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Immigration Glossary



On December 21, 2000, the President signed a bill entitled the Legal Immigration Family Equity (LIFE) Act into law. A part of the LIFE Act is the amendment of Section 245(i) of the Immigration and Nationality Act. The original Section 245(i) was enacted in 1994 and allowed aliens who were out of status, entered the U.S. without inspection, or violated the terms of their non-immigrant status to file an adjustment of status if they were beneficiaries of immigration petitions or labor certification applications filed by January 14, 1998. Without the LIFE Act, an alien who missed the 01/14/98 deadline could not adjust his/her status if he or she was out of status, entered the U.S. without inspection, or violated the terms of non-immigrant status. The new LIFE Act amendment extended the deadline to April 30, 2001. See our site for more information about 245(i).


‘A’ Number

The alien registration number is assigned by the Department of Homeland Security to each alien. It is an "A" followed by eight numbers.   For example: A12 345 678.  Some recently-issued A numbers consist of an "A" followed by nine digits. For example: A 200 345 678.

‘A’ Visa (Diplomats)

‘A’ visas are used for ambassadors, diplomats, consular officers, and their immediate family. Diplomatic applicants must meet specific requirements to qualify for the diplomatic visa under immigration law. The consular officer will determine whether you qualify for the visa. For an A-1 or A-2 visa, you must be traveling to the United States on behalf of your national government to engage solely in official activities for that government. Please note that government interest or control in a given organization is not in itself the defining factor in determining if you qualify for an A visa; the particular duties or services that will be performed must be governmental in character or nature, as determined by the United States Department of State, in accordance with U.S. immigration laws. The subcategories for A visas are:

  • A-1: Ambassador, diplomat or consular officer and their immediate family
  • A-2: Other foreign government officials and their immediate family
  • A-3: Personal attendant or employee and their immediate family

Please note that foreign officials who are traveling to the United States on official business must obtain an A visa prior to their entry—exceptions to this rule are extremely limited.

AAO (Administrative Appeals Office)

AAO stands for the Administrative Appeals Office of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and can also be referred to as the Administrative Appeals Unit/AAU). The AAO is responsible for adjudicating appeals to immigration decisions. The Administrative Appeals Office reviews decisions made by USCIS adjudications officers regarding immigration petitions and applications and upholds consistency and accuracy regarding the interpretation of immigration laws, regulations and policies. An “appeal” is a request for an office independent of the original deciding office to review a denial decision due to incorrectly applied immigration laws or a missed or misinterpreted pertinent fact(s) of a particular case. AAO presently has jurisdiction concerning USCIS decisions on: a) bond breaches; b) I-140 preference petitions except the denial of the petition based on the lack of a labor certification; c) Indochinese applications for adjustment of status; d) revoking approved petitions; e) revoking non-immigrant petitions; f) petitions for temporary workers or I-129(h)trainees, etc. The AAO reviews decisions made by USCIS adjudicating officers on petitions and applications for immigration benefits, and, when necessary, recommends the publication of precedent decisions to clarify adjudication issues. Average AAO processing times for different types of appeals can be viewed at the USCIS website. For more information, please click The Administrative Appeals Office (AAO) and Appeals.

Abuse of Discretion

Abuse of discretion is constituted by a failure to take into proper consideration the facts and law relating to a particular matter or an arbitrary or unreasonable departure from precedent and settled judicial custom. Abuse of discretion can involve: (1) a decision made without a rational explanation; (2) an inexplicable departure from prior precedent; (3) departure from regulations; (4) failure to consider all relevant factors; (5) consideration of irrelevant factors; and, (6) a failure to exercise discretion. Regarding motions to reopen, the Supreme Court and the lower federal courts traditionally give great deference the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) determinations.


Please see American Competitiveness in the 21st Century Act.

