Common Immigration Status Acronyms
USC – U.S. citizen
CR – Conditional resident
LPR – Lawful permanent resident
EWI – Entered without inspection
Statuses And documents
Immigrant – We consider a person to be an immigrant who comes to the U.S. intending to remain here for an undetermined period and who wishes to make our country their primary residence. Anyone who comes here planning to be a permanent resident goes by the status of intending immigrant. See our employment-based or family-based immigration pages for more information.
Nonimmigrant – A nonimmigrant is a person coming to the U.S. for a specific purpose, such as visitor, student or employee. See our temporary visas page for more information.
Visa – A visa is a document placed in your passport by a U.S. consular officer. A visa permits a person to apply to be admitted to the U.S. at a port of entry. A visa does not give you the right to enter the U.S.; it only provides you with the right to apply to enter at a port of entry.
Immigrant visa – If you qualify for permanent residence, then a consular officer will issue you an immigrant visa. An immigrant visa is a document placed in your passport by a consular officer. After immigrant visa issuance and payment of a fee, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will mail you a green card. See our immigrant employment or family pages for more information.
Nonimmigrant visa – A nonimmigrant visa is one that allows a person to remain within the United States for a particular purpose for a limited time. A nonimmigrant visa is valid for entry only for the purpose for which it was issued. For example, a student visa (F-1) cannot be used for entry as a visitor. The validity period shown in a nonimmigrant visa relates only to the period during which it may be used in making an application for admission into the U.S.; it does not indicate the length of time that a foreign national may spend in the U.S. See our temporary visas page for more information.
Branches of U.S. Immigration
DHS – Department of Homeland Security
ICE – U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement
USCIS – U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
CBP – U.S. Customs and Border Protection (which includes Border Patrol)
ERO – Enforcement and Removal Operations
DOL – U.S. Department of Labor
PERM – Program electronic review management, the electronic labor certification program filed with the DOL
LCA – Labor Condition Application, which is filed with DOL for some employment-based nonimmigrant visa petitions
FDNS – Fraud Detection and National Security Directorate
Answers To Some Common Questions
How do I become a U.S. citizen?
A person may become a U.S. citizen by birth or through naturalization. Generally, people are U.S. citizens if they are born in the United States or if one of their parents is a U.S. citizen. If you were born in the United States (including, in most cases, Puerto Rico, Guam or the U.S. Virgin Islands), then you are an American citizen at birth. Your birth certificate is proof of your citizenship. Please refer to our citizenship page to find out who may be eligible to apply for U.S. citizenship or to determine whether you are already a citizen through your parents or grandparents.
What is naturalization?
Naturalization is the act of making a person a citizen of the United States who was not born with that status. An application for citizenship is an application for naturalization. Please refer to our citizenship page for more information.
How do I become a naturalized citizen?
If you are not a U.S. citizen by birth, then you may be eligible to become a citizen through naturalization. People who are 18 years and older use the Application for Naturalization (Form N-400) to become naturalized. Children who are deriving citizenship from naturalized parents use the Application for a Certificate of Citizenship (Form N-600) to become naturalized. Please refer to our citizenship page for more information.
What are the requirements for naturalization?
You may apply for naturalization if any of the following situations apply:
- You have been a lawful permanent resident (LPR) for five years.
- You have been an LPR for three years, have been married to a U.S. citizen for those three years and continue to be married to that U.S. citizen.
- You are an LPR child of United States citizen parents.
- You have qualifying military service.
Children under 18 may automatically become citizens when their parents naturalize. Please refer to our citizenship page for more information.
Is my child a U.S. citizen?
Usually, if children are permanent residents, then they can derive citizenship from their naturalized parents. Please refer to our citizenship page for more information on this topic.
Is it possible to be a dual citizen of the United States of America and another country?
Yes. If you have been a citizen of another country from birth or childhood and you become a U.S. citizen, then you may retain dual citizenship as long as the other country does not have any laws or regulations requiring you to formally renounce either citizenship.
Can I work in the United States?
You may only work in the U.S. if you have work authorization. An individual may obtain work authorization through many different ways, such as through an employer’s petition, an application or an F-1 optional practical training after completing a degree program at a college or university.
Through the U.S. immigration system, individuals may apply for a variety of temporary visas that allow them to work for the short term. Factors that immigration authorities will consider include education and training. They will also consider the type of employment opportunity and the sort of job offered.
Permanent work visas are also available under special circumstances. Again, immigration will look at the various factors to determine eligibility. An individual’s spouse and children may also be eligible to receive permanent residence in the U.S. through this process.
Besides applying for a visa, individuals may obtain permission to work in the U.S. through family-based applications, asylum or cancellation of removal petitions.
Please refer to our employer-based immigration page for additional information.
I have been a victim of crime or abuse. Can I get a green card?
You may be eligible for a green card (lawful permanent residence). Please refer to our survivors of certain crimes page for more information on how an individual may be able to obtain legal status if they have been a victim of a crime.
I am widow or widower of a U.S. citizen. Can I get a green card?
If your U.S. spouse has died and you don’t have your green card yet, you may still be able to obtain a green card for you and your children.
I came here as a child. Can I get legal status?
You may be able to obtain a grant of “deferred action” and work authorization if you meet certain requirements. Please refer to our Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) page for further information.
Can I bring my family member(s) to the U.S.?
You may be able to bring your family members to the U.S. if you are a permanent resident or a U.S. citizen. The methods by which you do so can include applying for a K-1, or fiancé(e), visa. In the event that a marriage takes place during the application process, you can apply for an adjustment of status.
You may also submit an I-130 petition allowing for a spouse, parent, child, brother or sister to come to the United States. Immigration authorities allow individuals already residing in the U.S. to adjust their status as well. You can achieve such an outcome by filing an I-130 and I-485 together. While awaiting approval of the application, you can seek permission from authorities to work and travel.
Please refer to our family-based immigration page for more information.
I won the diversity visa (DV) lottery. What is next?
If you have won the DV lottery, please go to travel.state.gov and search “diversity lottery” for additional information.
Know Your Rights
If you are approached by immigration officers or the police, you do not have to speak with them. No matter what your legal status in the U.S. is, you are protected under the U.S. Constitution’s right to remain silent. You also have the right to refuse the police or immigration entry into your home or the search of your belongings unless they have a judicial warrant.
The statements made throughout this website are not intended to provide legal advice and are neither meant to replace legal advice nor to substitute for obtaining legal advice from a qualified attorney. The statements are solely meant to provide very basic information about concepts in immigration law. By reading the information on this website, you have not created an attorney-client relationship with Soreff Weinrich Law.