Immigration Terms

Adjustment of Immigrant Status — United States immigration law allows aliens admitted and inspected or paroled into the United States as well as certain other aliens who are already in the U.S. to apply for immigrant status without leaving the country.

Alien — An alien is any person who is not a citizen or national of the United States.

Business Nonimmigrant — A business nonimmigrant is an alien who is coming to the United States on a temporary basis to engage in commerce on behalf of a foreign company. Business nonimmigrants do not receive a salary from any U.S. source and are not employed in the U.S. labor market.

Conditional Resident — A conditional resident is an alien who has been granted permanent resident status on a conditional basis. Immigrant investors and spouses are often conditional residents. A conditional resident must file a petition requesting removal of the set conditions within two years of receiving the approval of his or her conditional status.

Deportation — See "Removal."

Exchange Visitor — An exchange visitor is an alien who is coming to the United States on a temporary basis to participate in an exchange program approved by the U.S. Secretary of State. Approved programs must be for the purpose of teaching, instructing or lecturing, studying, observing, conducting research, consulting, demonstrating special skills or receiving special training.

Immediate Relatives — For immigration purposes, immediate relatives are certain close relatives of a United States citizen. A U.S. citizen's spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 are considered immediate relatives. The parents of a U.S. citizen who is at least 21 years old are also considered immediate relatives.

Immigrant — In general, an immigrant is a person who arrives in a country to settle there permanently; however, under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), an immigrant is defined as any alien in the United States who was not admitted under a specific nonimmigrant categories. See "Permanent Resident Alien."

Labor Certification — A labor certification is a document issued by the United States Secretary of State authorizing a U.S. employer to temporarily employ a nonimmigrant worker in the U.S. A labor certification will only be issued if the nonimmigrant worker will perform services for which a qualified worker is unavailable in the U.S. and other conditions are met.

Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) — A lawful permanent resident is any person who is not a United States citizen, who is residing in the U.S. and who was admitted to the U.S. as a lawful permanent resident. A lawful permanent resident is often called a "Permanent Resident Alien," a "Resident Alien Permit Holder" or a "Green Card Holder."

Medical Waiver — A medical waiver may be issued to permit an immigration applicant to enter, or remain in, the United States despite having a health condition rendering the applicant inadmissible. Medical waivers are decided and issued on a case by case basis.

Naturalization — Naturalization is the act of conferring United States citizenship upon a person after birth.

Nonimmigrant — A nonimmigrant is a person who seeks temporary entry to the United States for a specific purpose and who is qualified for the nonimmigrant classification sought. Examples of nonimmigrant classifications are foreign government officials, business and pleasure visitors, students, temporary workers and fiancé(e)s of U.S. citizens.

Permanent Resident — See "Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR)."

Permanent Resident Alien — A permanent resident alien is an immigrant who was admitted to the United States as a lawful permanent resident (LPR). Permanent resident aliens have the right to reside permanently in the U.S. While permanent residents are commonly referred to as immigrants (that is, a person who arrives in the U.S. to settle permanently), only immigrants admitted as lawful permanent residents are entitled to the rights and privileges of a permanent resident alien. See also "Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR)."

Principal Alien — A principal alien is an alien who applies for immigrant status and from whom another alien, such as a spouse or child, may derive lawful status under United States immigration laws or regulations.

Priority Date — The date on which an applicant's visa petition is filed is its priority date.

Removal — Removal is the expulsion of an alien from the United States. Removal may be ordered if an alien is inadmissible or has been found to have violated immigration laws.

Temporary Resident — See "Nonimmigrant."

Visa — A visa is a document issued by the United States allowing the person to whom it is issued to apply for entry to the U.S. in a certain classification. A visa only grants the right to apply for entry, not the right to physically enter the U.S.

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