Academic Student

Academic students can be eligible for an F-1 visa, which is a non-immigrant visa issued by a U.S. Consulate, to an alien student who is pursuing full-time studies in a US academic institution. An alien who is going to be a full-time academic student in a college, university, seminar, conservatory, private academic high school, other academic institution, or language training program, or other academic institution in the U.S. may apply for an F-1 visa with a U.S. consulate abroad. Generally, the U.S. consular officer holds total discretion over whether to grant the visa or not. An alien academic student may be eligible to apply for an F-1 visa at a consulate abroad if he or she meets the following conditions:

  • The alien must have a residence in a foreign country which he/she has no intention of abandoning;
  • The alien must be a bona fide student qualified to pursue a full course of study in an approved academic institution, including but not limited to, colleges, universities, seminaries, music schools, academic high schools, private elementary schools and language schools;
  • The alien must seek to enter the United States temporarily and solely for the purpose of pursuing such a course of study.

The law does not allow an alien student (F-1) to attend public elementary school, but a student may attend public secondary school, with certain restrictions. For more information about Academic Student visas, see our page on F-1 status.


“Accompanying” entails entering the U.S. as a long-term permanent resident with a principal beneficiary or within 6 months of the principal beneficiary’s entry into the U.S. or appearance at a consulate for a chargeability request. If the principal applicant has:

  • adjusted status or obtained an immigrant visa through a preference category (family or employment based) or diversity lottery;
  • married or had children before becoming a permanent resident and the relationship is intact at the time of his/her spouse or children’s filing for adjustment of status or consular processing;
  • and the spouse and children are qualified as derivative beneficiaries of the principal applicant

then those intending on “accompanying” can file I-485 adjustment of status or consular processing based on “accompanying” the principal, rather than through family-based immigration petitions. Such derivative immigration benefits will enable them to receive permanent residency quickly.

Acquired Citizenship

Acquired citizenship is citizenship conferred at birth on children born abroad to a U.S. citizen parent or parents. Please see our Citizenship by Birth page for more information.

Adjustment of Status

Adjustment of Status” (Form I-485) refers to the procedure for becoming a lawful permanent resident without having to leave the United States. Adjustment of Status is an application filed by an alien who is physically in the United States to adjust his or her non-immigrant status to immigrant status, i.e. permanent resident status. Applying for adjustment of status signifies that the alien has reached the final step in getting a Green Card. Once the application is approved, the alien gains permanent resident status in the United States. In addition, there are two major benefits to applying for an I-485: while an I-485 application is pending, an alien may simultaneously apply for (1) Advance Parole, and (2) an EAD Work Permit.

Administrative Closure

Administrative closure is a process wherein a case is temporarily removed from the immigration court’s docket but the case remains pending, though inactive. Traditionally, an Immigration Judge could not order administrative closure without the consent of both parties, but consent of both parties did not mean that an Immigration Judge would order administrative closure. Notably, on January 31, 2012, the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) published an important decision regarding “administrative closure” decisions. Significantly, the BIA offered new legal standards for determining whether administrative closure is appropriate in a removal case. Specifically, the BIA stated that: “[A]n Immigration Judge or the Board should weigh all relevant factors, including but not limited to: (1) the reason administrative closure is sought; (2) the basis for any opposition to administrative closure; (3) the likelihood the respondent will succeed on any petition, application, or other action he or she is pursuing outside of removal proceedings; (4) the anticipated duration of the closure; (5) the responsibility of either party, if any, in contributing to any current or anticipated delay; and (6) the ultimate outcome of removal proceedings (for example, termination of the proceedings or entry of a removal order) when the case is re-calendared before the Immigration Judge or the appeal is reinstated before the Board.” The BIA also concluded that the Immigration Court and the BIA may administratively close cases even when a party opposes it, overruling its own precedent set in Matter of Gutierrez, 21 I&N Dec. 479 (BIA 1996).

