The ABCs of the USCIS

The ABCs of the USCIS by Laraine SchwartzNavigating through America's immigration laws and the different agencies responsible for enforcing them can be a daunting task. Here are some of the most important and commonly used abbreviations you are likely to encounter.

USCIS: United States Citizenship and Immigration Services - This department was formerly known as The Immigration and Naturalization Service. It is a component of the Department of Homeland Security and oversees all U.S. stateside immigration matters.

ICE: Immigration and Customs Enforcement - A federal law enforcement agency under the umbrella of the Department of Homeland Security. ICE’s mission is to enforce immigration laws.

DOJ: Department of Justice - The DOJ’s primary responsibility is the enforcement of the law and administration of justice inside the U.S. The DOJ is headed by the Attorney General, appointed by the President.

LPR: Legal Permanent Resident - Someone who holds a green card. The green card allows them to work, travel, pay taxes and petition members of their family for residency in the U.S. An LPR cannot vote in U.S. elections.

EAD: Employment Authorization Document - A work permit which allows workers to find employment in the U.S. while a more permanent status or visa is pending.

EOIR: Executive Office for Immigration Review - This is an office within the DOJ which is responsible for adjudicating immigration cases in the United States. The primary function of EOIR is to conduct removal proceedings, which are administrative hearings to determine whether someone should be deported.

BIA: Board of Immigration Appeals - This is an administrative appellate body within the DOJ and is considered part of the EOIR. The BIA reviews the decisions of immigration courts. If you lose your deportation case before the EOIR, your next step is to appeal that decision before the BIA.

SEVIS: Student and Exchange Visitor Information System - This nationwide database is used for monitoring information about exchange visitors, international students and visiting scholars. It is administered by The Student and Exchange Visitor Program, which keeps track of all individuals in the United States who have F, M, or J visa statuses.

VAWA: Violence Against Women Act - This is a helpful federal law which allows an abused spouse, child or parent of a U.S. Citizen or LPR to self-petition for lawful status in the United States, if evidence can be shown to substantiate the claim of abuse. The self-petitioning right is significant because it enables individuals to seek recognition for themselves without having to rely on their abusers to ask for legal status on their behalf.

I hope you’ll be able to use this guide to help understand the terms you are likely to encounter, but it is no substitute for hiring a qualified Immigration attorney. Give us a call at (201) 770-9990 or email us here if you need help getting through the alphabet soup of Immigration.

Larraine Schwartz, Lobbying for Immigration Reform

Laraine E. Schwartz, Esq.
Winograd and Schwartz Attorneys at Law, PC
Tel. (201) 770-9990

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