think of migrating permanently or temporarily to Silicon Valley? Should you apply for the L-1 or the H-1B visa? The AssureConsulting.com comprehensive Glossary of US Visa and immigration terms clears these verbal roadblocks to the US. Here’s a lexicon of the most common immigration jargon to rescue you from the verbal labyrinthine. Cheer up and read on!

Types of Visas


H-1A: Registered nurses.


H-1B: Workers with "specialty occupations" admitted on the basis of professional education, skills, and/or equivalent experience.


H-1C: Registered nurses to work in areas with a shortage of health professionals under the Nursing Relief for Disadvantaged Areas Act of 1999.


H-2A: Temporary agricultural workers coming to the United States to perform agricultural services or labor of a temporary or seasonal nature when authorised workers are unavailable in the United States.


H-2B: Temporary non-agricultural workers coming to the United States to perform temporary services or labour if unemployed persons capable of performing the service or labour cannot be found in the US.


H-3: Aliens coming temporarily to the United States as trainees, other than to receive graduate medical education or training.


H-4: Visa for the spouse of an H-1B visa holder.

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Acquired Citizenship: Citizenship conferred at birth on children born abroad to a US citizen parent(s).

Adjustment To Immigrant Status: Procedure allowing certain aliens already in the United States to apply for immigrant status. Aliens admitted to the United States in a nonimmigrant, refugee, or parolee category may have their status changed to that of lawful permanent resident if they are eligible to receive an immigrant visa and one is immediately available. In such cases, the alien is counted as an immigrant from the date of adjustment, even though the alien may have been in the United States for an extended period of time.

Alien: Any person not a citizen or national of the United States.

Apprehension: The arrest of a removable alien by the Immigration and Naturalisation Service. Each apprehension of the same alien in a fiscal year is counted separately.

Business Nonimmigrant: An alien coming temporarily to the United States to engage in commercial transactions which do not involve gainful employment in the United States, i.e., engaged in international commerce on behalf of a foreign firm, not employed in the US labour market, and receives no salary from US sources. More on Business Nonimmigrant

Change Of Status: Immigration can change you from one lawful status to another while you remain in America without the need for you to depart to obtain a visa in your new status. Once you leave America you must usually obtain a new visa before you return.

Certificate Of Citizenship: Identity document proving US citizenship. Certificates of citizenship are issued to derivative citizens and to persons who acquired US Citizenship (see definitions for Acquired and Derivative Citizenship).

Citizenship: Citizenship can be sought only after holding permanent residence for a specific amount of time. Citizenship gives all rights to the successful applicant as are held by native-born US citizens except the right to be President of the United States.

Consular Processing: A process equivalent to adjustment of status but for applicants who are outside the US. The forms are different and the questions vary slightly.

Department Of Labour (DOL): The agency which processes Labour Condition Applications for H-1B visas and Labour Certifications for certain green cards.

Deportation: The expulsion of an alien from the United States.

Derivative Citizenship: Citizenship conveyed to children through the naturalisation of parents or, under certain circumstances, to foreign-born children adopted by US citizen parents, provided certain conditions are met.

Derivative Status: The status of the spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 of a successful green card applicant in employment-based categories. For instance, if an applicant has a first preference green card application approved, their spouse and children will receive green cards at the same time as the applicant.

Dual Intent: Certain nonimmigrants may have an intent to come to the US temporarily and at the same time may intend to remain in the US permanently. Visitors are not allowed to have such intent.

Extension Of Status: A nonimmigrant may ask immigration to extend his or her lawful status in the US.

Fiancée Of US Citizen: A nonimmigrant alien coming to the United States to conclude a valid marriage with a US citizen within ninety days after entry.

General Naturalisation Provisions: The basic requirements for naturalisation that every applicant must meet. General provisions require an applicant to be at least 18 years of age and a lawful permanent resident with five years of continuous residence in the United States, have been physically present in the country for half that period, and establish good moral character for at least that period.