Administrative Notice

Administrative notice, also called official notice, is the means by which agencies make factual findings without the benefit of the adversarial presentation of evidence. Administrative notice is an exception to the requirement that decisions be based solely upon evidence adduced at a hearing. Under the Department of Justice regulations, the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) may take “administrative notice” of “commonly known facts such as current events or the contents of official documents.” See 8 C.F.R. §1003.1(d)(3)iv). Official documents include “country condition reports prepared by the Department of State, including its foreign policy expertise, analysis and opinion.” 67 Fed. Reg. 54892 (Aug. 26, 2002). However, the BIA is not required to take administrative notice.

Administrative Review

Administrative review of appeals to immigration decisions are overseen by the U.S. Department of Justice through the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) which directs the U.S. immigration courts and administrative appeals system. Generally, appeals of family-based visa petitions are under the jurisdiction of the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) and all others are under the jurisdiction of the USCIS Administrative Appeals Office (AAO). USCIS decisions regarding employment-based immigrant applications and nonimmigrant temporary visa petitions may be appealed to the AAO and AAO decisions may be appealed to the federal district courts. All other types of USCIS petitions may be appealed directly to the BIA, and BIA decisions may in turn be appealed to the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that has jurisdiction over the state in which the foreign national resides. However, there are statutory limitations on the types of immigration appeals that the Courts may accept. The federal district courts have limited jurisdiction over removal cases and instead review petitions for writs of habeas corpus, naturalization denials, appeals of AAO decisions, and employer sanction/worksite enforcement cases both criminal and civil. Review of State Department decisions on overseas visa applications is extremely limited and the courts have generally refused to take jurisdiction over these types of cases.


Admission is when an alien is allowed into the country with a nonimmigrant or immigrant status following USCIS inspection at a port of entry. For nonimmigrant status, an I-94 card will be issued to indicate, among other things, the authorized status and the expiration date of authorized status. For admitted aliens, the USCIS inspector will put an entry stamp on his/her passport to indicate his permanent resident status. See our articles for more information on inspection and entrance.

Adopted Child

An adopted child may enjoy immigration benefits based on the adoption if: a) the adoption occurs prior to the child's 16th birthday; b) the adoptive parent(s) have had legal custody of the child for two years (before or after the adoption); and c) the child had resided with the adoptive parent(s) for two years (before or after the adoption). If the alien child is adopted in the U.S. before the child's 16th birthday, there is no problem to establish the relationship between the adoptive parent(s) and the child. If the adoption is outside the U.S. while full legal papers are available, there should be no problem in establishing the relationship between the adoptive parent(s) and the child. However, an adoption unaccompanied by legal papers, such as a common law adoption, may present a problem in establishing the relationship between the adoptive parent(s) and the child. For further information, please see our page on Adoption.

Advance Parole

Advance Parole is a document that allows certain aliens to re-enter the United States after traveling abroad without an immigrant visa or non-immigrant visa. Such aliens must be granted Advance Parole before leaving the United States. The use of advance parole preserves an I-485 Adjustment of Status petition when leaving the country. If an alien has not obtained advance parole prior to traveling abroad, they may not be permitted to re-enter the United States upon their return without obtaining some kind of visa. Please see our site for more information about Advance Parole.

Advance Processing of Orphan Adoption

To bring an adopted orphan into the United States quickly, an eligible U.S. citizen may apply for advance processing before he/she actually finds an orphan to adopt. An application for advance processing may be filed by anyone eligible to file an orphan petition. Eligible USCs include married couples and unmarried U.S. citizens who file an application for advance processing who will be at least 25 years old when an orphan petition is filed on behalf of an actual child and when the child is adopted. Before the applicant identifies a foreign-born child to adopt, he or she may file a Form I-600A (Application for Advance Processing of Orphan Petition), which allows the USCIS to first process the application that relates to the applicant's ability to provide a proper home environment and his or her suitability as a parent. Once an orphan is identified, the applicant must file a Form I-600 (Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative) on behalf of the adopted child. For details of orphan adoption and immigration, please click Adoption Abroad.

