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Immigration and Labor Glossary

Here is a working glossary of definitions, policies and regulations that are pertinent to immigration and labor issues.



Asylum Seeker/Asylee

  • An individual who comes to the United States seeking protection due to persecution or fear of persecution in their home country on account of: race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group or political opinion is an asylum seeker. A person approved for this status is referred to as an asylee. 
  • U.S. law allows individuals to apply for asylum at a Port of Entry or while under removal proceedings from the country (for example after attempting to enter without inspection between ports of entry). Individuals previously admitted to the United States on another visa may also apply directly for asylum within one year of entry, or later if conditions in their country have changed since their entry


  • An individual who is currently residing outside of the United States, demonstrates that they were persecuted or have a well-founded fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group and is admissible to the United States. 
  • The United States accepts a designated number of refugees each year from locations outside of the United States who are processed in cooperation with the UN High Commission on Refugees. If accepted for resettlement, the Office of Refugee Resettlement of the Department of Health and Human Services works with designated nonprofit refugee agencies in the United States to determine where they will reside in the United States. 
  • In contrast to an asylee, refugees are only processed while abroad

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and DREAMers  

  • DACA is a program created by executive action under the Obama administration to allow people who arrived in the United States as children to apply for an administrative deferment of their deportation, as well as a work permit. 
  • “DREAMers” is a general term referring not just to those who were eligible to apply for the DACA program, but any unauthorized immigrant in the United States who arrived as a child and has grown up here. 

ITN number

  • Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) is a tax processing number issued by the Internal Revenue Service. The IRS issues ITINs to individuals who are required to have a U.S. taxpayer identification number but who do not have, and are not eligible to obtain, a Social Security number (SSN) from the Social Security Administration (SSA).
  •  This is related to undocumented farmers

Non-Immigrant Visa 

  • Nonimmigrants are those who are allowed to enter the United States for a specific purpose and for a limited period of time, such as tourists, students, business visitors, diplomats and specialty occupations such as high tech workers or seasonal agricultural workers.
    • Examples include: 
      • H-2A: Temporary or Seasonal agricultural worker 

Permanent Resident 

  • Permanent Resident is an immigrant who has been accorded the privilege of residing permanently in the United States. Generally, permanent residents are those individuals who have “green cards”. 
  • Refugees and asylees may adjust to PR status after one year of continuous residence. 
  • Lawful permanent residents may be issued immigrant visas by the Department of State overseas or adjust to PR status after entering the United States. Permanent Residents are able to apply for citizenship after five years of U.S. residence

Real ID Act

  • federal law pertaining to security, authentication, and issuance procedure standards for drivers’ licenses and identity documents, as well as various immigration issues pertaining to terrorism.
  • regardless of immigration status immigrants are able to fly domestically if they have a state issued ID/drivers license but only until May 2023
  • States that allowing issueing of drivers licenses or state IDs to undocumented immigrants are: 
    • California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, New Mexico, Nevada, Massachusetts New York, New Jersey, Oregon, Utah, Vermont, Virginia and Washington.

Sanctuary City 

  • A general term with no legal definition but applied often to a city or other jurisdiction where local governmental resources are prohibited, either by law or by policy or practice, from being used to enforce immigration laws or cooperate in certain respects with federal immigration enforcement agencies, such as by honoring requests to hold immigrants in jails for transfer for deportation, or allowing federal agents into jails to interview foreign-born detainees for possible removal.

Temporary Protected Status (TPS) 

  • The Secretary of Homeland Security can grant TPS to individuals of a country that the secretary has designated as no longer safe for return due to a military conflict, natural disaster or extraordinary and temporary conditions.
  • TPS is a temporary status and does not provide for a direct path to a green card but does not specifically prohibit individuals for applying for permanent residency if they are otherwise eligible in a specific immigrant category.


Agriculture Laws/Regulations

Fair Labor Standards Act

  • The FLSA is the federal law which sets minimum wage, overtime, recordkeeping, and youth employment standards for most employment, including agricultural employment. There are, however, some exemptions which exempt certain employees from the minimum wage provisions, the overtime pay provisions, or both.

Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA)

  • The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 is a US labor law governing the federal law of occupational health and safety in the private sector and federal government in the United States
  • OSHA Standards for ag: 
    • The slow-moving vehicle (SMV) emblem; Anhydrous ammonia; Pulpwood logging; Temporary labor camp housing; Rollover protective structures; Agricultural machinery guarding; Cotton dust; Cadmium;
  • The general duty clause states that every employer must furnish each employee a place of employment free from all recognized hazards causing, or likely to cause, deaths or serious injury. The general duty clause will be used only in situations where no specific standard has been adopted. These hazards must be of common knowledge to the agriculture industry, detectable by the senses, or of wide recognition in agriculture and have known methods of detection. 

Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA)

  • A United States federal law that set up the basic U.S. system of pesticide regulation to protect applicators, consumers, and the environment.

Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act

  • protects migrant and seasonal agricultural workers by establishing employment standards related to wages, housing, transportation, disclosures and recordkeeping. 
  • While the law does not grant farmworkers the right to join labor unions or access to collective bargaining, it does contain some important protections


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