Immigration Terms

In the world of immigration there are a great many terms that are used to mean very specific things. These terms are called jargon. Although they do a very good job of describing specific situations, they often are misunderstood by people unfamiliar with them.

When applying for immigration benefits, one should always check out a glossary of terms (typically available somewhere on the government website) to make sure you know exactly what the form is referencing.

Below, we have some immigration terms that people often find confusing. We hope that by reading this article you might better understand the immigration system in the United States.

Green Card Lottery vs. Diversity Visa Lottery

The Diversity Visa Lottery and the Green Card Lottery are the exact same thing. Both terms refer to an immigration program run by the US State Department in an attempt to further diversify the immigration numbers of the United States.

Really, the official term for the program is the Diversity Visa Lottery Program. However, most people call it the Green Card Lottery because it better expresses the ultimate result from the viewpoint of the applying immigrant. Immigrants in the program do not get diversity, but they do get green cards.

Immigrant vs. Non-Immigrant

There is a very specific difference between immigrants and non-immigrants.

Immigrants are people from a country other than the United States who come to live in the US on a more-or-less permanent basis.

Non-immigrants are people from a country other than the United States who come to the US for a temporary and limited period of time. Non-immigrants generally must leave the United States after a specified period of time.

Permanent Resident Card vs. Green Card

The term Permanent Resident Card is the official name of the Green Card. They are, in essence, the exact same document. Permanent Resident Cards are green in color and that is why they are called Green Cards.

These documents are proof that an immigrant has the right to live and work in the United States on a permanent basis. Eventually these immigrants can apply for citizenship in the US.

Deportation vs. Removal

There is relatively no difference between the terms deportation and removal, they both refer to the action of the US government making a person from outside of the US leave the country.

For example, foreign nationals who are in the United States, but should not be will be put into removal proceedings and eventually deported. There are a number of reasons for why a person may be put into removal proceedings:

  • Violating the conditions of the visa that they used to come to the US.
  • Staying after the authorized period of stay specified by an immigration officer.
  • If a foreign national is found to have fraudulently applied for immigration benefits in the United States they will be put into removal proceedings and eventually deported.