Glossary of Terms


Term Definition
Adjust Status 1) To change from a nonimmigrant visa status or other status
2) To adjust the status of a permanent resident (green card holder)
Admission Entry into the United States is authorized by a Department of Homeland Security, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer. When you come from abroad and first arrive in the U.S., the visa allows you to travel to the port-of-entry and request permission to enter the U.S.
Alien Any person not a citizen or national of the U.S. (as defined in INA)
AOS Affidavit of Support, Form I-864.

AOS is a document promising that the person who completes it will support an applicant financially in the U.S.  Family and certain employment immigration cases require the I-864 Affidavit of Support, which is legally binding. All other cases use the I-134 Affidavit of Support
Approval Notice USCIS (Notice of Action, Form I-797) has approved a petition or request for extension of stay or change of status.
AR-11 U.S. Government Change of Address Form


Term Definition
B-1 B-1 visitor for business category – visa category
B-2 B-2 visitor for pleasure, also known as the tourist visa
Biometrics Biologically unique information used to identify individuals. This information can be used to verify identity or check against other entries in the database. The best known biometric is the fingerprint, but others include facial recognition and iris scans.


Term Definition
Canceled Without Prejudice A stamp an embassy or consulate puts on a visa when there is a mistake in the visa or there is a duplicate visa. It does not affect the validity of other visas in the passport. It does not mean that the passport holder will not get another visa.
CBP Customs and Border Protection; an agency of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security
Change Status Changing from one nonimmigrant visa status to another nonimmigrant visa status while a person is in the U.S. is permitted for some types of visas, if approved by USCIS. Requests for change of status must be made by the visa holder to the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). USCIS determines if the request is approved or denied.


Term Definition
D/S Duration of Status
Derivative Status Getting a status (visa) through another applicant, as provided under immigration law for certain visa categories. For example, the spouse and children of an exchange visitor (J Visa holder), would be granted derivative status as a J-2 Visa holder. Derivative status is only possible if the principle applicant is issued a visa.
Department of Homeland Security See DHS.
Department of Labor See DOL.
Department of State See DOS.
DHS The Department of Homeland Security.

DHS is comprised of three main organizations responsible for immigration policies, procedures, implementation and enforcement of U.S. laws, and more. These DHS organizations include the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Together they provide the basic framework for regulating the flow of visitors, workers and immigrants to the U.S.
DOL The Department of Labor of the U.S. Government

A cabinet level unit/ministry of U.S. Government that has responsibility for labor issues. It has responsibility for deciding whether foreign workers can work in the U.S.
DOS The Department of State of the U.S. Government
DS-2019 Status document for J-1 and J-2 (dependent of J-1) status
DSO Designated School Official
Term Definition
EAD Card The Employment Authorization Document (EAD) proves that you are allowed to work in the U.S.
Exchange Visitor (EV) A foreign citizen coming to the U.S. to participate in a particular program in education, training, research, or other authorized exchange visitor program
Term Definition
F-1 Student visa
Term Definition
Green Card See I-551 (Green Card).
Grace Period Some visa categories allow the nonimmigrant to remain in the U.S. for a specified grace period after their program end date. They may not participate in studies or research activities or work.
Term Definition
H-1B Temporary Worker in a Specialty Occupation
Term Definition
I-20 Status document for F-1 and F-2 (dependent of F-1) status
I-551 (Green Card) Permanent residence card or alien registration receipt card or “green card”

A wallet-sized card showing that the person is a lawful permanent resident (immigrant) in the U.S. It is also known as a permanent resident card (PRC), an alien registration receipt card and I-551. It used to be green in color.
I-797 Status document for  H-1B and H-4 (dependent of H-1B) status
I-9 Form Employment Eligibility Verification form

I-9 established work authorization date. Work authorization ends when the first of these documents expire: passport or status document (I-20).
I-94 card (Arrival-Departure Card) Also known as the I-94, Arrival-Departure Record. Customs and Border Protection official at the port-of-entry gives foreign visitors (all non-U.S. citizens) an Arrival-Departure Record, (a small white card) when they enter the U.S. Recorded on this card are the immigrant classification and the authorized period of stay in the U.S.
IAO Abbreviation for the University of Utah’s International Admissions Office
IC Abbreviation for the University of Utah’s International Center
Immigrant visa A visa for a person who plans to live indefinitely and permanently in the U.S.
Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) See INS.
Ineligible/Ineligibility Immigration law says that certain conditions and actions prevent a person from entering the U.S. These conditions and activities are called ineligibilities, and the applicant is ineligible for (cannot get) a visa. Examples are selling drugs, active tuberculosis, being a terrorist, and using fraud to get a visa
In Status In status means that you are in compliance with the requirements of your visa type under immigration law.

Every visa is issued for a particular purpose and for a specific class of visitor. Each visa classification has a set of requirements that the visa holder must follow and maintain. Those who follow the requirements maintain their status and ensure their ability to remain in the U.S. Those who do not follow the requirements violate their status and are considered “out of status.”
INS Immigration and Naturalization Service.

A branch of the U.S. Department of Justice that formerly existed and had responsibility for immigration and naturalization. INS was renamed and became part of Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on March 1, 2003.
ITIN Individual Taxpayer Identification Number.

Individuals who are not eligible for a Social Security Number, may obtain the Individual Taxpayer Identification Number.
IV Immigrant Visa
Term Definition
J-1 Department of State Exchange Visitor Program
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Term Definition
Labor Certification (PR) A step in the Permanent Residency application process, used only when position is full time, tenure track and includes teaching duties.

