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Glossary of Immigration Terms
Term
Definition
Adjustment of Status The process of applying for legal permanent residence from within the United States.
Alien An individual who is not a U.S. citizen or U.S. national.
Authorized Stay The amount of time a U.S. Customs & Border Protection officer allows a foreign national to remain in the U.S. The date is stamped on the foreign national’s passport.
B1/B2 visa The most common type of non-immigrant (temporary) visa to the United States for tourism or certain business activities.
Change of Status The process by which a foreign national applies to change from one non-immigrant status to another non-immigrant status.
Department of Homeland Security The federal department that administers all matters relating to homeland security.
Department of State Operates consular offices abroad which make decisions about non-immigrant visas and immigrant visas which are processed through U.S. embassies or consulates. 
Duration of Status (D/S) Indication on passports (and previously Form I-94) for certain types of non-immigrants including students (such as F-1) and certain individuals with work visas (such as I visa).  The foreign national can legally remain in the U.S. as long as she or he maintains the status which authorized the visa issuance.
E-1/E-2 visa A type of non-immigrant visa for investors or employees of companies registered as Treaty Traders or Treaty Investors (i.e. those which undertake substantial trade with, or have made substantial investment in, the U.S.).
E-3 visa A type of non-immigrant visa for nationals of Australia.  The Australian national must be coming to the United States solely to perform services in a specialty occupation.
Employment Authorization Document The card issued by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services allowing a foreign national to work legally in the U.S.  Also commonly known as “work permit.”
F-1 visa A type of non-immigrant visa for foreign nationals to pursue education (academic studies and/or language training programs) in the U.S.
Foreign Labor Certification Application The process a U.S. employer must go through with the U.S. Department of Labor to certify that no American workers are willing, available, interested or qualified to fill the job for which the employer is sponsoring a foreign national for lawful permanent residence.  http://www.foreignlaborcert.doleta.gov/perm.cfm
Form I-129 The form for petitioners filing on behalf of an alien to come to the U.S. temporarily to perform services or labor, or to receive training, as an H-1B, H-1C, H-2A, H-2B, H-3, L-1, O-1, O-2, P-1, P-1S, P-2, P-2S, P-3, P-3S, Q-1 or R-1 nonimmigrant worker. Petitioners may also use this form to request an extension of stay in or change of status to E-1, E-2, E-3, H-1B1 or TN, or one of the above classifications for a foreign worker.  http://www.uscis.gov/files/form/i-129.pdf
Form I-130 The form used by a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident to establish the relationship to certain alien relatives who wish to immigrate to the U.S.  http://www.uscis.gov/files/form/i-130.pdf
Form I-140 The form used to petition a foreign national worker to become a lawful permanent resident in the United States.  http://www.uscis.gov/files/form/i-140.pdf
Form I-485 The form used to adjust status to that of a lawful permanent resident.  http://www.uscis.gov/files/form/i-485.pdf
Green Card Commonly known term for “an alien registration card” or Form I-551. It is evidence that its holder has lawful permanent resident status.
H-1B visa A type of non-immigrant visa for foreign nationals to come to the U.S. to work in a specialty occupation. To qualify, the position must require at least a bachelor’s or higher degree (or equivalent) in the specific specialty for which employment authorization is being sought. The foreign national can be authorized to remain in the U.S. and work for three years, and is renewable for a total of six years.
I visa A type of non-immigrant visa for representatives of the foreign media traveling on assignment to the U.S.
Immediate Relative Spouse of a U.S. citizen, minor child of a U.S. citizen, or parents of  U.S. citizen ( adult children 21 years or older)
Immigrant Foreign national who has been granted permission to remain in the United States permanently as a lawful permanent resident.
Immigrant Intent The concept under U.S. immigration law that foreign nationals generally intend to remain in the United States permanently even if they are applying for a visa or entering the U.S. in a temporary, non-immigrant status.
J-1 visa A type of non-immigrant visa for individuals approved to participate in work and/or study based exchange visitor programs.
L-1 visa A type of non-immigrant visa that enables a U.S. employer to transfer an executive or manager from one of its affiliated foreign offices to one of its offices in the United States.  This visa classification also enables a foreign company which does not yet have an affiliated U.S. office to send an executive or manager to the United States with the purpose of establishing one.
Lawful permanent resident Status granting foreign nationals the right to reside in the U.S. permanently
North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) A treaty between Canada, Mexico, and the United States that has been in effect since 1 January 1994. The agreement was designed to increase trade among the three nations by reducing or eliminating restrictions on commerce.
Naturalization The process by which a foreign national applies for and obtains U.S. citizenship.   One must be a lawful permanent resident to qualify for a certain amount of time.  There are exceptions.
Non-immigrant visa A temporary visa, such as a tourist (B-1/B-2), student (H-1B), or skilled worker (H-1B) visa to allow a foreign national to come to the United States for a limited period of time and for a specific purpose. 
Optional Practical Training Temporary employment authorization that allows F-1 students an opportunity to apply knowledge gained in the classroom to a practical work environment off-campus.
Port of Entry The airport, seaport, or land border crossing through which a foreign national enters the U.S.
Specialty Occupation An occupation requires theoretical and practical application of a body of knowledge in professional fields and at least the attainment of a bachelor's degree, or its equivalent, as a minimum for entry into the occupation in the United States.
TN Visa A type of non-immigrant visa that allows citizens of Canada and Mexico, as NAFTA professionals, to work in the United States in prearranged business activities for U.S. or foreign employers. 
U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (U.S.C.I.S.) The division of the Department of Homeland Security which handles applications for visas, legal permanent residence, asylum, employment authorization, and naturalization.  http://www.uscis.gov/portal/site/uscis
U.S. Customs & Border Protection (U.S.C.B.P.) The division of the Department of Homeland Security which patrols the U.S. borders.  http://www.cbp.gov/
Visa A foreign national who seeks to enter the U.S. generally must first obtain a U.S. visa, which is placed in the traveler’s passport, a travel document issued by the traveler’s country of citizenship. Legal document issued by a US Embassy or Consulate that permits its holder to seek entry into the United States on either a temporary or a permanent basis. 
Visa bulletin The U.S. Department of State publishes a monthly report of visa availability referred to as the “Visa Bulletin.” The monthly Visa Bulletin serves as a guide for issuing visas at U.S. consulates and embassies and as a guide for foreign nationals to apply for adjustment of status.  http://travel.state.gov/visa/bulletin/bulletin_1360.html

The above information was prepared and provided by the Law Offices of Friedberg & Trombi. If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact them at 213-385-1888.

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