Advanced Degrees

An advanced degree is defined as a degree higher than a United States bachelor’s degree. In practice, this means at least a master’s degree or its foreign academic equivalent. For visa statuses that require an advanced degree, a BA/BS plus 5 years of progressive experience in the specialty job area is considered substantially equivalent. Advanced degrees are important when determining qualification for certain immigration processes, such as EB-2 immigration applications, and H-1B visa applications under the H-1B “advanced degree cap.” Documentation, such as an official academic record showing the conferral of a U.S. advanced degree or a foreign equivalent degree, is required. Alternatively, an official academic record showing the conferral of a bachelor’s degree or its foreign equivalent and letters from current or former employers documenting at least 5 years of progressive post-baccalaureate work experience in a specialty will meet the documentation requirement.You can visit our website H-1B “Advanced Degree” Cap visas for more information.

Advisory Opinions (Department of State)

An Advisory Opinion is a non-legally-binding opinion regarding a point of law from the Office of Visa Services in the Department of State, Washington, D.C. In terms of immigration, an Advisory Opinion often concerns the two-year home-country physical presence requirement to which J-1 visa holders are subject. An Advisory Opinion is a review of your exchange visitor program documents to determine if you are subject to this requirement. If you are unsure as to the applicability of that requirement to your case, request an Advisory Opinion; ultimately, the USCIS has the final say in the matter. To request an Advisory Opinion, send a written request to the Waiver Review Division of USCIS. For more information on advisory opinions and the J-1 two-year home country requirement, please see our J-1 Visa: “2 Year Rule” FAQ.

Affidavit of Support (I-134)

The purpose of an affidavit of support is to show that nonimmigrant visa applicants have sponsorship and will not become public charges while in the United States. The sponsor must file a separate affidavit for each applicant. The Form I-134 is used for nonimmigrant cases, even though the beneficiary will be coming to the U.S. permanently. A consular officer can also ask for an I-134 if he or she has a concern about the ability of the nonimmigrant applicant to pay for their intended stay in the U.S.

Affidavit of Support (I-864)

The Form I-864 Affidavit of Support is a legally enforceable contract between the sponsor of an immigrant and the United States government. The contract exists from the time the alien is granted Legal Permanent Resident status for up to ten years, until the immigrant becomes a citizen, or the immigrant completes forty qualifying quarters, whichever period is shorter. If at any point during the enforceable period, however, the immigrant receives means-tested public benefits, the sponsor can be sued by a federal, state, or local government agency for reimbursement. The Form I-864 is required for all family-based immigrants, as well as some employment-based immigrant cases. The Form I-864 is used when the beneficiary is filing for adjustment of status in the US or obtaining an immigrant visa at a U.S. consulate overseas. For an I-864, the sponsor must be a US citizen, naturalized citizen, or legal permanent resident. The sponsor must also be at least 18 years old and reside in the U.S. or in a U.S. territory. Derivative beneficiaries can use a cosponsor if necessary.Please visit our website to learn more about Affidavits of Support (I-864).

Affirmance Without Opinion

The Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) can issue an “affirmance without opinion,” stating simply that it affirms an immigration judge's decision without an opinion. An order affirming without opinion shall not include further explanation or reasoning. Such an order approves the result reached in a particular decision; it does not necessarily imply approval of all of the reasoning of that decision, but does signify the BIA's conclusion that any errors in the decision of the immigration judge or the USCIS were harmless or nonmaterial. According to 8 C.F.R. §1003.1(e), the Board member to whom a case is assigned shall affirm the decision of the USCIS or the immigration judge without opinion if the Board member determines that the result reached in the decision under review was correct; that any errors in the decision under review were harmless or nonmaterial; and that (A) The issues on appeal are squarely controlled by existing BIA or federal court precedent and do not involve the application of precedent to a novel factual situation; or (B) The factual and legal issues raised on appeal are not so substantial that the case warrants the issuance of a written opinion in the case.