The initial stage of the process by which certain foreign workers get permission to work in the U.S. The employer is responsible for getting the labor certification from the Department of Labor. In general the process works to make sure that the work of foreign workers in the U.S. will not adversely affect job opportunities, wages and working conditions of U.S. workers.
Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) A person who has immigrated legally but is not an American citizen. This person has been admitted to the U.S. as an immigrant and has a Permanent Resident Card, Form I-551 also known as green card. It is a wallet-sized card showing that the person is a lawful permanent resident (immigrant) in the U.S. This person is also called a legal permanent resident, a green card holder, a permanent resident alien, a legal permanent resident alien (LPRA) and a resident alien permit holder.
Lose Status To stay in the U.S. longer than the period of time which the Department of Homeland Security gave to a person when he/she entered the U.S., or to fail to meet the requirements or violate the terms of the visa classification. The person becomes “out of status.”
Term Definition
Maintain status To follow the requirements of the visa status and comply with any limitations on duration of stay.
Term Definition
Nonimmigrant An individual who seeks to be admitted to the U.S. for a limited period of time and with a purpose that is temporary in nature
Nonimmigrant intent The U.S. Consulate presumes that all applicants for visas intend to immigrate to the U.S.; the applicant must prove otherwise (show ties to their home country) to be eligible for a nonimmigrant visa
Non-resident alien Another term for nonimmigrant
Term Definition
O-1 Workers of Extraordinary Ability
Out of status A U.S. visa allows the bearer to apply for entry to the U.S. in a certain classification, for a specific purpose. For example, student (F), visitor (B), temporary worker (H). Every visa is issued for a particular purpose and for a specific class of visitor. Each visa classification has a set of requirements that the visa holder must follow and maintain; those who do not follow the requirements violate their status and are considered “out of status.”
Overstay An “Overstay” occurs when a visitor stays longer than permitted as shown on his/her I-94 (Arrival/Departure) card. A violation of the CBP (Customs and Border Protection) defined length of admission may make you ineligible for a visa in the future.
Term Definition
Passport An official government-issued document authorizing travel to foreign countries and authenticating the bearer’s identity, citizenship and right to re-enter his/her native country.
Permanent Resident An alien who may lawfully reside in the U.S. after having a petition for permanent residency approved
Port of Entry The place where a person requests admission to the U.S. by the CBP officer, such as an airport or border crossing.
Post American consulate, embassy or other diplomatic mission abroad. Note that some American consulates, embassies and missions do not issue visas.
Prevailing Wage A salary that meets the average salary of similarly employed workers
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Term Definition
Required Wage H-1B employer must agree to pay an H-1B employee the required wage rate, the higher of the actual wage and the prevailing wage
Term Definition
Security Clearance Part of visa application process at the U.S. Consulate
SEVIS Student and Exchange Visitor Information System. SEVIS is an Internet-based system by which international students, exchange scholars and their dependents are monitored while in the U.S.
SEVIS enables schools and program sponsors to transmit electronic information to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Department of State (DOS) throughout a student’s or exchange visitor’s program in the U.S.

SEVIS access is also available to U.S. consulates and embassies
SEVP Student and Exchange Visitor Program. SEVP is the federal agency that administers the SEVIS program.
Spouse Legally married husband or wife. A co-habiting partner does not qualify as a spouse for immigration purposes. A common-law husband or wife may or may not qualify as a spouse for immigration purposes, depending on the laws of the country where the relationship occurs.
Status A nonimmigrant alien must be in a nonimmigrant status while they are in the U.S.
Status expiration date This date appears on the I-94 card.
Term Definition
TN TN Professionals under the North American Free-Trade Agreement (NAFTA)

Only available for citizens of Canada and Mexico
Two Year Home Residency requirement / 212(e) The two-year home country physical presence requirement is one of the most important requirements of exchange visitor status.

Term Definition
U.S. Consulate Consular Affairs is responsible for interviewing and issuing visas to all persons applying for entry into the U.S. The U.S. Consulate is governed by the Department of State (DOS)
USCIS U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Formally INS – Immigration and Naturalization Service.
U.S.C.I.S. is the government agency that oversees lawful immigration to the U.S.
Term Definition
Visa A visa stamp issued by the U.S. Consulate allows the holder to seek entry into the U.S. in a particular nonimmigrant visa category (i.e. F-1 or J-1)

Not to be confused with status. Cannot be used for work authorization
Visa Expiration Date The visa expiration date is shown on the visa. This means the visa is valid, or can be used, from the date it is issued until the date it expires. The Expiration Date for the visa should not be confused with the authorized length of your stay in the U.S., given to you by the U.S. immigration inspector at port-of-entry, on the I-94 card (Arrival-Departure Record). The visa expiration date has nothing to do with the authorized length of your stay in the U.S. for any given visit.
Visa Validity This generally means the visa is valid, or can be used from the date it is issued until the date it expires.
Visa Waiver Program Citizens of participating countries meeting the Visa Waiver Program requirements may be allowed to enter the U.S. as visitors for pleasure or business without first getting a visa. Visitors can stay only 90 days and cannot extend their stay.
Term Definition
Waiver of 212(e) J-1 Exchange Visitors may apply for a waiver, but should realize that important restrictions will apply to their programs
WB Visitors for business entering the U.S. using the Visa Waiver Program
WT Visitors for pleasure entering the U.S. using the Visa Waiver Program
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