Understanding Immigration Law

Understanding Immigration Law: Rules and Regulations for Foreigners Entering and Staying in a Country

Immigration law deals with the legal issues related to foreigners coming into or staying in a country. It involves all aspects of visas and green cards, including permanent residency and naturalization.

Immigration laws are often complicated, and regulations change frequently. This makes immigration a specialized practice area for attorneys.

Definition

Immigration law is the set of rules that govern who can enter and stay in a country. It also outlines the process for immigrants to become citizens or permanent residents.

There are five basic purposes of immigration policy: social, economic, cultural, moral, and security (US English Foundation, 2016; Fix & Passel, 1994). These goals require balancing against one another, making it difficult to achieve them all.

For example, some countries regulate immigration to protect their economy from the influx of foreign workers during downturns in employment. This may appear to be a protectionist measure, but it can be argued that in the long run, migrant workers create growth for businesses in their host nations.

Origins

Immigration laws are a central part of the United States’ history. The power to enact and enforce these laws is rooted in national sovereignty, which means that the federal government has exclusive authority over all immigration matters.

Congress has enacted numerous laws to regulate immigration, and the Supreme Court has upheld a number of these statutes. These laws prohibit entry into the country by a wide variety of people, such as criminals, prostitutes, and those who would be dependent on public assistance (U.S. Department of Homeland Security).

Immigration law in the United States has undergone major change in recent years. A 1965 law repealed the national-origins quota system, which imposed numerical limits on immigrants from certain countries and regions. The law also formally removed race as a reason to exclude people from entering the U.S.

Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 (INA)

INA (Immigration and Nationality Act) is a major revision to immigration law. The INA placed a greater emphasis on employment-based immigration and set per country quotas for visas.

The law also created a temporary protected status for immigrants from countries in armed conflict, natural disasters or other extraordinary circumstances. The Attorney General would be able to grant such protected status.

The INS also became responsible for enforcing employer sanctions against employers who hired undocumented aliens. The INS was given the power to investigate, prosecute, and levy fines against corporate and individual employers. The INS also deported individuals found to be working illegally in the United States. The INA also increased the level of civil and criminal fines for violations.

Immigration and Naturalization Act of 1990 (INA)

Immigration law governs who may immigrate to the United States and who is prohibited from doing so. It also regulates the procedures for obtaining visas, naturalization, and deportation.

The INA abolished an earlier quota system based on national origin and set a new policy of reuniting families and attracting skilled labor to the country. It also established a lottery program to provide immigrant visas to nations that had been harmed by the 1965 quotas.

The Act also provided a special visa for immigrants who were victims of domestic violence or sexual abuse. It also changed the grounds for deportation to include health, security, and criminal reasons.

Immigration and Nationality Act of 1990 (INA)

The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1990 (INA) was an important law that greatly expanded the number of immigrants allowed into the United States. It also changed the way in which the INS operated.

The INA increased the annual cap on legal immigrants we would accept, and created a lottery to admit people from low-sending countries. These changes were designed to reunite families and attract skilled workers to the U.S.

The INA also expanded the grounds for deportation or exclusion of aliens, especially health-related reasons. It also set up a program to educate the public about naturalization benefits.

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