Age Discrimination in Employment Act

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) of 1967 forbids employment discrimination against anyone at least 40 years of age in the United States. In regards to immigration, the ADEA “in general protects noncitizens of the United States from unlawful discrimination,” which includes age discrimination (see O’Loughlin v. Pritchard Corp., 972 F. Supp. 1352, 1363-64 (D. Kan. 1997)).

Age Out

"Age Out" arises in a situation in which a person applies for adjustment of status, consular processing, or naturalization as a "child" and turns 21 years of age during the application process. Since a child is defined in immigration law as an unmarried person under 21, aging out makes that person ineligible for any immigration benefits reserved for children. In many instances, alien children are eligible for immigration benefits if they are the child of U.S. citizen or permanent resident, the child of a beneficiary to an immigrant petition, or the child as a derivative beneficiary of the parent's employment based immigration. In accordance with previous immigration laws, in these situations, children who turn 21 before their applications for adjustment of status or applications for immigration visa are adjudicated are "Aging Out", and they lose their eligibility for a green card. However, the "Child Status Protection Act" (CSPA) changes the scenarios of "Age Out" in order to prevent these children applicants from "aging out" under certain circumstances. See our site for more information about "Age Out".


An agent is a person or entity who can file certain types of petitions on behalf of an alien beneficiary. For example, an agent can petition for an O-1 visa for an alien beneficiary. Regarding O-1 visas, a U.S. Agent may be the actual employer of the beneficiary, the representative of both the employer and the beneficiary, or a person or entity authorized by the employer to act for, or in place of, the employer as its agent. An agent must meet certain requirements to act as an agent petitioning on behalf of an alien beneficiary.
Aggravated Felon
A person who is convicted of an aggravated felony at any time after admission into the United States is subject to deportation. This applies to lawful permanent residents after adjustment of status even if the person never left the U.S. Any crime of violence involving force or any other felony involving a threat that force may be used for which the imprisonment term is at least 1 year is an aggravated felony. An offense that under a state law is a misdemeanor might be an aggravated felony under federal law. The Senate’s Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2006 and The House’s Border Protection, Antiterrorism, and Illegal Immigration Control Act of 2005 (see here for more information) both expanded the definition of an aggravated felony. For example, illegal entry or reentry crimes or a third drunk driving offense with a sentence of one year or more areall considered aggravated felonies for the purposes of immigration law.

Agricultural Worker

Please see Farm Worker

Aiding and Abetting

Aiding and abetting, under United States criminal law, applies to instances where it cannot be shown that a party personally carried out a criminal offense, but where another person may have carried out the illegal act(s) as an agent for, worked together with, or acted under the direction of the charged party who is an accessory to the crime. Notably, in regards to immigration law, a person who at any time knowingly has encouraged, induced, assisted, abetted, or aided any other alien to enter or try to enter the U.S. in violation of law is generally ineligible for admission into the U.S.


HIV infection no longer makes an alien inadmissible, nor does it preclude the immigration of an HIV-positive spouse or child of a principal immigrant. This follows the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)’s Nov. 2, 2009 publication of a final rule in the Federal Register removing Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) infection from the list of illnesses that make a foreign national inadmissible. This rule took effect on Jan 4, 2010. As of Jan. 4, 2010 having HIV infection no longer makes a foreign national inadmissible to the United States. On or after Jan. 4, 2010, all cases that were held because of HIV infection will be adjudicated according to the new rule.


American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) is a professional organization for immigration lawyers in America. Zhang & Associates, P.C. is an AILA member. Please visit the AILA Website for more information.


An alien is any person not a citizen or national of the United States.

Alien of Extraordinary Ability

Please see EB-1(a) for more information.

