Immigration Law Terms: What do they mean?

You may be seeing a lot of new terms and abbreviations as of late due to the new executive order by President Obama released on November 20th. We’ve put together a few of the trending terms and definitions in this post as a helpful reference.

Continuous Residence

Continuous residence means an immigration applicant maintains a permanent dwelling place in the United States over the specified period of time required by the appropriate law. The applicant’s residence is generally their actual physical location, regardless of whether s/he intentions to claim it as their residence.

Prosecutorial Discretion

The legal authority given to prosecutors to choose whether or not to take action against an individual for committing an offense.

Deferred Action

A use of prosecutorial discretion to not removed an individual from the country for a set period of time until or unless the deferred action is terminated. Deferred action is determined on a case-by-case basis and only established lawful presence. It does not provide an immigration status or benefits of any kind. DACA is an example of deferred action.


DACA stands for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, which is a 2012 program launched by President Obama. Underneath DACA, certain individuals who were brought to the United States as children in an undocumented status are eligible for some forms of relief that will allow them to remain in the U.S.


DAPA stands for Deferred Action for Parents, a program similar to DACA, which will allow for certain forms of relief for the undocumented parents of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents. This new immigration classification was announced by President Obama

Provisional Waiver

A waiver for individuals who would be deemed inadmissible to the U.S. because of a claim they were unlawfully present in the U.S. for more than 180 days. The waiver is given based on a showing of extreme hardship to certain U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents’ family members if the inadmissible individual was to be removed. The waiver allows for the inadmissible individual to return to the U.S. after departure for an immigrant visa interview at a U.S. embassy or consulate abroad.

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Disclaimer: Nothing in relation to the enclosed information should be construed and or considered as legal advice for any individual, entity, case, or situation. The following information is prepared for advertisement use only. The information is intended ONLY to be general and should not be relied upon for any specific situation. For legal advice on your specific situation, we encourage you to consult an attorney experienced in the area of Immigration Law.