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Guide for INS Terms

The letters INS stand for Immigration and Naturalization Service. This is a United States government agency that is designed to assist immigrants when applying for US citizenship. If you or someone you know is interested in becoming a citizen of the United States, there are many different terms that are used in the application process. Understanding these terms and knowing what they mean can be a big help when it is time to apply. It can also assist you in speeding up the process, and getting your application through the system in a more efficient way. Here are thirty common terms used by the INS, and some that you may see on your application or hear when talking to an INS agent.

Admission: This term refers to the lawful entry of a person into the United States after the proper review by an immigration officer.

Alien: A term used to describe a person who is in the United States and is not currently a citizen.

Alien Registration Number: A seven to eight digit number used to help identify aliens.

Board of Immigration Appeals: A part of the executive office of the US designated to review immigration decisions made by judges.

Border Crossing: Refers to the people who enter the United States from either the Canadian or Mexican border, usually illegally or if they stay for no longer than six months with a legal passport.

Cancellation of Removal: Description of an immigrant who has resided in the United States for a period of five to seven years and has not been convicted of any felonies, or someone who has lived in the United States less than ten years who has not been convicted of a variety of offenses and has shown evidence that their removal would have a negative effect on their parents, spouse, or child(ren).

Deportable Alien: An alien who has violated the terms of their entry into the United States by violating the terms of their immigration status.

Employer Verification:When an employer verified the citizenship status of its employee under the statute of the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986. Employers must submit an I-9 form for all employees.

Extension: An application filed by immigrants to request their ability to stay within the United States for a length of time temporarily.

Files Control Office: A field office or suboffice of a district where immigration files are kept and maintained.

Green Card: A term considered slang for the Alien Registration Receipt Card, which is actually not typically green in color.

Immigrant: A person seeking entry into the United States who is from a different country or nation.

Migrant: This term defines a person who leaves their country in order to obtain residence in a different country.

Naturalization: Giving someone nationality status after their birth, however this does not automatically grant citizenship.

Passport: A document used to obtain entry into another country that includes the person's name, date of birth, photograph, and country of origin.

Port of Entry: A place deemed by the Commissioner of Naturalization and Immigration where an alien can apply for admission to the United States.

Refugee: This term describes a person who is unable to return to their home land for fear of persecution because of their political opinion, sex, race, or nationality.

Resettlement: A permanent relocation of a refugee letting him or her establish permanent residence in another country.

Residence: The place of a person's home and/or address, regardless of their legal status as a citizen.

Sponsor: A person who has offered an affidavit on behalf of an alien.

Temporary Worker: Status of an immigrant or alien who has come to the United States to work for a limited period of time.

Transit Alien: An alien who remains in transit in the United States either with a visa or without one. There are certain stipulations that must be met.

Visa: A document showing permission by a federal authority to allow a person to work and stay in a country other than the person's original nationality.

Withdrawal: An alien who voluntarily retracts his or her application to be admitted into the United States pending a hearing.

Work Permit: A document showing a person is allowed to work in the United States, however, there are several different types of this form used by various organizations.

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