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This glossary is to help you better understand the information provided on this website. The terms described in it do not replace statutory, regulatory, or other definitions provided by law or Department of Homeland Security’s official policies and interpretations of law. Immigration law has a number of highly technical terms that may not mean the same thing to the average reader.

A number:

The alien registration number, which the Department of Homeland Security assigns 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.

Accredited Representative: 

A person who is approved by the Board of Immigration Appeals (the Board) to represent aliens before the Immigration Courts, the BIA and USCIS. He or she must work for a specific nonprofit, religious, charitable, social service, or similar organization. The organization must be authorized by the Board to represent aliens.

Acquired Citizenship: 

Citizenship conferred at birth on children born abroad to a U.S. citizen parent(s).

Adjustment to Immigrant Status: 

Procedure allowing certain aliens already in the United States to apply for immigrant status. Aliens admitted to the United States in a nonimmigrant, refugee, or parolee category may have their status changed to that of lawful permanent resident if they are eligible to receive an immigrant visa and one is immediately available. In such cases, the alien is counted as an immigrant as of the date of adjustment, even though the alien may have been in the United States for an extended period of time. Beginning in October 1994, section 245(i) of the INA allowed illegal residents who were eligible for immigrant status to remain in the United States and adjust to permanent resident status by applying at a USCIS office and paying an additional penalty fee. Section 245(i) is no longer available unless the alien is the beneficiary of a petition under section 204 of the Act or of an application for a labor certification under section 212(a)(5)(A), filed on or before April 30, 2001. And, if filed after January 1, 1998, the alien must have been present in the United States on December 21, 2000. Prior to October 1994, most illegal residents were required to leave the United States and acquire a visa abroad from the Department of State as they are again now.

Admission Number or I-94 Number: 

An 11-digit number found on the Form I-94 or Form I-94A Arrival-Departure Record.

Adopted Decision: 

A decision of the Administrative Appeals Office (AAO) binding on all USCIS adjudication officers, but not yet published as a precedent decision.


A document in which a person states facts, swearing that the facts are true and accurate. The person (the affiant) must include their full printed name and address, date and place of birth, relationship to the parties, if any, and complete details concerning how the affiant acquired knowledge of the events. The affiant should sign the affidavit under oath and the signature should be witnessed by an official, such as a notary public.


Any person not a citizen or national of the United States.

Application Support Centers: 

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).Arrival-Departure Record (Form I-94/I-94A) — A small white card placed in the passport of an alien when they are admitted or paroled to the United States. This form is also issued to aliens in connection with the approval of an immigration benefit granted from within the United States. The card indicates parole or the immigration status under which the alien was admitted, and, if applicable, how long the alien is authorized to stay in the United States, either with a specific date, or with a notation such as D/S (Duration of Status). See also Duration of Status.


An alien in the United States or at a port of entry who is found to be unable or unwilling to return to his or her country of nationality, or to seek the protection of that country because of persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution. Persecution or the fear thereof must be based on the alien’s race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.

Au Pair Program: 

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.


An abbreviation for the Board of Immigration Appeals.


Aliens on whose behalf a U.S. citizen, legal permanent resident, or employer have filed a petition for such aliens to receive immigration benefits from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Beneficiaries generally receive a lawful status as a result of their relationship to a U.S. citizen, lawful permanent resident, or U.S. employer.

Board of Immigration Appeals: 

The part of the Executive Office for Immigration Review that is authorized to review most decisions of Immigration Judges and some types of decisions of Department of Homeland Security officers.


The amount of money set by the Department of Homeland Security or an Immigration Judge as a condition to release a person from detention for an Immigration Court hearing at a later date.

Bond Proceedings: 

An Immigration Court hearing on a request to redetermine a bond set by the Department of Homeland Security. Bond proceedings are separate from other Immigration Court proceedings.

Border Crosser: 

An alien resident of the United States reentering the country after an absence of less than six months in Canada or Mexico, or a nonresident alien entering the United States across the Canadian border for stays of no more than six months or across the Mexican border for stays of no more than 72 hours.

