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Immigration Laws

Brief Summary of the Legislation, Regulations, Policy Manual & Policy Memoranda Affecting the Immigration Laws

Legislation

The U.S. Constitution vests all federal legislative power in the U.S. Congress. Congress exercises this power by enacting public and private laws. A U.S. public law is a federal law that has general applicability nationwide. When Congress enacts a public law, it generally does not rewrite the entire body of law, or even entire sections of a law, but instead adds to or changes specific words within a section. These changes are then reflected in the larger body of public laws. This larger body of law is codified (collected and organized) by subject matter in the U.S. Code.

  • Legislation Affecting Immigration and Nationality

A public law known as the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 (INA) collected many existing provisions and reorganized the structure of immigration law. Since then, Congress has amended the INA many times based on new public laws. When Congress enacts public laws affecting immigration and nationality, a couple of things may happen with the INA. In some cases, Congress amends INA sections or adds new sections to the INA. In other cases, Congress passes immigration laws that do not change the INA. The INA and most other immigration laws can be found in the part of the U.S. Code called Title 8. Immigration law provisions appear in Title 8 as either U.S. Code sections or notes to sections.

  • Legislation Affecting Agency Operations

Congress has enacted a number of laws governing how executive agencies may regulate private behavior, track personal information, and otherwise conduct business. Freedom of Information Act and Privacy Act is one of these laws that apply to USCIS as an executive agency.

Regulations

When laws are enacted by Congress, they are interpreted and implemented by regulations issued by various Executive branch agencies. Regulations are then collected and published in the Code of Federal Regulations, commonly referred to as the CFR. The CFR is arranged by subject title and generally parallels the structure of the U.S. Code (U.S.C.). Title 8 of the CFR deals with “Aliens and Nationality.”  The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is the agency responsible for enforcing the immigration laws. While DHS plays a central role in administering the immigration system of the United States, administration of immigration benefits is the responsibility of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the agency that oversees lawful immigration to the United States. In other words, the DHS, provides immigration benefits to people who are entitled to stay in the U.S. on a temporary or permanent basis through USCIS. These benefits include granting of U.S. citizenship to those who are eligible to naturalize, authorizing individuals to reside in the U.S. on a permanent basis, and providing noncitizens with the eligibility to work in the United States

Policy Manual

The USCIS Policy Manual is the agency’s centralized online repository for USCIS’ immigration policies.. The Policy Manual contains separate volumes pertaining to different areas of immigration benefits administered by the agency, such as citizenship and naturalization, adjustment of status, and nonimmigrants. The content is organized into different volumes, parts, and chapters. The Policy Manual provides transparency of immigration policies and furthers consistency, quality, and efficiency consistent with the USCIS mission.  The Policy Manual contains the official policies of USCIS and assists immigration officers in rendering decisions. The Policy Manual is to be followed by all USCIS officers in the performance of their duties but it does not remove their discretion in making adjudicatory decisions. The Policy Manual does not create any substantive or procedural right or benefit that is legally enforceable by any party against the United States or its agencies or officers or any other person. The most current version of the Policy Manual may be obtained from USCIS website.

Policy Memoranda

In addition to the USCIS Policy Manual, USCIS policy memoranda contain the official policies of USCIS and assist immigration officers in rendering decisions. These policy memoranda are to be followed by USCIS officers in the performance of their duties but do not remove their discretion in making adjudicatory decisions. The policy memoranda do not create any substantive or procedural rights or benefits that are legally enforceable by any party against the United States, or its agencies or officers or any other person. The most current version of the Policy Manual may be obtained from USCIS website.


The materials on this site are provided for informational purposes only and are not legal advice nor should they be construed as legal advice on any subject matter. Immigration Solution, a division of the Law Office of Al Parsad, assumes no liability for the use or interpretation of any information contained on this website. These materials are intended, but not promised or guaranteed, to be correct, complete, or up-to-date. Your use of this site and the information provided here is not intended to create and does not create an attorney client relationship with the Law Office. It does not constitute a contract for representation by the Law Office. No attorney client relationship is intended or created until a written agreement is signed. Readers should not act or rely upon any information contained on this site and should always seek the advice of an attorney in the reader’s state.