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A# or Alien Registration Number

An 8 or 9 digit number starting with the letter A assigned to foreign nationals for identification purposes by the Department of Homeland Security, usually in connection with an application to adjust status, an application for employment authorization, or upon the initiation of removal proceedings.

AC21 Green Card Portability

A foreign national who is the beneficiary of an approved employment-based immigrant petition (I-140), and who has filed an application to adjust status (I-485), may change employers 180 days after filing the I-485 if the new job is in the same or similar occupational classification as the job for which the I-140 petition was filed.

Adjustment of Status

The process by which a foreign national changes his or her nonimmigrant status to immigrant/permanent resident status (or gets a Green Card) while inside the United States. Form I-485 is used to apply for adjustment of status with USCIS.

Crimes Involving Moral Turpitude (CIMTs)

If you are an "aggravated felon" or have committed a crime involving moral turpitude (CIMT), you are removable (deportable) or inadmissible to the United States. Aggravated felonies are listed in the Immigration and Nationality Act but CIMTs are not defined. Lawful permanent residents, individuals present in the United States on a nonimmigrant visa, as well as individuals residing in the United States unlawfully can be deported if accused of having committed one or more CIMTs.

While the definition of CIMT is not exact, the law generally recognizes acts that are considered intrinsically wrong, such as rape, murder, kidnapping, assault, fraud and some types of theft to be CIMTs. Consequently, a CIMT is an illegal act that is, in itself, morally reprehensible as opposed to an act that is wrong simply because it is prohibited by law. It is important to realize that the U.S. immigration system views certain types of crimes differently than the local criminal courts. If you have a criminal record and an immigration issue, you need to speak to an immigration attorney who can explain how your criminal record will impact your immigration status.

Good Moral Character

Although the term “good moral character” itself has not been defined by Congress, the Immigration and Nationality Act does list the types of persons who are not of good moral character. That list includes:

• Habitual drunkards;
• Persons who have engaged in prostitution, commercialized vice, and/or alien smuggling;
• Aliens previously removed or deported;
• Aliens who have committed a CIMT or a controlled substance offense;
• Aliens suspected of being controlled substance traffickers;
• Aliens with multiple criminal convictions for which the sentence was 5 years or more of confinement;
• Aliens with 2 or more gambling offenses or whose income is principally derived from illegal gambling;
• Aliens who have given false testimony for the purpose of obtaining an immigration benefit;
• Aliens confined to imprisonment for a total of 180 days or more during the physical presence period;
• Aliens who have committed an aggravated felony.

Even minor violations of good moral character can result in the denial of U.S. citizenship. Further, the absence of good moral character is an absolute bar to relief in the form of Cancellation of Removal for Non-Permanent Residents.


PERM is an acronym for the Program Electronic Review Management system used by the Department of Labor (DOL) to process the ETA-9089 or permanent labor certification application. PERM is also used loosely to refer to the process by which an employer applies for labor certification, the pre-requisite to sponsoring a foreign national for a permanent employment opportunity. If DOL certifies the employer's application, then the employer may file an employment-based immigration petition for its employee-beneficiary.