Immigration Glossary

Term Definition
Academic Training  Similar to Practical Training, but for J-1 students. Note, J-1 research scholars are not eligible for this.
Academic Year  Stanford's accounting and school year, which begins on September 1 and ends August 31. See "Fiscal Year."
Adjudication The USCIS procedure of considering and processing applications and petitions.
Adjustment application  An assemblage of USCIS application forms comprising the I-485 and supporting applications and documentation.
Alien Anyone who is not a US citizen or national.
Application A form and supporting documentation that is filed by an individual in his own behalf (for an exception, see "Self-Sponsored Petition."
Approval Notice A Notice of Action generated by the USCIS approving a submitted application or petition.
Calendar Year The normal January to December year. See also, Fiscal, Academic years.
Cap, H-1 The limitation on the number of H-1 approvals that can be issued by USCIS each year. When this cap is reached, no more H-1 approvals are forthcoming. Educational institutions (such as Stanford) are excluded from this 'cap.'
Citizen, US  With very few exceptions, anyone who was born on US soil. Also anyone who is "naturalized." Citizenship can be derived from parents/ancestors as well, regardless of place of birth.
Denial  A Notice of Action generated by the USCIS denying a submitted application or petition.
Department of Labor  The Executive Branch Department with jurisdiction over working conditions. For our purposes, generates the LCA
Department of State; also State Department, DoS, "State." The Executive Branch Department with jurisdiction over non-domestic issues
Dependent The spouse or children of a principal.
DS2019 A State Department Certificate issued by sponsoring institutions such as Stanford under DoS approval. Can be used by students and postdoctoral scholars for a relatively wide variety of activities, although sponsors usually are authorized for only a few. Students are allowed to remain as long as is needed to finish a degree program. Research scholars and Professors may remain five years. Short-term scholars are allowed only six months. 
DSO Designated School Official, an individual authorized to sign an I-20.
EAC See WAC Number
EAD Employment Authorization Document; a card issued by USCIS to certain applicants who have requested work authorization. In size and format it resembles a driver's license.
EDD California's Employment Development Department. For Stanford University purposes, provides a "prevailing wage" for the H-1 program.
Employment Authorization Document  See EAD
Employment-Based Petition  Any form and supporting documentation that is filed on behalf of an individual who will benefit from an affirmative decision. Submitted to the USCIS for that agency's adjudication. For an exception, see "Self-Sponsored Petition."
Entry Visa Entry visas are the labels that State Department personnel apply to the page of a passport. They represent the State Department's belief that the person is eligible to enter the US to pursue a particular activity. There is a nonimmigrant classification defined by an entry visa to comprehend many activities. Entry visas may have a limited validity, depending upon the holder's country of citizenship. Citizens of Canada, Canadian landed immigrants with a Commonwealth nationality and residents of some British territories (principally Bermuda) are (largely) exempt from the entry visa requirement. An expired entry visa does not affect a holder's ability to remain in the US; only the I-94 card does. This is because the entry visa is only an authorization for an individual to present him or herself to an USCIS officer at a port of entry (such as an airport) for consideration of admission. The USCIS determines how long an individual may remain in the US. An expired entry visa means that the holder must get a new one before trying to come back in to the US again in the status indicated on the visa label. There are some exceptions to this. See also "Visa."
Fiscal Year For USCIS purposes, the US government fiscal year that begins on October 1 and ends on September 30. See also "Academic, Calendar Year."
Green Card  The document issued by USCIS to permanent residents as evidence of their status. Is not green, but rather resembles a driver's license in size and format.
I-129 Form on which employers submit a variety of employment-based petitions to the USCIS. In Stanford's case, the Bechtel International Center fills it out.
I-130  USCIS form on which individuals petition the BCIS to allow their relatives to become permanent residents.
I-140 USCIS form on which employment-based petitions are filed. For Stanford University, the Bechtel International Center fills it out.
I-20 A document issued by a school to a nonimmigrant student. Used to obtain an F-1 entry visa, for admission to the US and subsequently for the DSO to make recommendations and grant authorizations.
I-539  An USCIS form on which an applicant can request an extension of his or her nonimmigrant stay. Used a lot for dependents who need to change in concert with a principal who is making a change from one type of nonimmigrant classification to temporary employment. Note that the principal applicant does not fill out an I-539 him or herself to make such a change for a dependent!
