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Immigration Glossary - Terms and Acronyms - "R"


Any person who is outside his or her country of nationality who is unable or unwilling to return to 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. People with no nationality must generally be outside their country of last habitual residence to qualify as a refugee. Refugees are subject to ceilings by geographic area set annually by the President in consultation with Congress and are eligible to adjust to lawful permanent resident status after one year of continuous presence in the United States.

Refugee Approvals

The number of refugees approved for admission to the United States during a fiscal year.

Refugee Arrivals

The number of refugees admitted to the United States through ports of entry during a fiscal year.

Refugee Authorized Admissions

The maximum number of refugees allowed to enter the United States in a given fiscal year. As set forth in the Refugee Act of 1980 (Public Law 96-212) the President determines the annual figure after consultations with Congress.


A qualified applicant for conditional entry, between February 1970 and April 1980, whose application for admission to the United States could not be approved because of inadequate numbers of seventh preference visas. As a result, the applicant was paroled into the United States under the parole authority granted to the Secretary of Homeland Security.

Regional Offices

The three USCIS Regional Offices that supervise the work of USCIS Districts. The Regional Directors report to the Associate Director for Domestic Operations in USCIS Headquarters, Washington, DC. The three Regional Offices are located in (Eastern Region) Burlington, VT, (Central Region) Dallas, TX, and (Western Region) Laguna Nigel, CA. A fourth Regional Office (Southeastern Region) is planned for Orlando, FL.

Registry Date

Aliens who have continuously resided in the United States since January 1, 1972, are of good moral character, and are not inadmissible, are eligible to adjust to legal permanent resident status under the registry provision. Before the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 amended the date, aliens had to have been in the country continuously since June 30, 1948, to qualify.


The expulsion of an alien from the United States. This expulsion may be based on grounds of inadmissibility or deportability.

Required Departure

See "Voluntary Departure"


Permanent relocation of refugees in a place outside their country of origin to allow them to establish residence and become productive members of society there. Refugee resettlement is accomplished with the direct assistance of private voluntary agencies working with the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Refugee Resettlement.

Resident Alien

Applies to non-U.S. citizens currently residing in the United States. The term is applied in three different manners; please see Permanent Resident, Conditional Resident, and Returning Resident.

Returning Resident

Any Lawful Permanent Resident who has been outside the United States and is returning to the U.S. Also defined as a "special immigrant." If outside of the U.S. for more than 180 days, must apply for readmission to the U.S. If outside of the U.S. for more than one year and is returning to his or her permanent residence in the United States, usually must have a re-entry documentation from USCIS or an immigrant visa from the Department of State.