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Glossary & Acronyms
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
Safe Haven - Temporary refuge given to migrants who have fled their countries of origin to seek protection or relief from persecution or other hardships, until they can return to their countries safely or, if necessary until they can obtain permanent relief from the conditions they fled.
Service Centers - Four offices established to handle the filing, data entry, and adjudication of certain applications for immigration services and benefits. The applications are mailed to INS Service Centers -- Service Centers are not staffed to receive walk-in applications or questions.
Special Agricultural Workers (SAW) - Aliens who performed labor in perishable agricultural commodities for a specified period of time and were admitted for temporary and then permanent residence under a provision of the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986. Up to 350,000 aliens who worked at least 90 days in each of the 3 years preceding May 1, 1986 were eligible for Group I temporary resident status. Eligible aliens who qualified under this requirement but applied after the 350,000 limit was met and aliens who performed labor in perishable agricultural commodities for at least 90 days during the year ending May 1, 1986 were eligible for Group II temporary resident status. Adjustment to permanent resident status is essentially automatic for both groups; however, aliens in Group I were eligible on December 1, 1989 and those in Group II were eligible one year later on December 1, 1990.
Special Immigrants - Certain categories of immigrants who were exempt from numerical limitation before fiscal year 1992 and subject to limitation under the employment-based fourth preference beginning in 1992; persons who lost citizenship by marriage; persons who lost citizenship by serving in foreign armed forces; ministers of religion and other religious workers, their spouses and children; certain employees and former employees of the U.S. Government abroad, their spouses and children; Panama Canal Act immigrants; certain foreign medical school graduates, their spouses and children; certain retired employees of international organizations, their spouses and children; juvenile court dependents; and certain aliens serving in the U.S. Armed Forces, their spouses and children.
Special Naturalization Provisions - Provisions covering special classes of persons whom may be naturalized even though they do not meet all the general requirements for naturalization. Such special provisions allow: 1) wives or husbands of U.S. citizens to file for naturalization after three years of lawful permanent residence instead of the prescribed five years; 2) a surviving spouse of a U.S. citizen who served in the armed forces to file his or her naturalization application in any district instead of where he/she resides; and 3) children of U.S. citizen parents to be naturalized without meeting certain requirements or taking the oath, if too young to understand the meaning. Other classes of persons who may qualify for special consideration are former U.S. citizens, servicemen, seamen, and employees of organizations promoting U.S. interests abroad.
Sponsor - There are many ways to sponsor an alien. The term "sponsor" in the immigration sense, often means to bring to the United States or "petition for". If you would like to sponsor, or petition for, a relative, please read the information entitled "How do I Bring my Family to the United States to Live?" If you would like to sponsor, or petition for, an employee, please see the instructions entitled "How Do I Get Immigrant Status Based on Employment?" If you would like to sponsor, or petition for, an overseas orphan, please refer to the information entitled "How do I bring an orphan to the United States to live?"
If you are a refugee or an asylee and wish to sponsor, or petition for a relative, please refer to the document entitled "How Do I Get my Children or Spouse Derivative Asylum (or Refugee) Status?"
Another meaning of the term "sponsor" is a person who completes Form I-864, Affidavit of Support Under Section 213A of the Act. This type of sponsorship is not, however, the first step in any immigration process.
In order to be a sponsor and file Form I-864, Affidavit of Support Under Section 213A of the Act, the following conditions must already be met:
If you are a U.S. citizen and are sponsoring, or petitioning for, your spouse, parents or minor children who are currently in the United States, the above conditions do not need to be met in that exact order. Your relative may file his or her application for adjustment of status to that of a lawful permanent resident at the same time you file the relative petition. If this is your situation, you, the petitioner, must complete Form I-864, Affidavit of Support, and the petition for your relative and give them to your relative to submit with the application for adjustment of status.
For further information on filing for adjustment of status to that of a lawful permanent resident, please refer to the instructions entitled "How Do I Become a Lawful Permanent Resident While in the United States?" For further information about being a sponsor on Form I-864, please see the instructions entitled "How Do I File an Affidavit of Support for a Relative?" or see "Affidavit of Support Package".
Stateless - Having no nationality.
Stowaway - An alien coming to the United States surreptitiously on an airplane or vessel without legal status of admission. Such an alien is subject to denial of formal admission and return to the point of embarkation by the transportation carrier.
Student - As a nonimmigrant class of admission, an alien coming temporarily to the United States to pursue a full course of study in an approved program in either an academic (college, university, seminary, conservatory, academic high school, elementary school, other institution, or language training program) or a vocational or other recognized nonacademic institution.
Suboffices - Offices found in some Districts that serve a portion of the Districtís jurisdiction. A Suboffice, headed by an Officer-in-Charge, provides many services and enforcement functions. Their locations are determined, in part, to increase convenience to INSí customers.
Subject to the Numerical Limit - Categories of legal immigrants subject to annual limits under the provisions of the flexible numerical limit of 675,000 set by the Immigration Act of 1990. The largest categories are: family-sponsored preferences; employment-based preferences; and diversity immigrants.
