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Immigration Term Library

Immigrating to a new country can be as exciting as it is daunting. However, the terms you encounter may challenging and difficult to learn. Understanding these terms can help make your immigration journey easier and less confusing.

The legal experts at Scott D. Pollock & Associates, P.C. can help. Explore the glossary below of some of the most commonly used immigration terms.


  • Affidavit of Support

    Also called an I-864, an Affidavit of Support is a legally binding document in which a family member or sponsor of a person seeking to immigrate to the United States ...

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  • Alien

    An alien is any person who is not yet a citizen of the United States. The U.S. government may classify an alien as “resident” or “nonresident.”

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  • Alien Registration Number

    Also called an A-number or Alien Number, this 7-9 digit number is assigned by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to a person who has filed visa or immigration ...

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  • Asylum

    Asylum offers protection and benefits to people entering the United States to escape persecution or violence in their country of origin. Refugees become asylees when they arrive at specific U.S. ...

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  • Beneficiary

    An immigrant sponsored by a relative or employer is referred to as a beneficiary. Individuals named on immigration petitions or applications are called “principal beneficiaries.” Immediate family members of principal ...

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  • Biometrics

    Biometrics is the process the government uses to verify a person’s identity. Required metrics are usually collected at a biometrics appointment and include photos, fingerprints, and a signature.

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  • Citizenship

    Citizenship is the status of being a national of a particular country. The U.S. government grants citizenship at birth, through a parent at a later date, or through the process ...

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  • Consular Process

    Applying for a green card from outside the United States is called Consular Processing. The process involves two government entities: The National Visa Center and a Department of State Consular ...

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  • DACA

    DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) is a program protecting the children of undocumented immigrants from deportation, allowing them to stay in the United States and seek education and employment. ...

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  • Deferred Action

    Immigration courts use deferred action on a case-by-case basis to allow non-citizens to stay in the United States for a set period of time. DACA is an example of deferred ...

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  • Department of Homeland Security

    The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is an arm of the executive branch of the U.S. government responsible for keeping America safe.  USCIS and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) both ...

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  • Deportation

    Deportation is the process of removing a noncitizen from the United States. The United States deports non-citizens who commit criminal acts or otherwise violate immigration law. Deportation rulings can be ...

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  • Green Card

    A green card is a physical card issued to legal permanent residents of the United States. Also known as a Permanent Resident Card, Form I-551, or alien registration card, a ...

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  • Immigrant Visa

    An immigrant visa is for individuals who plan to live and work permanently in the U.S. These visas are also known as green cards. Green card holders also have the ...

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  • Immigration Court

    An immigration court hearing is a civil administrative proceeding that determines whether a foreign-born individual has violated immigration laws, as defined by the Department of Homeland Security. An immigration judge ...

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  • Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR)

    A lawful permanent resident is an individual who has successfully obtained a green card. This status allowed an LPR to live and work indefinitely in the United States. A green ...

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  • Migrant

    A migrant is an individual who leaves their native land to pursue residence in a different country.

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  • Naturalization

    Naturalization is the process a lawful permanent resident goes through to become a citizen of the U.S. There are multiple steps a person must complete to obtain citizenship through naturalization: ...

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  • Non-Immigrant Visa

    A non-immigrant visa allows its bearer to apply to enter the United States for a specific purpose and for a set amount of time. After the visa is approved, a ...

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  • Not-Qualified Alien

    A not-qualified alien refers to an individual who is not eligible to receive certain federal benefits such as welfare despite (in some cases) legally residing in the country. Qualified aliens ...

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  • Processing Times

    Processing time is an estimate of the time required to process your immigration documents. Each case is unique, and processing times can vary greatly depending on the specifics of your ...

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  • Re-entry Permit

    A green card re-entry permit is a travel document issued by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) that allows permanent or conditional residents of the United States to return ...

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  • Removal Proceedings

    Removal proceedings are hearings to determine whether an immigrant can remain in the country. The government may initiate proceedings if they believe the respondent doesn’t have valid immigration status or ...

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  • Resettlement

    Resettlement refers to the relocation of a refugee to a location outside their native country, intending to establish permanent residence.

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  • Resident Alien

    A resident alien is a  person who resides legally in the United States but has not yet become a citizen.

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  • Returning Resident

    A returning resident is a permanent U.S. resident who has spent time out of the country but has returned to reside in the United States again.

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  • Safe Haven

    Safe haven is a temporary refuge provided to a migrant fleeing persecution, violence, and other dangers in their country of origin until they can safely return to their country or ...

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  • Sponsor

    A sponsor is a person willing to take on the financial responsibility for an immigrant, helping them establish permanent residency. Sponsors can refer to a family member or place of ...

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  • Temporary Protected Status (TPS)

    Temporary Protected Status (TPS) is a temporary immigration status granted by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to nationals of certain countries due to conditions that temporarily prevent its citizens ...

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  • Temporary Resident

    A temporary resident is a non-U.S. citizen granted the right to stay in the U.S. for a specific period of time. Temporary residents are granted this status for a specific ...

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  • U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP)

    Customs and Border Protection (CBP), an agency of the Department of Homeland Security, is responsible for securing United States borders. CBP works to prevent the illegal entry of people and ...

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  • U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)

    Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is the investigative branch of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. ICE is responsible for immigration, customs, trade, and border control.

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  • USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services)

    USCIS is a government agency that manages legal immigration to the United States. Part of the Department of Homeland Security, USCIS provides various services, including citizenship, immigration, verifying legal right ...

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  • USCIS Number

    A USCIS Number, also known as an Alien Registration Number (A-number) or Alien Number, is a unique 7-, 8-, or 9-digit number assigned to a noncitizen by the Department of ...

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