Immigration Legal Terms

AAdjustment of Status
This is a procedure allowing certain aliens already in the United States to apply for immigrant status. Aliens admitted to the United States in a nonimmigrant, refugee, or parolee category may have their status changed to that of lawful permanent resident if they are eligible to receive an immigrant visa and one is immediately available. In such cases, the alien is counted as an immigrant as of the date of adjustment, even though the alien may have been in the United States for an extended period of time.
Any person who is not a citizen or national of the United States. An illegal alien is someone who enters the United States illegally, or who violates the terms of their admission to the United States by working without authorization or by overstaying. A nonimmigrant alien is someone who enters the U.S. lawfully for a temporary purpose. An immigrant alien, also known as a Green Card holder, is someone who is admitted to the United States as a lawful permanent resident and who intends to stay in the U.S. permanently.
CChange of Status
In general, you may apply to change your nonimmigrant status as long as you were lawfully admitted into the United States with a nonimmigrant visa, your nonimmigrant status remains valid, you have not committed any crimes that would make you ineligible, and you were not admitted to the United States in one of the following visa categories:Visa Waiver Program (VWP); Crew member (D nonimmigrant visa) in transit through the United States (C nonimmigrant visa); In transit through the United States without a visa (TWOV); Fiancé(e) of a U.S. citizen or dependent of a fiancé(e) (K nonimmigrant visa); Informant (and accompanying family) on terrorism or organized crime (S nonimmigrant visa).
“Department of Homeland Security” - the Cabinet-level department within which USCIS, USICE, and other immigration-related agencies are found
OOut of status
A nonimmigrant visitor violates his or her status or becomes “out of status, if any of the following occur: (1) the person stays in the U.S. beyond the expiration date of the status granted; (2) the person engages in employment without specific authorization; or, (3) the person engages in an activity that is not consistent with the status in which the person was admitted. A person who violates his or her status, becoming “out of status”, becomes legally removable as of the moment the violation takes place. If the USCIS becomes aware of such a violation of status they have the right to file an order for removal from the U.S. against the person. If the violation of status is then proved at a removal hearing, the person will be ordered removed.
Status can refer to the classification under which the person is admitted to the U.S. (i.e. as a student, visitor, temporary worker, etc.) and also to the length of the stay permitted in the U.S. Both of these components may be changed by the USCIS. A person admitted in one status may seek a change of status into a new classification and the duration of a person's stay may be extended by the USCIS. Again, the validity period of a visa has nothing to do with the duration of a nonimmigrant visitor's permitted stay.
UUnlawful presence
If a nonimmigrant has been informed that they are in “unlawful presence” by the USCIS and they remain in the United States for more than 180 days but then depart voluntarily, they must remain outside the U.S. for three years before being eligible to immigrate again. A person who remains in "unlawful presence" for more than twelve months must remain outside the U.S. for ten years. The term "unlawful presence" is not synonymous with "in violation of status" or “out of status”.
"U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services" – formerly known as I.N.S. - - the agency within the Department of Homeland Security that judges petitions and applications for immigration benefits.
“U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement” - the agency responsible for investigating and prosecuting violations of U.S. immigration law.
A U.S. visa allows someone to apply for entry to the U.S. but does not grant them the right to enter the United States. The visa will indicate what classification the person falls into (e.g. student (F), visitor (B), temporary worker (H)). Outside of the U.S., the Department of State (DOS) is responsible for visa judgments at U.S. Embassies and Consulates. At U.S ports of entry, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Bureau of Customs and Border Protection (BCBP) immigration inspectors determine admission into, length of stay and conditions of stay in the U.S.
WWork Permit
U.S. employers must check to make sure all employees, regardless of citizenship or national origin, are allowed to work in the United States. If you are not a citizen or a lawful permanent resident, you may need to apply for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) to prove you may work in the United States.