The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) was enacted in 1952. Although frequently amended, the Act still forms the basic structure of immigration law in the United States. Prior to enactment of the INA, immigration law was governed by a variety of statutes but they were not consolidated in one location. Also known as the McCarran-Walter Act, the INA collected and codified many existing provisions and reorganized the structure of immigration law.
Federal Statutory Law
Statutes currently in force regarding immigration in the United States are found in the following titles of the United States Code (U.S.C.):
The United States Code is available online and in print from several sources including:
The following publications update federal immigration statutes:
Legislative History Compilations:
Two totally separate agencies, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Department of Justice are responsible for managing the majority of functions within the U.S. immigration system. Some other responsibilities of the U.S. immigration system fall under the U.S. Department of State, U.S. Department of Labor, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. A brief description of these agencies and their immigration responsibilities are listed below:
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) Decisions
The Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) is part of the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) under the Department of Justice. Immigration Court decisions are not reported but summaries are available in Interpreter Releases (listed further below). These decisions may be appealed to the BIA. Some types of USCIS petitions may also be appealed directly to the BIA. Precedential decisions (including decisions which have been certified by the U.S. Attorney General) are available on the EOIR’s Virtual Law Library. Some non-precedential cases are listed on the website as indexed cases, though the BIA discourages citation to non-precedential cases. Precedential cases are available in the sources listed below.
The Office of the Chief Administrative Hearing Officer (OCAHO) is part of the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) under the Department of Justice. The OCAHO has jurisdiction over three types of cases arising under the Immigration and Nationality Act as amended (INA), including those involving allegations of: (1) knowingly hiring, recruiting or referring for a fee unauthorized aliens, or the continued employment of unauthorized aliens, failure to comply with employment verification requirements, and requiring indemnity bonds from employees in violation of section 274A of the INA (employer sanctions); (2) immigration-related unfair employment practices in violation of section 274B of the INA; and (3) immigration-related document fraud in violation of section 274C of the INA. OCAHO is headed by a Chief Administrative Hearing Officer (CAHO) who provides overall program direction, articulates policies and procedures, establishes priorities, administers the hearing process presided over by Administrative Law Judges (ALJs) and reviews the employer sanctions decisions of the ALJs. The ALJs hold hearings and related administrative proceedings and render decisions on cases assigned to them concerning the three areas listed above. OCAHO decisions are available in some of the sources listed below.