Immigration Glossary


Immigration Glossary


Here’s a glossary of some common immigration-related terms. There is a lot of confusion over several of these terms in the media, and we hope these definitions will help you better understand them.

ASYLUM: A form of relief those who can prove a well-founded fear of or past persecution because of race, religion, nationality, political opinions, or membership in a particular social group if returned to his/her country of origin and he/she is not statutorily barred from such relief.

DACA: Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) is an American immigration policy that allows certain undocumented immigrants who entered the country before their 16th birthday and before June 2007 to receive a renewable two-year work permit and exemption from deportation.

DAPA: Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents. This is a program that President Obama put forward in November 2014 which is currently on hold. We anticipate that this program should be implemented soon, and will update you when it has been initiated.

GREEN CARD OR “PERMANENT RESIDENT CARD”: A green card is a document which demonstrates that a person is a lawful permanent resident, allowing a non-citizen to live and work in the United States indefinitely. A green card/lawful permanent residence can be revoked if a person does not maintain their permanent residence in the United States, travels outside the country for too long, or breaks certain laws.

LAWFUL PERMANENT RESIDENT (LPR): Any person not a citizen of the United States who is residing in the U.S. with permanent lawful status as an immigrant. Also referred to as “Permanent Resident Alien,” “Resident Alien Permit Holder,” and “Green Card Holder.”

LITIGATION: (Law) the act or process of bringing or contesting a legal action in court or a judicial proceeding or contest

NACARA: The Nicaraguan Adjustment and Central American Relief Act. Signed into law in 1997, NACARA provides various forms of immigration benefits and relief from deportation to certain Nicaraguans, Cubans, Salvadorans, Guatemalans, nationals of former Soviet bloc countries and their dependents.

NATURALIZATION: The process by which U.S. citizenship is conferred upon a lawful permanent resident after he or she fulfills the requirements established by Congress in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). The general requirements for administrative naturalization include: a period of continuous residence and physical presence in the United States; an ability to read, write, and speak English; a knowledge and understanding of U.S. history and government; good moral character; attachment to the principles of the U.S. Constitution; and a favorable disposition toward the United States.

PRO SE: Means “on one’s own behalf”. Even if unable to provide direct representation, NWIRP offers legal advice and assistance to a number of persons who do not have legal representation.

REFUGEE: Any person who is outside his or her country of nationality who is unable or unwilling to return to that country because of persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution. Persecution or the fear thereof must be based on the alien’s race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion. Refugees are subject to ceilings by geographic area set annually by the President in consultation with Congress and are eligible to adjust to lawful permanent resident status after one year of continuous presence in the United States.

REMOVAL: The formal expulsion or deportation of a non-citizen from the United States when the non-citizen has been found removable for violating the immigration laws. A person can be removed for overstaying a visa or for breaking laws, including immigration laws.

T-VISA: In 2000, Congress passed the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act (VTVPA). The VTVPA created a special nonimmigrant classification designated as the T visa for victims of trafficking who are brought into the United States.

UNRESTRICTED FUNDS: The term “unrestricted funds” is a fundraising term referring to donations that are available for the nonprofit to use toward any purpose. Unrestricted funds are often used to pay for the operating expenses of the organization (ex: rent).

US CITIZEN: With very few exceptions, anyone who was born in the US. Also anyone who is “naturalized.” Citizenship can be derived from parents as well, regardless of place of birth.

USCIS: US Citizenship and Immigration Services is one of the new bureaus under the Dept of Homeland Security, which replaced the INS in 2003. The USCIS is responsible for the administration of immigration and naturalization adjudication functions and establishing immigration services policies and priorities.

U-VISA: In 2000, Congress passed the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act (VTVPA). The VTVPA created a special nonimmigrant classification designated as the U visa for victims of specific crimes who assist law enforcement with the investigation and/or prosecution of the crime.

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 guarantee the bearer the right to enter the United States.