A. Department of Homeland Security
II. Primary Sources of Immigration Law
D. Case Law
III. General Secondary Sources
V. Asylum Law
VII. Immigration & Criminal Law
Immigration is regulated by the federal government. The main source of statutory law is the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), originally passed in 1952. For more than 60 years, the agency responsible for enforcing immigration law was the Immigration and Naturalization Service, an agency within the Department of Justice, headed by the U.S. Attorney General. After the terrorist attacks against the U.S. on September 11, 2001, the Homeland Security Act of 2002 abolished the INS and created the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). (Pub. L. No. 107-296, 116 Stat. 2135).
The Homeland Security Act transferred the primary responsibility for enforcing and administering immigration laws from the Attorney General to the Secretary of the DHS, and created three separate agencies within DHS to handle immigration functions: one to administer benefits and services (USCIS) and two to handle law enforcement functions (ICE and CBP). The Attorney General and the Department of Justice have retained some enformcement powers. Other federal agencies regulating immigration include the Department of Labor and the Department of State.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) contains the following agencies:
The Department of Justice (DOJ) webpage now has a Spanish version; see "Justice.gov en español." The Department of Justice contains the following agencies:
Department of Labor: In order to hire foreign workers, U.S. employers must go through a process called "labor certification" with the Department of Labor. If an employer's labor certification application is denied, the employer can appeal to the Board of Alien Labor Certification Appeals (BALCA). For general information, see the link for "Foreign Labor" (Topics > Hiring > Foreign Labor.) There is also a webpage for the Office of Foreign Labor Certification (OFLC) with links on the many issues involved in submitting a labor certification application, including forms.
Office of Administrative Law Judges, Immigration Collection: Provides access to decisions from the Board of Alien Labor Certification Appeals (BALCA) and several other types of immigration-related decisions. Includes links to the Dictionary of Occupational Titles, selected statutes and regulations, and agency contact information.
The State Department is responsible for issuance of visas. It publishes the Foreign Affairs Manual, which contains information on citizenship and nationality (Volume 8) and interpretations and instructions on provisions for issuing visas and waivers (Volume 9). The monthly Visa Bulletin, which shows the waiting times for immigrant visas in different categories and from different countries, is available on the State Department's website.