Business Nonimmigrant: 

An alien coming temporarily to the United States to engage in commercial transactions which do not involve gainful employment in the United States, i.e., engaged in international commerce on behalf of a foreign firm, not employed in the U.S. labor market, and receives no salary from U.S. sources.

Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor (J-1) Status (Form DS-2019): 

A Department of State-controlled document required to support an application for an exchange visitor visa (J-1) prepared by the program sponsor which can only be produced through the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS).

Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant (F-1) Student Status: 

For Academic and Language School (Form I-20)– A Department of Homeland Security-controlled document required to support an application for a student visa (F-1 or M-1) prepared by the sponsoring school which can only be produced through the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS).


An abbreviation for the Code of Federal Regulations.

Cap-Gap Extension: 

Allows foreign students seeking to change to H-1B status to extend their status and employment authorization through Sept. 30 of the calendar year for which the H-1B petition is being filed, but only if the employment start date in H-1B status will begin on Oct. 1. The extension is automatically terminated if the petition is rejected, denied or revoked.

Case in Continuance: 

This response is given if the Social Security Administration (SSA) or the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) needs more than 10 federal government workdays to resolve a case. The employee continues to work until a final case status is provided in E-Verify from SSA or DHS.

Case Verification Number: 

A unique number assigned to each E-Verify case that is created when an employer submits an initial verification. Employers participating in E-Verify are required to record the case verification number on the employee’s Form I-9 or to print the screen containing the case verification number and attach it to the employee’s Form I-9.

Casual domestic employment: 

Sporadic, irregular or intermittent domestic service provided by an individual in a private home.


An individual or company that hires an E-Verify employer agent to create cases on their behalf.

Code of Federal Regulations: 

A codification of rules published in the Federal Register by the Executive departments and agencies of the federal government. See also Regulations.

Conditional resident: 

Any alien granted permanent resident status on a conditional basis (for example, a spouse of a U.S. citizen or an immigrant investor) who must petition to remove the conditions of his or her status before the second anniversary of the approval date of his or her conditional status.

Corporate Administrator: 

Corporate administrator access is used only for managing multiple employer accounts and doesn’t allow corporate administrator users to create and manage E-Verify cases. New corporate administrators must attend a free, regularly scheduled Web-based training session before their accounts can be activated.

Curricular Practical Training: 

A program that allows students to accept paid alternative work/study, internships, cooperative education or any other type of required internship or practicum that employers offer though cooperative agreements with the school.

DHS No Show: 

A response received when the employee did not contact the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to resolve his or her case and 10 federal government workdays have passed since the date of referral. The ‘DHS No Show’ result is considered a final no confirmation.

DHS Verification in Process: 

A case result of “DHS Verification in Process” means that the employee’s information did not match U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) records. The case is automatically referred to DHS for further verification. DHS responds to most of these cases within 24 hours, but has up to three federal government workdays to respond. Employers should check the system periodically for response.

Document Type:

Type of document presented by a newly hired employee to verify identity and employment eligibility.

Department of Homeland Security (DHS): 

Department of the Executive Branch of the U.S. government charged with homeland security: preventing terrorism and managing risks to critical infrastructure; securing and managing the border; enforcing and administering immigration laws; safeguarding and securing cyberspace; and ensuring resilience to disasters.

Department of Justice (DOJ): 

Department of the Executive Branch of the U.S. government with the primary responsibilities to enforce the law and defend the interests of the United States according to the law; to ensure public safety against threats foreign and domestic; to provide federal leadership in preventing and controlling crime; to seek just punishment for those guilty of unlawful behavior; and to ensure fair and impartial administration of justice for all Americans.

