In this blog entry, I decided to provide everyone with a list of the most common terms that come up in U.S. immigration lingo. After talking to clients, I found that many of them are confusing like Visa and Status. Some are always being discussed in their short, abbreviated form like EB1 or NIW and EAD. And, there are different government agencies working independently, at different stages, on individual aspects of a person’s immigration journey, but ultimately we reach one resolution. This is a handy reference to keep and get a quick overview.
Foreign National – An individual who is a citizen of any country other than the United States. Alien is also used.
USCIS – U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. See: www.uscis.gov
Visa – An entry document issued to a foreign national, by the U.S. Department of State, which is placed in the person’s passport.
Status- When a foreign national is legally admitted into the U.S. It means legal presence.
I-94 – This is the Arrival-Departure Record placed in the passport of most foreign visitors to the U.S.
NonImmigrant Status – For individuals who enter the U.S. on a temporary basis, i.e. for tourism, business, temporary work or to study. Examples include: H-1B, F-1, O-1, J-1, etc.
F-1 – Status for foreign full-time students for academic studies and/or language training programs. F-1 students must apply at their schools and receive a form I-20. Many are eligible for Curricular or Optional Practical Training which allows the student to work under certain conditions.
SEVIS – Exchange visitor and Student information is maintained in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS). SEVIS is an Internet-based system that maintains accurate and current information on non-immigrant students (F and M visa), exchange visitors (J visa), and their dependents (F-2, M-2, and J-2). Maintaining one’s status, and not violating any status terms, is very important.
H-1B – Professional working status requiring at minimum a Bachelor’s degree. Valid for up to 6 years.
J-1 – Exchange visitor nonimmigrant status for a student, scholar, trainee (including medical training), teacher, professor, research assistant, who is coming temporarily to the U.S. There is usually a 2 year home residency requirement, but this can be waived.
J-1 Waiver Options – Waiver of the 2 year home residency requirement
- No objection statement (NOS) issued by the government of the home country of the J visa holders.
- Exceptional Hardship: If a J-1 holder can demonstrate that his or her departure would cause exceptional hardship to his or her U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident dependents.
- Persecution: If a J-1 holder can demonstrate that he or she would be persecuted in his or her home country.
- Interested Government Agency: A waiver issued for a J-1 holder by a U.S. Federal Government agency that has determined that such person is working on a project for or of its interest and the person’s departure will be detrimental to its interest.
- Conrad Program: A waiver issued for a foreign medical graduate who has an offer of full-time employment at a health care facility in a designated health care professional shortage area or at a health care facility which serves patients from such a designated area.
O-1 – Nonimmigrant status for physicians, scientists, engineers, who have demonstrated an extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, athletics, motion picture or TV industry who have national or international recognition. Very similar requirements to the EB1 category.
Immigrant Status – For individuals who wish to reside permanently in the U.S. Other terms include: Permanent Resident, immigrant, green card holder, and resident alien, etc.
PERM – PROGRAM ELECTRONIC REVIEW MANAGEMENT (PERM). Labor Certification process filed with U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). See: http://www.foreignlaborcert.doleta.gov/ Employer sponsored & requires recruitment to find minimally qualified U.S. worker before offering job to foreign national on a permanent, full time basis.
Self Petition – Self Sponsorship of immigration case. Does not require an Employer to be a sponsor.
EB1 – Employment Based First Preference. For Extraordinary Aliens.
EB2 – Employment Based Second Preference
NIW – National Interest Waiver. EB2 Category
OR – Outstanding Professor or Researcher. EB1 Category
Form I-140 – The form that is filed with USCIS along with an EB1 or EB2 case. Immigrant visa petition
Adjustment of Status – Procedure allowing certain foreign nationals already in the United States to apply for immigrant status.
Form I-485 – The form filed with USCIS to Adjust one’s status to an Immigrant
EAD – Employment Authorization Document (EAD) or work permit; can be issued to J-1, F-1 or Adjustment of Status applicants
Priority date – Your place in line for getting a greencard. This date is based on your country of birth and preference category (i.e. EB1 or EB2). It is a waiting list system.
If you have filed a PERM/labor certification, your priority date is when your application was received by Department of Labor.
If you have filed a National Interest Waiver or Extraordinary Alien, your priority date is the date your I-140 petition was received by USCIS.
Visa Bulletin – The U.S. Department of State publishes a monthly visa bulletin. See: http://www.travel.state.gov/visa/bulletin/bulletin_5518.html Since U.S. law limits the number of immigrant visa numbers available every year, some individuals cannot get a greencard right away even if they have an approved I-40. If you your priority date is current, you can immediately file to become a permanent resident.
Reshma D. Parmar
Attorney at Law
I am an established business immigration attorney, licensed to practice immigration law nationally, with over 13 years of highly specialized experience working with scientists and researchers in a wide range of fields. I also work as Of Counsel, providing consulting to law firms on EB1 and EB2 matters.
Comments, suggestions or questions are welcome.
The statements in this blog are my observations based on my experience as an immigration attorney. I do not intend for them to serve as immigration advice to a reader to be relied upon, nor should they be understood or interpreted to form an attorney/client relationship.