I-551 USCIS form number for the Green Card.
I-797 The form number USCIS assigned to its "Notice of Action." Varies slightly depending upon the type of Action taken, and can include a new I-94 card if generated in response to an extension of stay or change of status.
I-94 ~3 x 4 inch white card usually stapled into an individual's passport when s/he is admitted to the US by the USCIS. USCIS inspectors must enter the classification in which the individual is admitted, and the date to which s/he may remain in the US, or D/S (duration of status) in the case of F-1 or J-1 nonimmigrants. Also may take the form of a tear-off portion of the bottom of an I-797 Notice of Action when USCIS grants an extension of stay or change of status. I-94s are routinely collected by airline personnel as nonimmigrants depart the US, but technically one is entitled to retain the card if going to "contiguous territories" (Canada or Mexico) or Caribbean islands (excluding Cuba) for less than 30 days.
DS-2019 See DS2019
Immigrant See "Permanent Resident."
Labor Condition Application See "LCA"
LCA Labor Condition Application submitted by Bechtel International Center to the US Department of Labor for the purpose of Stanford's federal compliance as paying a particular wage to a particular H-1 employee or group of employees.
LIN  See WAC Number
National, US A non-US citizen who holds allegiance to the US is not considered an alien. For practical purposes, this describes a few people who live on some islands in the South Pacific.
Nonimmigrant An alien who has been admitted by the USCIS for a specific purpose for a definite period of time.
Notice of Action Issued by the USCIS after that agency's adjudication of a petition or application. Also issued as a receipt for fees tendered.
Permanent Resident An alien the USCIS has given the right to remain in the US permanently. Also known as "immigrant."
Practical Training  A period of work authorization granted subsequent to an F-1 student's completing a degree program. USCIS approves and issues an EAD card.
Prevailing Wage The wage provided by EDD after we submit a Prevailing Wage Determination Request. This is a benchmark wage the University must meet for H-1 application purposes.
Principal As opposed to dependent, the primary person holding a nonimmigrant classification. H-1, for example, is a principal classification; H-4 is the dependent. Dependents cannot hold their classifications independently of the principal. Dependents are defined as spouse and children; does NOT include parents, cousins, siblings, etc.
Receipt Notice A Notice of Action evidencing USCIS' receipt of fees tendered. Also bears "WAC" number.
Self-Sponsored Petition An Employment-Based Petition filed by an individual in his or her own behalf. In this case, the petitioner is the beneficiary.
SRC See WAC Number
Status The nonimmigrant classification granted by the USCIS to an individual who has presented him or herself to the BCIS at a port of entry, or who has subsequently requested a change of status. See also "Visa"
Transfer Nomenclature associated with the J-1 exchange visitor program. There are procedures for transferring J-1 exchange visitors from the sponsorship of one institution to another. Employment-based nonimmigrants such as H-1 and O-1 cannot transfer between institutions. A move like this requires that a new petition be filed by the "receiving" institution.
Two-Year Rule Also known as the two-year-residence requirement, this is a restriction applied to certain J-1 exchange visitors who meet conditions defined by the State Department. The conditions have to do with funding, country of origin or type of activity undertaken while in J-1 status, and the restriction prevents these visitors from changing status within the US. It also prevents them from securing entry visas in the H-1, L-1 or immigrant categories.
 USCIS US Citizenship and Immigration Services. Under the auspices of the Dept of Homeland Security.
Visa A term used almost always incorrectly. Correctly, a security-printed label or "foil" applied by the State Department to the page of a passport belonging to someone who wishes to enter the US for a particular purpose identified by an alphanumeric code (e.g. H-1). We use the term "entry visa" to distinguish this item from the conventional usage. This can include the I-797 Notice of Action/Approval, an I-94 card or the status an individual claims for him/herself. See also "Entry Visa."
WAC Number used to identify an applicant or petitioner's place in the USCIS fee receipt and case tracking system. WAC is the acronymic artifact of the Western Adjudication Center, now known as the California Service Center. The alphanumeric identifier is ten digits in the format WAC-NN-NNN-NNNNN. The first two digits are the current fiscal year, the second three digits are the sequentially-numbered working day of the fiscal year (known as the "Julian date") on which the case was originally receipted, and the final five digits are a serial number (which always begins with "5"). There are three other USCIS Regional Service Centers, in Lincoln, NE (LIN); Irving, TX (SRC); and St. Albans, VT (EAC).

 

Top of page

© Stanford University. All Rights Reserved. Stanford, CA 94305. (650) 723-2300. Terms of Use | Copyright Complaints