Alien Registration Receipt Card (I-551)

Commonly known as a Green Card,” an "Alien Registration Receipt Card," Form I-551 was the name previously given for what is now called the "Permanent Resident Card." The renaming became effective on January 20, 1999. To facilitate the name change, this final rule allowed the USCIS to continue using both valid versions of the Form I-551 (titled "Alien Registration Receipt Card") while using and referring to the new generation of the Form I-551 as the "Permanent Resident Card." This was a change in name only and did not alter any of the USCIS’s policies or procedures. Green Cards last indefinitely if received before January 20, 1999 or must be renewed every 10 years if it is received after this date.

American Competitiveness in the 21st Century Act (AC21)

The American Competitiveness in the 21 Century Act, or AC21, was enacted in October 2000. AC21 provides, among other things, a portability rule that applies to H-1B nonimmigrant petition as well as employment-based immigrant petitions. First, H-1B portability allows certain current H-1B workers to begin work for the new employer upon filing the petition, rather than waiting for approval; Second, it also allows current H-1B workers to extend their H-1B status beyond 6 years if the I-140 or I-485 is pending and he or she started the employment-based immigration petition(s) a year prior; Third, it allows the USCIS to approve the I-485 for a new employer if a job opportunity is similar and the I-485 has been pending for at least 180 days.


Appeal is the official process of requesting that a case be reviewed again if the application or petition is denied. An appeal may be an administrative appeal, for example, to the Administrative Appeals Office of USCIS, to the Board of Immigration Appeals, or the Board of Alien Labor Certification Appeals in PERM cases. An appeal can also occur in a case being litigated in a court. Please click EAD Appeal for more details about Employment Authorization Document appeals.


For immigration law purposes, an application is the formal request or the act of submitting the formal request filed by a person on his or her own behalf. For details on the application for a nonimmigrant visa or status, please click Non-immigrant Visa. For details of application of immigrant visas or status, please click Immigration Petition.

Application Support Center

USCIS offices fingerprint applicants for immigration benefits. Some USCIS applications, such as the Application for Naturalization or the Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, require the USCIS to conduct a FBI fingerprint background check on the applicant. Most applicants that require a background check will be scheduled to appear at a specific Application Support Center (ASC) or Designated Law Enforcement Agency (DLEA) for fingerprinting.

Approval Notice

A USCIS approval notice informs the applicant or petitioner of the approval of the application or petition. The Approval Notice is an I-797 Notice of Action (an I-797 can be a Receipt Notice, a Request for Evidence (RFE), or an Approval Notice—the I-797 will state the type of notice). Effective Sept. 12, 2011, USCIS began sending original I-797 receipt and approval notices directly to applicants and petitioners. Copies of the notices are still sent to attorneys or accredited representatives, if a Form G-28, Notice of Entry of Appearance as Attorney or Accredited Representative, is on file. Previously, the original notice had been sent to the attorney or accredited representative’s address listed on the Form G-28, while a copy was sent to the address provided by the applicant or petitioner in the applicable application or petition form.

Arriving Aliens

According to 8 C.F.R. § 1.1(q), arriving aliens by definition include “applicants for admission coming or attempting to come into the United States at a port-of-entry, an alien seeking transit through the United States at a port-of-entry, or an alien interdicted in international or United States waters and brought into the United States by any means, whether or not to a designated port-of-entry, and regardless of the means of transport.” An arriving alien remains an arriving alien even if paroled pursuant to section 212(d)(5) of the Act and even after any such parole is terminated or revoked. However, an arriving alien who was paroled into the United States before April 1, 1997 or who applied for and obtained advance parole in the United States prior to the alien's departure from and return to the United States will not be treated as an arriving alien. Notably, an arriving alien’s voluntary retraction of an application for admission to the United States can be made in lieu of a removal hearing before an immigration judge or an expedited removal. Withdrawals are not included in nonimmigrant admission data. Arriving aliens also do not have the right to due process.