Green Card: A permanent resident visa. This type of visa allows the holder to reside permanently in the US. The card is formally called a Form – L-1551.

Immigration: The visa given to someone who has successfully completed processing for permanent residence at a US Consulate. The immigration visa is usually valid for 12 days. The person must immigrate to the US within that time or the visa expires. The person becomes a permanent residence on the day he or she is admitted to the US with the immigrant Visa and later receives a Green Card for immigration.

Immigrant Intent: The intent to remain permanently in the US. All visa applicants are legally presumed to have immigration intent unless he or she proves otherwise to a US consular or immigration office.

Immigration and Naturalisation Service (INS): The INS is the government agency which arbitrates green card applications filed in the United States. The INS is a division within the US Department of Justice.

Inadmissible: An alien seeking admission at a port of entry, who does not meet the criteria in the INA for admission.

I-129: he primary application form for temporary work visas.

I-94: The admission card that most nonimmigrants are given on being admitted to the US. The date says how long can one lawfully remain in the US, unless immigration extends your stay.

Labour Condition Application: An application filed by a sponsor in connection with an H-1B non-immigration visa application. The H-1B Labour Condition Application primarily requires that the employer pays the alien what an American should be paid for the job.

Labour Certification: Requirement for US employers seeking to employ certain persons whose immigration to the United States is based on job skills or nonimmigrant temporary workers coming to perform services for which qualified authorised workers are unavailable in the United States. Labour certification is issued by the Secretary of Labour and contains attestations by US employers as to the numbers of US workers available to undertake the employment sought by an applicant, and the effect of the alien’s employment on the wages and working conditions of US workers similarly employed. Determination of labour availability in the United States is made at the time of a visa application and at the location where the applicant wishes to work.

Migrant: A person who leaves his/her country of origin to seek residence in another country.

Nationality: The country of a person’s citizenship or country in which the person is deemed a national.

Naturalisation: The conferring, by any means, of citizenship upon a person after birth.

Naturalisation Application: The form used by a lawful permanent resident to apply for US citizenship. The application is filed with the Immigration and Naturalisation Service at the Service Center with jurisdiction over the applicant’s place of residence.

Nonimmigrant: An alien who seeks temporary entry to the United States for a specific purpose. The alien must have a permanent residence abroad (for most classes of admission) and qualify for the nonimmigrant classification sought. The nonimmigrant classifications include: foreign government officials, visitors for business and for pleasure, aliens in transit through the United States, treaty traders and investors, students, international representatives, temporary workers and trainees, representatives of foreign information media, exchange visitors, fiancée of US citizens, intracompany transferees, NATO officials, religious workers, and some others. Most nonimmigrants can be accompanied or joined by spouses and unmarried minor (or dependent) children.

Nonimmigrant Visa: A visa to enter the US temporarily. Nonimmigrant temporary worker classes of admission are as follows:

  • H-1A: Registered nurses.

  • H-1B: Workers with "specialty occupations" admitted on the basis of professional education, skills, and/or equivalent experience. More on H-1B visas

  • H-1C: Registered nurses to work in areas with a shortage of health professionals under the Nursing Relief for Disadvantaged Areas Act of 1999.

  • H-2A: Temporary agricultural workers coming to the United States to perform agricultural services or labor of a temporary or seasonal nature when authorised workers are unavailable in the United States.

  • H-2B: Temporary non-agricultural workers coming to the United States to perform temporary services or labour if unemployed persons capable of performing the service or labour cannot be found in the US.

  • H-3: Aliens coming temporarily to the United States as trainees, other than to receive graduate medical education or training.

  • H-4: Visa for the spouse of an H-1B visa holder. More on H-4

  • L-1 Intracompany Transferee Visa: An alien, employed for at least one continuous year out of the last three by an international firm or corporation, who seeks to enter the United States temporarily in order to continue to work for the same employer, or a subsidiary or affiliate, in a capacity that is primarily managerial, executive, or involves specialised knowledge, and the alien’s spouse and minor unmarried children.

