Call Us Today: 202-787-1944
Contact Us Today For US Immigration Lawyer

Immigration Dictionary

An alien admitted to the United States as a lawful permanent resident. Permanent residents are also commonly referred to as immigrants; however, the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) broadly defines an immigrant as any alien in the United States, except one legally admitted under specific nonimmigrant categories (INA section 101(a)(15)). An illegal alien who entered the United States without inspection, for example, would be strictly defined as an immigrant under the INA but is not a permanent resident alien. Lawful permanent residents are legally accorded the privilege of residing permanently in the United States. They may be issued immigrant visas by the Department of State overseas or adjusted to permanent resident status by the Immigration and Naturalization Service in the United States.

Petition

A petition, for immigration purposes, is a formal request made to the INS to legally recognize a foreign national as qualified for a Green Card or a nonimmigrant visa category.

Petitioner

Petitioner is a person or business who makes the formal request that the foreign national be legally recognized as qualified for a Green Card or nonimmigrant visa category. For family based petitions, the petitioning relative must be a U.S. citizen or a Green Card holder. For employment based petitions, the petitioner must be a U.S. employer.

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.

The categories among which the family-sponsored and employment-based immigrant preference visas are distributed are:

1. The family-sponsored preferences are:
a) Unmarried sons and daughters of U.S. citizens
b) Spouses, children, and unmarried sons and daughters of permanent resident aliens
c) Married sons and daughters of U.S. citizens
d) Brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens

2. The employment-based preferences are:
a) Priority workers (persons of extraordinary ability, outstanding professors and researchers, and certain multinational executives and managers)
b) Professionals with advanced degrees or aliens with exceptional ability
c) Skilled workers, professionals (without advanced degrees), and needed unskilled workers
d) Special immigrants
e) Employment creation immigrants (investors)

People who want to become immigrants are classified into categories based on a preference system. The immediate relatives of U.S. citizens, which includes parents, spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21, do not have to wait for an immigrant visa number to become available once the visa petition filed for them is approved by the INS. The relatives in the remaining categories must wait for an immigrant visa number to become available according to the following preferences:

  • First Preference: Unmarried, adult sons and daughters of U.S. citizens. Adult means 21 years of age or older.

  • Second Preference: Spouses of lawful permanent residents, their unmarried children (under twenty-one), and the unmarried sons and daughters of lawful permanent residents.

  • Third Preference: Married sons and daughters of U.S. citizens.

  • Fourth Preference: Brothers and sisters of adult U.S. citizens.

Preference System
(Immigration Act of 1990)

The nine categories since fiscal year 1992 among which the family-sponsored and employment-based immigrant preference visas are distributed. The family-sponsored preferences are: 1) unmarried sons and daughters of US citizens; 2) spouses, children, and unmarried sons and daughters of permanent resident aliens; 3) married sons and daughters of US citizens; 4) brothers and sisters of US citizens. The employment-based preferences are: 1) priority workers (persons of extraordinary ability, outstanding professors and researchers, and certain multinational executives and managers); 2) professionals with advanced degrees or aliens with exceptional ability; 3) skilled workers, professionals (without advanced degrees), and needed unskilled workers; 4) special immigrants; and 5) employment creation immigrants (investors).

Preference System
(prior to fiscal year 1992)

The six categories among which 270,000 immigrant visa numbers were distributed each year during the period 1981-91. This preference system was amended by the Immigration Act of 1990, effective fiscal year 1992. (see Preference System - Immigration Act of 1990). The six categories were: 1) unmarried sons and daughters (over 21 years of age) of US citizens (20 percent); 2) spouses and unmarried sons and daughters of aliens lawfully admitted for permanent residence (26 percent); 3) members of the professions or persons of exceptional ability in the sciences and arts (10 percent); 4) married sons and daughters of US citizens (10 percent); 5) brothers and sisters of US citizens over 21 years of age (24 percent); and 6) needed skilled or unskilled workers (10 percent). A nonpreference category, historically open to immigrants not entitled to a visa number under one of the six preferences just listed, had no numbers available beginning in September 1978.

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.

Sharpen your immigration knowledge.

Improve your immigration success with eBooks, videos, case studies and more from our vast library.

Ebook: Filing H-1B Cap 2016 Petition
H1B 2016 Predictions from US Immigration Lawyers
H1B Cap 2016 Filing Tips and Best Practices
Download H1B Visa 2016 Timeline Template
H1B Cap 2016 Filing Tips From US Immigration Lawyer

We handled thousands of immigration matters successfully.