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Glossary of USCIS Terms

ADJUSTMENT OF STATUS: Process of changing from non-immigrant to immigrant status while in the U.S.

ARRIVAL-DEPARTURE RECORD (FORM I-94): Issued at port of entry to non-immigrants, it is approximately 3.5” X 4.24” piece of white paper usually stapled in the passport by the entry visa indicating: the non-immigrant status; expiration of stay in the U.S.; date and place of admission to the U.S.; may also indicate extensions of stay authorized; change of status; and any other INS actions affecting the visitor.

D/S DURATION OF STATUS: Given to F-1 students and J-1 exchange visitors and their dependents. Permits F-1 students to stay in U.S. until the completion date of educational objective stated on the I-20, and any approved periods of practical training plus 60 days to depart the U.S. Permits J-1 exchange visitors to complete their objectives and stay in the U.S. until date of IAP-66 plus 30 days to depart the U.S.

EXCHANGE VISITOR SKILLS LIST: Official list of countries and specific fields of knowledge and skills needed in each country. Exchange Visitors (J-1, J-2 status) with skills from countries on the Skills List are subject to the Two Year Home Country Residency Requirement.

GREEN CARD: Alien Registration Receipt Card Form I-551 (Forms I-151, AR-3 or AR-103 should have been replaced with I-551 by September 20, 1994). Issued by BCIS as evidence of lawful immigrant status. It shows the name, photo, fingerprints and signature of holder and has colored printing superimposed over a white background.

I-20 A-B (CERTIFICATE OF ELIGIBILITY FOR NON-IMMIGRANT [F-1] STUDENT STATUS): Issued by educational institutions for student's use in obtaining F-1 Student Visa and/or Status.

I-20 ID (Page 3&4) OF I-20 A-B: Issued at port of entry to F-1 students. Serves same purpose as Arrival-Departure Record.

I-94: Same as Arrival-Departure Record.

I-129: Petition for a non-Immigrant Worker (H-1B).

I-130: Petition to Classify Status of Alien Relative for Issuance of Immigrant Visa.

I-131: Application for Travel Document used to obtain Advance Parole Document.

I-140: Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker usually requiring an approved labor certification.

I-485: Application for Permanent Residence.

I-539: Application to Extend/Change Non-Immigrant Status.

I-765: Application for Employment Authorization.

I-766: Employment Authorization Card.

I-797: Notice of Action issued by BCIS to indicated approval of extension, change of status, etc.

I- 824: Application for Action on an approved application or petition.

DS-2019/Formerly IAP-66 (CERTIFICATE OF ELIGIBILITY FOR EXCHANGE VISITOR [J-1] STATUS): Issued by Exchange Visitor Sponsor for use by exchange visitor in obtaining J Visa and/or Status.

IIRAIRA'96: The Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 – which focuses primarily on reforming standards and procedures that govern illegal immigration.

IMMACT'90: The immigration Act of 1990, which became effective October 1, 1991.

IMMIGRANT: Status of immigrant. May remain indefinitely in the U.S. as a permanent resident and accept employment or may opt for U.S. citizenship through naturalization process. The terms immigrant, permanent resident and resident alien are used interchangeably.

INS: Immigration and Naturalization Service. Now Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services (BCIS).

IRCA: Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 passed into law on November 6, 1986, also known as the “Simpson-Rodino Immigration Bill.”

LABOR CERTIFICATION: A determination and certification by the U.S. Department of Labor that: (1) there are not sufficient U.S. workers (U.S. citizens, permanent residents, refugees, etc.) who are able, willing, qualified (or equally qualified in the case of aliens who are members of the teaching profession or who have exceptional ability in the sciences or arts) and available to fill positions of the kind being offered to a specific alien, and (2) the employment such aliens will not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of the U.S. workers in the U.S. similarly employed. The labor certification is filed on Application for Alien Employment Certification Form ETA 750 (Part A and Part B).

LABOR CONDITIION APPLICATION FOR H1-B NON-IMMIGRANT: A certification by the U.S Department of Labor required to be filed in support of an H-1B Visa Petition with BCIS. This certification states the employer will comply with the following statements: (1) H-1B non-immigrant will be paid a prevailing wage, (2) employment of alien will not adversely affect working conditions of workers similarly employed in area of intended employment, (3) there is not a strike, lockout or work stoppage in the course of a labor dispute at place of employment, (4) notice of this application was provided to workers at place of employment.

MESA: Michigan Employment Security Agency.

MTINA: Immigration Technical Corrections Act of 1991 correction to the IMMACT'90.

NON-IMMIGRANT STATUS: Classification issued to one who had been granted temporary admission to the U.S. for a specified purpose (e.g. F-1 for study, H-1 for working) and requires departure from the U.S. when the purpose of the temporary stay has been accomplished.

PASSPORT: Any travel document issued by competent authority showing bearer's origin, identity, and nationality, if any, which is valid for entry of the country. Passports of all non-immigrants must be kept valid for a minimum period of six months into the future unless agreements are made between governments to the contrary.

PRIORITY DATE: Is the date on which an alien is considered to have entered the waiting line for an immigrant visa number since there is a quota on the number of immigrant visas available each year. The priority date is the date on which a labor certification application is accepted by the local office of the State Employment Security Commission or I-140 filed and accepted by BCIS.

TWO YEAR HOME COUNTRY PHYSICAL PRESENCE REQUIREMENT: Exchange Visitors financed in whole or in part by the U.S. Government or their home government, or have skills listed on the USIA'a Exchange Visitor Skills List are not eligible for immigrant visa, or temporary worker (H-1B status) in the U.S. until they have resided and been physically present in their country of nationality or last permanent residence for at least two years after leaving the U.S.

VISA: Issued by the Department of State at a United States Embassy or Consulate. Refers to stamp in passport. Must be valid to ENTER the U.S.; has no bearing on length of stay in U.S.