Department of Labor (DOL): 

Department of the Executive Branch of the U.S. government that fosters and promotes the welfare of the job seekers, wage earners, and retirees of the United States by improving their working conditions, advancing their opportunities for profitable employment, protecting their retirement and health care benefits, helping employers find workers, strengthening free collective bargaining, and tracking changes in employment, prices, and other national economic measurements. In carrying out this mission, the Department administers a variety of Federal labor laws including those that guarantee workers’ rights to safe and healthful working conditions; a minimum hourly wage and overtime pay; freedom from employment discrimination; unemployment insurance; and other income support.

Designated School Official (DSO): 

The person designated by the head of a Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP)-approved school to support the Principal Designated School Official and maintain SEVIS records.

Disabilities, Employees/Individuals: 

Individuals with physical or mental impairments that substantially limit one or more of their major life activities, have a record of such impairments, or are regarded as having such impairments.


Unfair treatment because of your race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), citizenship or immigration status, national origin, disability, age (age 40 or older) or genetic information in the workplace or other protected characteristic or activity.

Domestic worker: 

An individual who performs casual domestic employment.

Duration of Status (D/S): 

Notation on certain nonimmigrant Forms I-94 indicating that the individual, such as an F-1 nonimmigrant student, is authorized to remain in the United States as long as he or she maintains a valid status.


An individual who provides services or labor for an employer for wages or other remuneration (does not include an independent contractor or those engaged in casual domestic employment, as defined).


A person or entity, including an agent or anyone acting directly or indirectly in the interest thereof, who engages the services or labor of an employee for wages or other remuneration to perform work in the United States. The term employer includes agricultural recruiters and/or referrers for a fee.In the case of an independent contractor or contract labor or services, the term employer means the independent contractor or contractor and not the person or entity using the contract labor.

Employer sanctions: 

Series of civil fines or criminal penaltiesfor violation of regulations that prohibit employers from hiring, recruiting or referring for a fee aliens known to be unauthorized to work in the United States, or continuing to employ aliens knowing them to be unauthorized, or hiring an individual without completing Form I-9.


Any service or labor performed by an employee for an employer within the United States, but not including casual domestic employment or duties performed by nonimmigrant crewmen (D-1 or D-2).

Employment Eligibility Verification(Form I-9): 

The form employers are required to complete with an employee when they hire an employee to perform labor or services in return for wages or other remuneration. This requirement applies to all employees hired after November 6, 1986.

Employment Authorization Document (Form I-766): 

A document issued to noncitizens that are authorized to work in the United States. The most recent version of the Employment Authorization Document (Form I-766) has been issued since January 1997.

Employment Authorized: 

This is a case result received in E-Verify when the information entered for an employee matches Social Security Administration (SSA) or U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) records. This result indicates employment eligibility has been verified.


E-Verify is an Internet-based program in which the employment eligibility of newly hired employees and existing employees assigned to a covered federal contract will be verified after Form I-9 has been completed. This involves separate verification checks (if necessary) of records maintained by the Social Security Administration (SSA) and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

E-Verify Employer Agent: 

An individual or company that performs E-Verify cases on behalf of employers, formerly referred to as a designated agent.

E-Verify Participation Notice: 

The E-Verify Participation Notice informs current and perspective employees that a company is participating in the E-Verify Program. The memorandum of understanding (MOU) requires participating employers to display both the English and Spanish versions of the notice in a prominent place that is clearly visible to current and prospective employees.

Final Nonconfirmation: 

If an employee’s employment eligibility cannot be verified, an employer will receive a Final Nonconfirmation case result in E-Verify. An employer receiving an “SSA or DHS Final Nonconfirmation” response may terminate the employment of the employee and will not be civilly or criminally liable under any law for the termination, as long as the action was taken in good faith reliance on the information provided through E-Verify as noted in Article II, Section C – Responsibilities of the Employer (#6) in the memorandum of understanding (MOU).

General User: 

This user type creates cases, views reports and can update his or her user profile.

Handbook for Employers: Instructions for Completing Form I-9 (M-274):

Provides detailed instructions on how to complete and retain Form I-9.

