Definition of Terms

  • U.S. Citizenship: Obtained by birth (jus soli, which is contained in the 14th Amendment), or by naturalization (legal process to obtain citizenship administered through USCIS). Some in the U.S. are currently arguing to do away with “birthright” citizenship.
  • Legal Permanent Resident (LPR): Obtained through family, employment, refugee, VAWA, or asylum status. You canlive and work in the United States, travel, and be protected by all laws of the United States. LPR status is granted for 10 years; it is renewable and LPRs can apply for citizenship after continuous residence in the United States for 5 years. ALPR holds a “green card.”
  • H1B visa: non immigrant employment-based visa. Temporary.
  • Student visa: an “F-1” visa that permits international students to study in the U.S. (usually valid for 5 yrs. or the duration of their studies). F-1 students may not work off campus their 1st year; after that, they may hold limited types of employment. Must be full-time student, in a course of studies that culminates in a degree or certificate.
  • OPT program: “Optional Practical Training”: permits F-1 holders to work inemployment” directly related to major area of study” during education or immediately afterward. Time limited.
  • Asylum: Status is granted to applicants already residing in the United States who can prove they have suffered persecution based on race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group. Those with asylum can work lawfully, travel, and adjust status to LPR after one year of having asylum status.
  • Temporary Protected Status (TPS): Individuals from TPS-designated countries can apply for TPS due to conditions in the country that temporarily prevent the country’s nationals from returning safely, or in certain circumstances, when the country is unable to handle the return of its nationals adequately.TPS allows people to apply for employment authorization during the time they hold TPS. TPS is not a legal statusand therefore they cannot adjust status to lawful legal residence (with few exceptions), nor can they travel internationally.
  • DACA: Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, implemented by President Obama in 2012, protects eligible applicants from deportation and grants work authorization for 2 years (SSN#). Some prefer the term “DACA-mented”.
  • Undocumented: Status referring to foreign-born people without legal permission to be in country; may have entered country legally (but visa/permit has since expired), may have entered country without legal documents. Human beings are not “illegal.”
  • Bridge Act: If DACA is repealed, there is a proposal in Congress to extend DACA for those already covered under the program; it is uncertain whether this legislation would pass
  • Mixed status families: families where family members have different immigration status. For example, parents may be undocumented, one child may have DACA, younger children may be U.S. citizens.
  • Undocu-ally: people who have “legal status” (eg: US citizens) butwho verbally and in actions take a stance of solidarity with the undocumented community.
  • Undocu-friendly: This term is used to refer to schools that have systems and practices in place that work with and for undocumented students.
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