Immigration Terms

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245(i)

Section of the immigration law enabling qualifying persons to file for adjustment of status in the U.S., despite certain problems with their immigration status. Though expired, Section 245(i) has a "grandfather clause" which continues 245(i) benefits for persons who had employment or family-based petitions or labor certifications filed on or before a specified deadline. [Please search "Section 245" on MurthyDotCom for relevant details.] Note: Section 245(i) does not permit one to remain in the U.S. in expired status. However, for those who qualify, 245(i) provides the opportunity to retroactively cure the status problem at the time of filing for adjustment of status. Also, 245(i) is not an amnesty; it merely allows the final paperwork for the normal green card procedure to be submitted within the U.S. instead of abroad.

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AC21 (also, ACTA)

The American Competitiveness in the Twenty-First Century Act. Enacted in October 2000, AC21 introduced many changes, including but not limited to (a) H1B portability allowing certain H1B workers to begin work for the new employer upon filing the petition, rather than waiting for approval; (b) ability to extend the H1B beyond 6 years if the employment-based green card process began at least a year before the end of the 6th year and is currently ongoing; (c) ability to have the I-485 approved for a new employer if job is similar and I-485 has been pending 180 days.

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adjustment of status (also, AOS or I-485)

One of two possible final stages of the green card process involving the filing of paperwork with the USCIS in the U.S.; the other possible final stage being CP. In most immediate relative FB cases, the I-130 immigrant petition is filed simultaneously with the I-485 adjustment of status; sometimes attorneys refer to this procedure as a "one-step." In contrast, most EB cases have three stages: labor certification, I-140, immigrant petition, and adjustment of status. [More information on USCIS forms, such as the I-485, I-130, and I-140, can be found on the USCIS WebSite, accessible through our Forms page.] Note: Some people may be legally precluded from AOS, but are still eligible for CP. Others may have issues that prevent them from traveling, or that may be more difficult to resolve from abroad, making AOS the better choice in such situations. Every case is different and there are many factors to consider. AC21 has also created additional AOS-related benefits.

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admission

Being allowed into the country in a particular status following inspection by a CBP inspector at a port of entry. Admission is one of two forms of legal entry to the U.S., the other being parole. For nonimmigrants, that status and the expiration date of one's authorized stay are indicated on the I-94 card. A person admitted as an immigrant (permanent resident) does not normally get an I-94 card but does get an entry stamp in his/her passport. (See also, parole and advance parole.)

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advance parole (also, AP)

A travel document authorizing one, in certain situations, to return to the U.S. from a trip abroad - most commonly, when one has an AOS application pending. Advance parole can also be granted in some circumstances to a person who is going abroad to a third country in order to process an immigrant visa, and in other special situations. (See also, parole.)

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affidavit of support

Term used to describe two USCIS forms that have the purpose of pledging financial support to the foreign national. Form I-864 is used in FB green card cases and those EB cases in which the company is owned by the beneficiary's relative. For other situations, Form I-134 is used; e.g. for the derivative spouse in an EB case or for a visitor visa (see Visit USA section on MurthyDotCom) applicant.

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Allied Health Care Professional (AHCP)

Term used for the class of health care workers subject to the requirement of VisaScreen Certification. The USCIS, in consultation with the Department of Health and Human Services, has designated seven categories of such health care workers: nurses; physical therapists; occupational therapists; speech language pathologists & audiologists; medical technologists (also known as clinical laboratory scientists); medical technicians (also known as clinical laboratory technicians) and physician assistants.

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amnesty

A relatively generous program to forgive a violation of law, in general legal terms. For example, tax amnesties enable persons who have failed to pay taxes to come forward and pay back taxes without penalty. In the immigration context, most resembling amnesty has been the 1986 legalization program. People qualified based upon specific eligibility criteria, including having been present in the U.S. as of a certain date. Note: Some opponents of immigration, have incorrectly characterized 245(i) as an amnesty. However, 245(i) does not protect one from removal. Instead, it provides an opportunity to cure a status problem after-the-fact. It requires one complete the usual, employment-based or family-based green card process. Conversely, an amnesty would only involve an application from the individual, similar to the legalization program.

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appeal

The official process of requesting one’s case be reviewed again if the application or petition is denied. An appeal may be of either an administrative or judicial decision. However, some administrative decisions are not eligible for appeal, although it may be possible to file a Motion to Reconsider or Motion to Reopen.

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application

The paperwork itself or the act of submitting the formal request filed by a person on his or her own behalf. In contrast, a petition is filed by a person or a company on behalf of someone else.

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asylum

A safe haven provided for one who cannot return to the home country because of a "well-founded fear of persecution" based upon race, religion, ethnicity, political opinion, or membership to a particular social group. While it is not permanent residency, a person who is granted asylum may be able to file for adjustment of status after one year. The asylum application process is complex, and there are time limits for applying.

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beneficiary

One for whom a petition is filed. A beneficiary can either be the principal (direct) beneficiary, or a derivative (dependent of the principal).

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BCIS

Renamed the USCIS. See U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

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Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS)

Government agency later renamed the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), which falls under the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. USCIS is responsible for determining eligibility for immigration benefits inside the United States.

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Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)

Renamed the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

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