IMMIGRATION LAW: AN OVERVIEW

We assist clients with the following issues:

Federal immigration law determines whether a person is an alien, the rights, duties, and obligations associated with being an alien in the United States, and how aliens gain residence or citizenship within the United States. It also provides the means by which certain aliens can become legally naturalized citizens with full rights of citizenship. Immigration law serves as a gatekeeper for the nation’s border, determining who may enter, how long they may stay, and when they must leave.

Congress has complete authority over immigration. Presidential power does not extend beyond refugee policy. Except for questions regarding aliens’ constitutional rights, the courts have generally found the immigration issue as nonjusticiable.

States have limited legislative authority regarding immigration, and 28 U.S.C. § 1251 details the full extent of state jurisdiction. Generally, 28 U.S.C. § 994 details the federal sentencing guidelines for illegal entry into the country.

By controlling the visa process, the federal government can achieve the goals of its immigration policies.  There are two types of visas: immigrant visas and nonimmigrant visas. The government primarily issues nonimmigrant visas to tourists and temporary business visitors. The government divides nonimmigrant visas into eighteen different types, but for most types, does not impose a cap on the number that may be granted in a year. Only a few categories of non-immigrant visas allow their holders to work in the United States. Immigrant visas, on the other hand, permit their holders to stay in the United States permanently and eventually to apply for citizenship. Aliens with immigrant visas can also work in the United States. Congress limits the quantity of immigrant visas, which numbered 675,000 in 1995. Many immigrant visas remain subject to per-country caps.