TERMS USED in Immigration Matters
foreign national is admitted to the United States
once he or she has been (a) inspected (or interviewed) by an immigration
officer at a port-of-entry and (b) authorized to enter the United States
in a particular immigrant or nonimmigrant status.
Authorized Stay: A
person's authorized stay is the time during which he or she is permitted
to remain in the
Date of Hire: The date of hire is the date a person actually begins providing services or labor in exchange for wages or other remuneration. Thus, a person is "hired" (for purposes of completing a Form I-9) on the first day of work, not the day of acceptance of a job offer.
Documents Evidencing Employment Authorization: The INS issues a number of different documents to evidence employment authorization. These documents are INS Forms I-688, I-688A, I-688B, and I-766.
I-94 Cards: An
I-94 Arrival-Departure Card is probably the most important document a
foreign national holds while he or she is in the
Overdocumentation: Employers are prohibited from requesting "more or different" documents from employees for I-9 purposes. This means employers cannot (a) refuse documents simply because they want to see different documents (unless they have reason to believe that the documentation is fraudulent or does not apply to the employee in question), (b) ask to see specific documents, or (c) ask to see additional documents, such as by reviewing more than the minimum documents permitted for I-9 purposes: one List A document, or a combination of one List B document and one List C document. Employers who overdocument employees may be fined by the Office of Special Counsel. Fines range between $100 and $1000 for overdocumentation occurring before March 15, 1999, and between $110 and $1,100 for overdocumentation occurring on or after March 15, 1999.
person overstays when he or she remains in the United States
past the expiration of his or her authorized stay. A person who
has overstayed is also unlawfully present in the
A person who overstays by as little as one day must,
from that time on, obtain all visas from the U.S. Consulate at his or
her home country. The person will no longer be able to apply for a visa
in neighboring countries such as
Since 1996, a person who overstays more than six months is banned from returning to the U.S. for a period of three years once they leave the country. A person who overstays more than one year is banned for 10 years from returning to the U.S. These are horribly restrictive penalties imposed upon overstays and actually encourages people not to leave the U.S. but to remain in an illegal status for fear of not being able to return to their homes and families. There is a waiver available if extreme hardship can be shown to a U.S. citizen or lawful resident.
is a place where a foreign national may gain entry to the
Status: Foreign nationals can hold:
(1) immigrant status, which
means they intend to reside in the United
(2) nonimmigrant status, which means that they may reside in the United States only temporarily. Most nonimmigrant statuses are valid for less than seven years.
Unlawful Presence: A
person is unlawfully present in the United States
is he or she illegally entered the United States; or overstayed in the
If a person is unlawfully present in the
visa is a document issued by a