Hire Date: 

The hire date is the date the employee began (or will begin) work for pay. Enter the Section 2 ‘Certification’ date from the employee’s Form I-9 as the hire date in E-Verify. If you rehired an employee and completed Section 3 of Form I-9, enter the ‘Date of Rehire’ from Section 3 of the employee’s Form I-9 as the hire date in E-Verify.

Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 (IIRIRA): 

Public Law 104-208 enacted on September 30, 1996 required the Immigration and Naturalization Service to conduct three types of employment authorization verification pilot programs. The ‘basic pilot program’ was one of the three programs and is the only program still in existence. The ‘basic pilot program’ exists today as E-Verify.

Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 (INA): 

Public Law 82-414 enacted on June 27, 1952 which, along with other immigration laws, treaties and conventions of the United States, relates to the immigration, temporary admission, naturalization and removal of noncitizens.

Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA): 

Public Law 99-603 enacted on November 6, 1986 sought to eliminate employment opportunity as a key incentive for illegal migration to the United States. IRCA mandates that all U.S. employers verify the employment eligibility and identify of all new hires through completion of the Form I-9. It provides remedies to employees and sanctions against employers who knowingly hire undocumented workers or discriminate against employees based on citizenship or immigration status or based on national origin.

Initial Case Result: 

The results displayed in E-Verify once an employee’s information has been submitted as part of a verification case. Initial case results include ‘Employment Authorized,’ ‘Tentative Nonconfirmation (TNC)’ and ‘DHS Verification in Process.’

Interim Case Status: 

Certain initial E-Verify results that require additional action before E-Verify can provide a final case result. Interim case results include ‘SSA or DHS Tentative Nonconfirmation,’ ‘Review and Update Employee Data,’ ‘DHS Verification in Process,’ ‘SSA or DHS Case in Continuance.’

Lawful Permanent Resident: 

A noncitizen who has been lawfully granted the privilege of residing and working permanently in the United States.

Memorandum of Understanding (MOU): 

A legal document describing a bilateral or multilateral agreement between/among parties. It constitutes a legally binding contract when properly executed (i.e., signed) by all the parties. Employers who participate in E-Verify must sign the E-Verify MOU between the employer, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Social Security Administration (SSA).

Noncitizen National of the United States: 

Persons born in American Samoa; certain former citizens of the former Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands who relinquished their U.S. citizenship acquired under section 301 of Public Law 94-241 (establishing the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands) by executing a declaration before an appropriate court that they intended to be noncitizen nationals rather than U.S. citizens; and certain children of noncitizen nationals born abroad. Generally, noncitizen nationals are American Samoans.

Notice to Employee of Tentative Nonconfirmation (TNC): 

This is a computer generated notice given to an employee after a tentative nonconfirmation (TNC) interim case result has been received from the Social Security Administration (SSA) or the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS). If an employee contests the TNC, he or she must contact the appropriate agency within eight federal government work days to initiate resolution of his or her E-Verify case.

Office of Special Counsel (OSC): 

Created by Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA), the Office of Special Counsel for Immigration Related Unfair Employment Practices (OSC), within the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, enforces the anti-discrimination provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act, 8 USC 1324b, which prohibits discrimination in hiring and discharging based upon citizenship or immigration status and national origin, and discrimination during the employment eligibility verification process, which includes Form I-9 and E-Verify.

Passport (Foreign): 

Any travel document issued by a competent authority showing the bearer’s origin, identity and nationality, if any, which is valid for the entry of the bearer into a foreign country.

Passport (United States): 

Document issued by the U.S. Department of State to U.S. citizens and noncitizen nationals.


A unique identifier that allows registered E-Verify users access to E-Verify.

Permanent Resident or Lawful Permanent Resident: 

A noncitizen who has been lawfully granted the privilege of residing and working permanently in the United States.

Permanent Resident Card (Form I-551): 

Issued by the former Immigration and Naturalization Service after December 1997 and now issued by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, this card is the current version given to permanent residents. The document is valid for 10 years. In the current version of the Permanent Resident Alien Card (Form I-551), the name of the document was changed from Resident Alien Card to Permanent Resident Card.

