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Glossary of Immigration Terms May Help You Better Understand the Process

As with any complicated topic, immigration practitioners tend to speak in a short-hand that is understood by other practitioners, but sometimes leaves our clients feeling a little confused.  If you are consulting with an immigration practitioner and feel like you are not fully understanding what they are saying, you should never feel uncomfortable asking them to slow down and explain a concept in greater detail.  This is YOUR process and YOUR future. Following is a glossary of  immigration terms, by no means comprehensive, that explains some of the “jargon” used by immigration lawyers.
If you are looking for an immigration attorney to assist with your needs, please contact Berardi Immigration Law today for a consultation.

Alien/Foreign National An individual, living in the United States, who is not a U.S. citizen.
Amendment A petition or application filed to communicate changes to the government. May be filed with or without a request for extension.
CBP Customs and Border Protection – U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is a federal law enforcement agency of the United States Department of Homeland Security charged with regulating and facilitating international trade, collecting import duties, and enforcing U.S. regulations, including trade, customs, and immigration.
CIR Comprehensive Immigration Reform
CIS United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is a component of the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS). It performs many administrative functions formerly carried out by the former United States Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), which was part of the Department of Justice.
DHS The United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is a cabinet department of the United States federal government, created in response to the September 11th attacks, and with the primary responsibilities of protecting the United States of America and U.S. territories (including Protectorates) from and responding to terrorist attacks, manmade accidents, and natural disasters.
DOS The United States Department of State (DoS) often referred to as the State Department, is the United States federal executive department responsible for international relations of the United States, equivalent to the foreign ministries of other countries.
EAD Employment Authorization Document (Card)
E-Verify E-Verify is an Internet-based system that allows businesses to determine the eligibility of their employees to work in the United States.
Extension A petition or application filed without changes after a status has already been granted but is due to expire.
EB-1 through EB-5 Employment-based “preference” categories – defines requirements for filing and how a green card petition is categorized and prioritized.
I-797 A USCIS notice sent to a customer in order to communicate information related to case status and processing such as: receipt, rejection, transfer, re-open, appointment scheduling, and approval.
I-9 Form I-9 is used for verifying the identity and employment authorization of individuals hired for employment in the United States.
I-94 Card A card previously given to all non-immigrants when they are granted entry to the United States. It serves as evidence that the person has entered the country legally. It also includes a stamp with a date indicating how long that person may stay here.  This card is being phased out. Electronic versions of the card may be obtained at
ICE U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is a United States federal law enforcement agency under the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS), responsible for identifying, investigating, and dismantling vulnerabilities regarding the nation’s border, economic, transportation, and infrastructure security.
Immigrant An individual seeking to live in the United States on a permanent basis; green card holder.
KCC Kentucky Counselor Center is a centralized processing facility for petition-based nonimmigrant visa programs and for the Diversity Visa program (also known as “green card lottery”).
NAFTA Treaty The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) is an agreement signed by Canada, Mexico, and the United States, creating a trilateral trade bloc in North America. The agreement came into force on January 1, 1994. Created TN and L visa categories.
Naturalization The process taken by individuals, born in other countries, who are eligible to become U.S. citizens and who wish to do so.
NEXUS Allows expedited travel via land, air or sea to approved members between the U.S. and Canada border: http://Users/davidlewis/Sites/berardi/app/
Nonimmigrant An individual entering the U.S. to live and work on a temporary basis.
Passport A document issued by a national government that certifies the identity and nationality of its holder for the purpose of international travel. It indicates the willingness of the country to “take the traveler back.”
Permanent Resident Also, LPR or green card holder – a person born in another country who has been granted permission to live and work permanently in the United States.
PIMS Petition Information Management Service – Before a U.S. Consulate can issue certain petition-based visas, details of the approved petition must have been uploaded to the Petition Information Management Service. Information from the petition is transferred from USCIS to a State Department processing center in Kentucky, and uploaded to the PIMS system.
POE Port of Entry
Priority Date The priority date is used to determine an individual’s place in line in the visa queue. When the priority date becomes current, the individual will be eligible to apply for an immigrant visa.
Retrogression Visa retrogression occurs when more people apply for a visa in a particular category or country than there are visas available for that month. Retrogression typically occurs toward the end of the fiscal year as visa issuance approaches the annual category, or per-country limitations.
RFE Request for Evidence – issued when USCIS needs more information to make a determination on an application or petition.
Status Status is classified under the category of admission (such as visitor, student, intra-company worker) and the duration of stay permitted.
Stay The length of time for which an individual’s status is authorized.
TN A nonimmigrant visa category.
Visa An actual document issued to an individual and placed in their passport by an official at a U.S. Consulate or Embassy.
WHTI Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) requires U.S. and Canadian travelers to present a passport or other document that denotes identity and citizenship when entering the U.S. It is a result of the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 (IRTPA).  http://Users/davidlewis/Sites/berardi/app/