  • O-1, O-2, O-3: Temporary workers with extraordinary ability or achievement in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics; those entering solely for the purpose of accompanying and assisting such workers; and their spouses and children.

  • P-1, P-2, P-3, P-4: Athletes and entertainers at an internationally recognised level of performance; artists and entertainers under a reciprocal exchange program; artists and entertainers under a program that is "culturally unique"; and their spouses and children.

  • Q-1, Q-2, Q-3: Participants in international cultural exchange programs; participants in the Irish Peace Process Cultural and Training Program; and spouses and children of Irish Peace Process participants.

  • R-1, R-2: Temporary workers to perform work in religious occupations and their spouses and children.

Occupation: For an alien entering the United States or adjusting without a labour certification, occupation refers the employment held in the country of last legal residence or in the United States. For an alien with a labour certification, occupation is the employment for which certification has been issued.

Per-Country Limit: The maximum number of family-sponsored and employment-based preference visas that can be issued to citizens of any country in a fiscal year. The limits are calculated each fiscal year depending on the total number of family-sponsored and employment-based visas available. No more than 7 per cent of the visas may be issued to natives of any one independent country in a fiscal year; no more than 2 per cent may issued to any one dependency of any independent country. The per-country limit does not indicate, however, that a country is entitled to the maximum number of visas each year, just that it cannot receive more than that number.

Port Of Entry: Any location in the United States or its territories that is designated as a point of entry for aliens and US citizens. All district and files control offices are also considered ports, since they become locations of entry for aliens adjusting to immigrant status. More on Port of Entry

Pre-Inspection: Complete immigration inspection of airport passengers before departure from a foreign country. No further immigration inspection is required upon arrival in the United States other than submission of INS Form I-94 for nonimmigrant aliens.

Pre-Planned Intent And Pre-Conceived Intent: An improper and unlawful intent at the time of entry into the US to remain or to work in America in violation of your status. If a visitor or other nonimmigrant status applies shortly after entry to change status or to adjust status to permanent residence, immigration may decide that that he applicant did not reveal his true intent when he first entered the US.

Priority Date: The date an immigrant visa petition is filed with immigration or in some cases the date of a Labour Certification Application is first filed with a State Labour Department. The priority date determines your place in line in an immigrant preference category.

Service Center: There are four regional service centers (California, Nebraska, Texas and Vermont). These centers process green card applications, adjustment of status applications, and temporary visa applications. There are also many local INS offices that handle naturalisation, certain visa issues, and work authorisations.

Speciality Occupation: An applicant is eligible for an H-I B visa if the job requires a university degree in a specific field. Examples include engineering, architecture etc. If the job does not require a specific degree it is not a specialty occupation. For example plumbing will not fall in this category, as it does not require a university degree. Even if the plumber has a university degree, he is not eligible for the H-1B Visa.

Status: Your immigration condition. For example, a visitor is in visitor status. Your non-immigration status and the time you can stay in America is generally indicated on an I-94 immigration card. Staying in America beyond authorisation or doing anything not permitted by your status such as improperly working in the US as a visitor means that you violate your status. This may result in your deportation from the States.

Visa: A permit in your passport that allows you to apply for entry to the US at the US border or other immigration inspection.

Visa Application: An applicant at a US consulate for a immigration or non-immigration visa. Non-immigration visa applicants generally use Form OF156 and in some cases other supplemental forms.

Visa Waiver: The US has a mutual agreement with some countries where citizens of both countries can enter the other country without a visa for short visits. For example, UK citizens can come to the US for up to 3 months without a visa. The visa waiver cannot be extended in the US and cannot be converted to a green card even if an I-140 is approved. In such a case, the person must to return to their home country and go through consular processing.

Work Authorisation: Granted by the INS to temporary visa holders for permission to work in the United States. There can be many different situations for a work authorisation. Most common are adjustment of status applicants and individuals on F-1 student status who are undergoing their practical training.

 

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