Photo Matching: 

During the verification case, employers match the photos on certain documents provided by employees when completing Form I-9 with the photo that appears in E-Verify. Photo matching is triggered only when an employee has provided a U.S. Passport, Passport Card, Permanent Resident Card (Form I-551) or an Employment Authorization Document (Form I-766) as his or her Form I-9 document.

Photo Match: 

The photo on the employee’s document matches the photo supplied by E-Verify. The photo transmitted by E-Verify should be the same (identical) photo that appears on an employee’s U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued document. Employers should be able to determine whether the photos match.

Photo Mismatch: 

The photo on the employee’s document does not match the photo supplied by E-Verify. The photo transmitted by E-Verify should be the same (identical) photo that appears on an employee’s U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued document. If the employer determines that it does not match, a “DHS Tentative Nonconfirmation (TNC)” case result is issued and the employee is given the opportunity to contest.

Point of Contact: 

An individual in your company who can be contacted about E-Verify issues. This person may or may not be one of the two user types.


The prohibitive practice of creating a case in E-Verify before a job offer has been accepted and Form I-9 is complete.

Program Administrator: 

This user type creates user accounts at his or her site. This user can view reports, create cases, update account information and unlock user accounts.

Referral Letter: 

An employee who has chosen to contest an “SSA or DHS Tentative Nonconfirmation (TNC)” case result is provided with the appropriate agency referral letter instructing the employee to contact or visit the appropriate agency within eight federal government workdays from the date of referral to initiate the resolution of the employee’s E-Verify case.

Request Name Review: 

In some cases E-Verify returns a case result of ‘Employment Authorized,’ but the name shown as authorized does not match exactly the name you entered into E-Verify from the employee’s Form I-9. This can happen because of name variations in U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) records. If the names do not match, the case must be sent to DHS for review. Taking this step ensures that the record associated with the ‘Employment Authorized’ case result belongs to the employee whose information was entered into E-Verify.

Review and Update Employee Data: 

In some instances, a case status of ‘Review and Update Employee Data’ may occur. This means that the Social Security Administration (SSA) found a discrepancy in the information it received in the E-Verify referral. This may occur because of typographical errors and/or incorrect information on Form I-9. The Form I-9 will need to be reviewed with the employee, the information corrected as applicable and then the case may be resubmitted.

Social Security Administration (SSA): 

The federal government agency that administers a national program of contributory social insurance. SSA and DHS jointly manage the E-Verify program.

 Social Security Administration (SSA) Referral: 

After an employee is advised of an ‘SSA Tentative Nonconfirmation (TNC)’ and has signed the ‘Notice to Employee of Tentative Nonconfirmation’ also called a TNC notice, the employee is referred to SSA to resolve the TNC.

 Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements (SAVE) Program: 

SAVE is a program that enables federal, state and local benefit-issuing agencies to obtain immigration status information to determine applicants’ eligibility for many public benefits.

 Tentative Nonconfirmation (TNC): 

The employee information was compared to government records and could not be verified. This does not mean that the employee is not authorized to work, or that the information provided was incorrect. The employee must contact or visit either the Social Security Administration (SSA) or the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to resolve the discrepancy and continue employment.

 USCIS Number: 

A nine-digit number listed on the front of Permanent Resident Cards (Form I-551) issued after May 10, 2010 that is the same as the Alien number. The A-number can also be found on the back of these Permanent Resident Cards (Form I-551).

 User ID: 

The user ID is an assigned ID with letters and numbers that identifies the user of a computer system or network. All users who create cases in E-Verify must have their own user IDs. The user ID must be eight characters and may be letters, numbers or a combination of both. A user ID is not case-sensitive.

 Verification Division: 

The Verification Division administers the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) verification programs involving customer access to the Verification Information System (VIS) database. The Verification Division, within US Citizenship and Immigration Services, administers the E-Verify program, which enables employers to quickly and easily verify the employment eligibility of their newly hired employees. In addition, the Verification Division administers the Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements (SAVE) program.

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