Immigration Dictionary

Legal Terms Explained In Plain English

A#Alien Registration Number. An A# is issued to all foreign nationals applying for a Green Card.
A-1 VisaForeign government officials, ambassadors, public ministers, career diplomats, consular officers or other high level government officials.
A-2 VisaFor other officials or employees of foreign governments in lesser ranks.
A-2 VisaAttendants, servants or other personal employees of foreign government officials.
Accompanying RelativeForeign nationals who are eligible to receive a nonimmigrant visa or a green cards may also obtain a nonimmigrant visa or Green Card for their immediate family members. Accompanying relatives may only include spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 who will be traveling with the foreign national.
Acquired CitizenshipCitizenship conferred at birth on children born abroad to a US citizen parent(s).
AdjudicateLegally judge a document or case.
Adjustment to Immigrant StatusProcedure allowing certain aliens already in the U.S. 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 as of the date of adjustment, even though the alien may have been in the United States for an extended period of time. Beginning in October 1994, section 245(i) of the INA allowed illegal residents who were eligible for immigrant status to remain in the United States and adjust to permanent resident status by applying at an INS office and paying an additional penalty fee. Section 245(i) is no longer available unless the alien is the beneficiary of a petition under section 204 of the Act or of an application for a labor certification under section 212(a)(5)(A), filed before January 15, 1998. Prior to October 1994, most illegal residents were required to leave the United States and acquire a visa abroad from the Department of State as they are again now.
Advance ParoleAdvance Parole is permission for certain aliens, who do not have a valid immigrant visa, to re-enter the United States after traveling abroad. Such aliens must be approved for Advance Parole before leaving the United States. If they have not obtained Advance Parole prior to traveling abroad, they will not be permitted to re-enter the United States upon their return.
Affidavit of Support (I-134)A promise with the Immigration and Naturalization Service to support an alien entering the United States and that the alien will not become a public charge.
Affidavit of Support (I-864)If you are bringing a relative to live permanently in the United States, you must accept legal responsibility for financially supporting this family member. You accept this responsibility and become your relative's sponsor by completing and signing a document called an Affidavit of Support. This legally enforceable responsibility lasts until your relative becomes a U.S. citizen or can be credited with 40 quarters of work (usually 10 years.)
Agricultural WorkerAs a nonimmigrant class of admission, an alien coming temporarily to the United States to perform agricultural labor or services, as defined by the Secretary of Labor.
AlienAny person not a citizen or national of the United States.
Alien Labor CertificationAlien labor certification programs are generally designed to assure that the admission of foreign workers to work in the United States on a permanent or temporary basis will not adversely affect the job opportunities, wages and working conditions of American workers.
Alternate ChargeabilityForeign national born in an ineligible country may participate in the Green Card Lottery by alternatively claiming chargeability to the country of birth of a spouse or a parent.

  • Claiming chargeability to spouse’s country of birth: You can claim your spouse's country of birth as your native country provided your spouse was born in an eligible country
  • Claiming chargeability to parent’s country of birth: You can claim your parent's country of birth as your native country provided neither of your parents was a permanent resident in the country of your birth when you were born.
Amerasian (Vietnam)Immigrant visas are issued to Amerasians under Public Law 100-202 (Act of 12/22/87), which provides for the admission of aliens born in Vietnam after January 1, 1962, and before January 1, 1976, if the alien was fathered by a U.S. citizen. Spouses, children, and parents or guardians may accompany the alien.
Amerasian ActPublic Law 97-359 (Act of 10/22/82) provides for the immigration to the United States of certain Amerasian children. In order to qualify for benefits under this law, an alien must have been born in Cambodia, Korea, Laos, Thailand, or Vietnam after December 31, 1950, and before October 22, 1982, and have been fathered by a US citizen.
ApplicantThe person who formally requests a Green Card or nonimmigrant visa is an applicant. In cases where the Green Card or Nonimmigrant visa requires the filing of a petition, unless the petition is approved, foreign nationals may not become applicants.
ApplicationApplication is a formal request made for a Green Card or a nonimmigrant visa. In most cases, an application for a Green Card or a nonimmigrant visa cannot be made unless the foreign national obtains proof that he/she is qualified through an approved petition. In certain cases, only an application is needed and the petition is not required to obtain a visa.
Application Support CentersINS Offices fingerprint applicants for immigration benefits. Some INS applications, such as the Application for Naturalization or the Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, require the INS to conduct a FBI fingerprint background check on the applicant. Most applicants that require a background check will be scheduled to appear at a specific Application Support Center (ASC) or Designated Law Enforcement Agency (DLEA) for fingerprinting.
ApprehensionThe arrest of a removable alien by the Immigration and Naturalization Service. Each apprehension of the same alien in a fiscal year is counted separately.
Approval NoticeThe INS issues an Approval Notice (Form I-797) if it approves the petition or form filed with it.
AR-11Change of Address Form to report the change of address of an alien in the United States
Arrival-Departure Record (I-94)An INS Form I-94 (Arrival-Departure Record) shows the date you arrived in the United States and the "Admitted Until" date, the date when your authorized period of stay expires.

You will receive an INS Form I-94 from an INS inspector when arriving in the United States at a land border port-of-entry or from an airline or ship representative when arriving at an air or sea port-of-entry by aircraft or ship. The form must be completed and presented to an INS inspector who may ask you questions about the purpose of your trip, how long you will be in the United States, and your residence abroad.

When you leave the country, you should give the INS Form I-94 to your airline or ship representative, or, if you are departing over a land border, give it to a Mexican or Canadian immigration inspector. An INS Form I-94 that has been approved by an INS inspector can prove that you arrived in the country legally and that you have not stayed beyond the period of stay authorized. In addition, turning in INS Form I-94 to the proper authorities when you leave the country can prove that you did not violate U.S. laws by staying in the country too long. Proof that you are willing to obey U.S. immigration laws will be very important if you again want to travel to the U.S. as an immigrant or nonimmigrant in the future.
AsyleeAn alien in the United States or at a port of entry who is found to be unable or unwilling to return to his or her country of nationality, or to seek the protection of that country because of persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution. Persecution or the fear thereof must be based on the alien's race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion. For persons with no nationality, the country of nationality is considered to be the country in which the alien last habitually resided. Asylees are eligible to adjust to lawful permanent resident status after one year of continuous presence in the United States. These immigrants are limited to 10,000 adjustments per fiscal year.
AttestationA sworn statement made by employers to the Department of Labor before being able to bring foreign workers to the U.S. for work. The attestation may include statements that the employer is making an effort to hire more U.S. citizens, or it will pay foreign workers the same wages as paid to U.S. workers.