Immigration Law

Immigration law refers to national government policies which control the phenomenon of immigration to their country.

Immigration law, regarding foreign citizens, is related to nationality law, which governs the legal status of people, in matters such ascitizenship. 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 theChinese 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, theDepartment 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 Protection .

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 not.

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 .

Immigration law became a serious political issue in the USA, particularly after 9/11.

Control measures

To control immigration, many countries set up customs at entry points. Some common location for entry points are airports and roads near the border. At the Customs Department, Travel documents are inspected. Some required documents are a passport, a Carte Jaune, and an onward ticket. Sometimes travelers are required to register the amount of money they are carrying.


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