The Catholic University of America

Immigration Basics

A basic understanding of U.S. immigration concepts and terms is critical for:

  • University departments hosting international students, faculty and visiting researchers
  • international students
  • international faculty, researchers and visiting scholars

The U.S. has over 20 different nonimmigrant statuses, each with specific rules, restrictions, durations, and eligibility requirements. Not every classification can legally work or study in the U.S. These pages are intended to provide brief overviews of key immigration-related concepts.

Things to know about Nonimmigrant Classifications

Things to know about applying for a nonimmigrant visa to enter the U.S.

Things to know about Entering the United States

Things to know about maintaining legal nonimmigrant status in the U.S.

Things to know about traveling outside the U.S.

  • Maintain valid passport
  • Travel to Canada and Mexico
  • Travel Signatures (F and J status holders)
  • Applying for a visa to enter another country
  • Recording your departure from the U.S. (handing in your Form I-94)

Things to know about permanent residency in the United States

  • Three primary ways to obtain permanent residency
  • Basic sponsorship process for permanent residency applications based on employment at CUA
    • Step One: Establish Eligiblity - Decide which classification is most appropriate and assemble documentation to show individual qualifies for permanent residency classification sought. If necessary complete Department of Labor's Application for Alien Labor Certification process.
    • Step Two: Seek Classification - Petition USCIS for the specific classification. (Must be approved before application for immigrant status can be processed.)
    • Step Three: Apply to be an Immigrant - individual applies to become an immigrant either through Application for Adjustment of Status (if inside the US) or for immigrant visa interview at U.S. consulate outside the U.S.
  • The shifting role of ISSS during the permanent residency sponsorship process.

Things to know after obtaining permanent residency

Things to know about paying foreign nationals legally in the United States

Things to know about National Security Concerns

Working with Immigration Attorneys and Attorney listing