Asylum is relief for an alien to remain in the United States under legal status because he or she has suffered past persecution or has well-founded fear of future persecution in his or her home country or country of last habitual residence. For the purposes of asylum, persecution is based on race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular social group.

An alien who is granted Asylum takes on the legal status of Asylee. This allows him or her to reside in the United States indefinitely as long as the threat of persecution continues. The Asylee can also have his or her spouse and unmarried children under age 21 enter the U.S., if not already in the country. For details of Asylum, please click Asylum.

Attorney-Client Privilege

Attorney-client privilege is a legal concept that protects both the client and the attorney. Under attorney-client privilege, certain communications between a client and his or her attorney are kept confidential to protect both parties from being compelled to disclose confidential communications made for the purpose of furnishing or obtaining legal advice or assistance. Unless an attorney is court-ordered, privilege is owned by the client. In some cases, an argument of disagreement can dissolve the attorney-client privilege.

Attorney General Review of BIA

BIA decisions are binding on all Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officers and immigration judges unless modified or overruled by the Attorney General or a federal court.The Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) is part of the Executive Office for Immigration Review and is authorized to review most decisions of Immigration Judges and some types of decisions of Department of Homeland Security officers. The BIA is directed to exercise its independent judgment in hearing appeals for the Attorney General. For more information, please see the BIA’s website.


An attorney, officially known as an attorney at law, is the official name for a licensed lawyer in the United States. An attorney in the United States is legally qualified and licensed to serve as a practitioner in a court of law and prosecute and defend actions in such courts on the retainer of clients.

Attorney’s Fees

Attorney fees are the fees charged by the law firm for our professional services. Different attorney fees are charged according to the type of case. The initial attorney fee is due upon submission of your signed retainer agreement to us. Fees due upon approval (if applicable) are paid when a milestone in case processing is achieved as stated in the retainer agreement. The fees range in price due to the complexity of the issue or length of process time and work involved. Keep in mind that these fees are estimates, and that fees may vary depending on the difficulty and specific facts of each individual case. See our site for more information about Attorney Fees for detailed descriptions.

Au Pair Program

The au pair program is a Department of State J-1 cultural exchange program that provides exchange visitors between 18 and 26 years old the chance to participate in the home life of a U.S. host family. All au pair participants provide child care services to the host family and attend a U.S. post-secondary educational institution. Effective as of July 10, 2006, the DOS ruled to change existing au pair regulations. The changes permit au pair sponsors to request a one-time extension of six, nine, or 12 months beyond an au pair participant's original 12-month period of program participation. Aliens participating in an Au Pair Program are not subject to the 2 year rule since they do not receive specialized training. See our site for more information about J-1 visas.


In the PERM labor certification process, an audit is the process through which documentation in support of a filed PERM petition is requested. When filing a PERM petition (ETA Form 9089) no physical documentation of the recruiting process is initially submitted. An audit is a request by a Certifying Officer (CO) that such documentation be provided for review in support of a filed PERM petition. The Certifying Officer (CO) at the PERM Processing Center can request an audit of any permanent labor certification application, if he or she finds the application suspicious either in its content, recruitment activities, or the authenticity of the job opportunity. The CO can also randomly select PERM applications for auditing to check the integrity of the Employer's PERM file. Please see our site for more details about PERM audits.
[chance of getting denied much higher since there’s higher exposure. Can’t withdraw  if you submit the evidence, must respond]

Authorized Stay

Authorized stay is the period during which an alien can lawfully stay in the United States based on his or her nonimmigrant status. This information is obtained when entering the U.S. and is displayed on a nonimmigrant’s Form I-94. A timely filed extension of status or change of status application will continue the alien’s period of authorized stay in the U.S. while the application is pending. This allows the alien to avoid accruing unlawful presence, but does not extend the alien’s original period of authorized nonimmigrant status. The USCIS recommends that an extension or change of status application be filed at least 45 days before an alien’s period of authorized stay expires. Please see our Non-Immigrant Visa page for more details.


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