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Temporary Protected Status (TPS) - Establishes a legislative basis for allowing a group of persons temporary refuge in the United States. Under a provision of the Immigration Act of 1990, the Attorney General may designate nationals of a foreign state to be eligible for TPS with a finding that conditions in that country pose a danger to personal safety due to ongoing armed conflict or an environmental disaster. Grants of TPS are initially made for periods of 6 to 18 months and may be extended depending on the situation. Removal proceedings are suspended against aliens while they are in Temporary Protected Status.
Temporary Resident - See Nonimmigrant.
Temporary Worker - An alien coming to the United States to work for a temporary period of time. The Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 and the Immigration Act of 1990, as well as other legislation, revised existing classes and created new classes of nonimmigrant admission. Nonimmigrant temporary worker classes of admission are as follows:
See other sections of this Glossary for definitions of Exchange Visitor, Intracompany Transferee, and U.S.-Canada or North American Free-Trade Agreement classes of nonimmigrant admission.
Transit Alien - An alien in immediate and continuous transit through the United States, with or without a visa, including, 1) aliens who qualify as persons entitled to pass in transit to and from the United Nations Headquarters District and foreign countries and 2) foreign government officials and their spouses and unmarried minor (or dependent) children in transit.
Transition Quarter - The three-month period--July 1 through September 30, 1976--between fiscal year 1976 and fiscal year 1977. At that time, the fiscal year definition shifted from July 1-June 30 to October 1-September 30.
Transit Without Visa (TWOV) - A transit alien traveling without a nonimmigrant visa under section 233 of the INA. An alien admitted under agreements with a transportation line, which guarantees his immediate and continuous passage to a foreign destination. (See Transit Alien.)
Treaty Trader or Investor - As a nonimmigrant class of admission, an alien coming to the United States, under the provisions of a treaty of commerce and navigation between the United States and the foreign state of such alien, to carry on substantial trade or to direct the operations of an enterprise in which he/she has invested a substantial amount of capital, and the alienís spouse and unmarried minor children.
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Underrepresented Countries, Natives of - The Immigration Amendments of 1988, Public Law 101-658 (Act of 11/5/88) allowed for 10,000 visas to be issued to natives of underrepresented countries in each of fiscal years 1990 and 1991. Under-represented countries are defined as countries that received less than 25 percent of the maximum allowed under the country limitations (20,000 for independent countries and 5,000 for dependencies) in fiscal year 1988. (See Diversity.)
United States-Canada Free-Trade Agreement - Public Law 100-449 (Act of 9/28/88) established a special, reciprocal trading relationship between the United States and Canada. It provided two new classes of nonimmigrant admission for temporary visitors to the United States-Canadian citizen business persons and their spouses and unmarried minor children. Entry is facilitated for visitors seeking classification as visitors for business, treaty traders or investors, intracompany transferees, or other business people engaging in activities at a professional level. Such visitors are not required to obtain nonimmigrant visas, prior petitions, labor certifications, or prior approval but must satisfy the inspecting officer they are seeking entry to engage in activities at a professional level and that they are so qualified. The United States-Canada Free-Trade Agreement was superseded by the North American Free-Trade Agreement (NAFTA) as of 1/1/94.
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Visa - A U.S. visa allows the bearer to apply for entry to the U.S. in a certain classification (e.g. student (F), visitor (B), temporary worker (H)). A visa does not grant the bearer the right to enter the United States. The Department of State (DOS) is responsible for visa adjudication at U.S. Embassies and Consulates outside of the U.S. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Bureau of Customs and Border Protection (BCBP) immigration inspectors determine admission into, length of stay and conditions of stay in, the U.S. at a port of entry. The information on a nonimmigrant visa only relates to when an individual may apply for entry into the U.S. DHS immigration inspectors will record the terms of your admission on your Arrival/Departure Record (I-94 white or I-94W green) and in your passport.
Visa Waiver Program - Allows citizens of certain selected countries, traveling temporarily to the United States under the nonimmigrant admission classes of visitors for pleasure and visitors for business, to enter the United States without obtaining nonimmigrant visas. Admission is for no more than 90 days. The program was instituted by the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (entries began 7/1/88). Under the Guam Visa Waiver Program, certain visitors from designated countries may visit Guam only for up to 15 days without first having to obtain nonimmigrant visitor visas.
Voluntary Departure - The departure of an alien from the United States without an order of removal. The departure may or may not have been preceded by a hearing before an immigration judge. An alien allowed to voluntarily depart concedes removability but does not have a bar to seeking admission at a port-of-entry at any time. Failure to depart within the time granted results in a fine and a ten-year bar to several forms of relief from deportation.
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Withdrawal - An arriving alienís voluntary retraction of an application for admission to the United States in lieu of a removal hearing before an immigration judge or an expedited removal. Withdrawals are not included in nonimmigrant admission data.
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Last Modified 06/09/2003