Immigration law refers to national government
policies which control the phenomenon of immigration to their
Immigration law, regarding foreign citizens, is related to nationality
law, which governs the legal status of people, in matters such
as citizenship. Immigration laws vary from country to country,
as well as according to the political climate of the times,
as sentiments may sway from the widely inclusive to the deeply
exclusive of new immigrants.
Immigration law regarding the citizens of a country is regulated
by international law. The United Nations International Covenant
on Civil and Political Rights mandates that all countries allow
entry to its own citizens.
Certain countries may maintain rather strict laws which regulate
both the right of entry and internal rights, such as the duration
of stay and the right to participate in government. Most countries
have laws which designate a process for naturalization, by which
immigrants may become citizens.
Immigration law in the USA
The immigration laws in the United States have experienced uneven
progress. During colonial times independent colonies created
their immigration laws. The first attempt to naturalize foreigners
was through the Naturalization Act of 1790. However many years
later the Chinese Exclusion Act was passed to stop the immigration
of Chinese people. The Immigration Act of 1924 put a quota on
how many immigrants are permitted, based on nationality. The
Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 led to the creation
of the Immigration and Naturalization Service.
The five major departments of the federal government involved
in the immigration process are the Department of Homeland Security,
the Department of Justice, the Department of State, the Department
of Labor, and the Department of Health and Human Services. Of
the five, the Department of Homeland Security, which replaced
the Immigration and Naturalization Service, enforces immigration
laws and bestows benefits on aliens. It is subdivided into three
distinct departments: US Citizenship and Immigration Services,
Immigration and Customs Enforcement , and Customs and Border
Every year, the Federal government conducts a Diversity Visa
Lottery. The lottery grants citizens of other countries legal
entry into the United States. However only countries "with low
rates of immigration to the United States" are allowed to apply.
Presently there are two different types of visas: one for people
seeking to live in the US; termed Immigrant Visas, and the other
for people coming for limited durations, such as tourists or
on business trip, and those are termed Non Immigrant Visas.
The former visa has “per country-caps”, and the latter does
The United States allows more than 1 million aliens to
become Legal Permanent Residents every year, which is more than
any other country in the world.
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