Finding Immigration Law
Primary Law Sources
The main statute governing U.S. immigration law is the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952, as amended (INA). The current text of the INA is codified in Title 8 of the U.S. Code, Aliens and Nationality. In addition, some other titles of the U.S. Code contain provisions relating to immigration, including Title 20, Employee Benefits, Title 22, Foreign Relations, and Title 29, Labor.
Selected print sources for statutory immigration law
• Bender’s Immigration and Nationality Act Service. KF4806.54 .M38. B1.
• Bender's Immigration and Nationality Act Pamphlet. KF4806.54.A19 U55. Reserve.
• Immigration Law Service 2d. Vol. 4. KF4815 .I45 2004. B1.
Selected online sources for statutory immigration law
• Lexis (IMMIG; USCS)
• Westlaw (FIM-INA and FIM-USCA)
Several titles of the Code of Federal Regulations have provisions relating to immigration, including Title 8, Aliens and Nationality, Title 22, Foreign Relations, and Title 20, Employee Benefits.
Selected print sources for immigration regulations
• Code of Federal Regulations. NYUL KA-A-41. Atrium, MRR, & Furman Hall.
• Bender’s Immigration Regulations Service. KF4807 1989. B1.
• Immigration Law Service 2d. Vol. 5. KF4815 .I45 2004. B1.
Selected online sources for immigration regulations
• United States Citizenship and Immigration Services Web-site (Title 8 and other immigration regulations)
• Lexis (IMMIG; CFR)
• Westlaw (FIM-CFR)
Most judicial cases involving immigration are decided in federal court. Therefore, the decisions will be in various federal reporters (such as Federal Reporter, Federal Supplement, Supreme Court Reporter, and so on). These reporters are available in print in the library and online on Lexis and Westlaw, as well as other on online databases and on some court Web-sites. In addition, Bender's Immigration Case Reporter (KF4815. I46 1985. B1) publishes select federal court cases involving immigration. Finally, both Lexis (IMMIG; COURTS) and Westlaw (FIM-CS) offer databases compiling federal cases involving immigration.
A number of Federal Agencies are responsible for administering U.S. immigration law including:
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), a bureau in the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), processes immigration services and benefits. In that capacity, it reviews various types of immigration petitions and applications. The USCIS took over these responsibilities from the Immigration & Naturalization Service (INS) when the INS was abolished in 2002. The USCIS Web-site offers forms, immigration statutes and regulations, immigration handbooks, policy and procedural memoranda, information on USCIS field offices, and much more.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement
The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the "investigative arm" of the DHS, enforces immigration and customs laws. The ICE Web-site describes ICE's mission and various activities of ICE agents.
Executive Office for Immigration Review
The Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR), an office in the Department of Justice, is tasked with adjudicating many types of immigration cases, including most removal hearings and appeals from those hearings. The EOIR consists of Immigration Courts, the Board of Immigration Appeals, and the Office of Chief Administrative Hearing Officer. The EOIR Web-site describes the organizational structure of the EOIR and offers official forms and copies of many administrative decisions.
U.S. Department of State and U.S. Department of Labor
The Department of State is primarily responsible for the issuance of visas and U.S. passports. The Department of State Web-site offers information about the State Department, visas, passports, U.S. embassies and consulates, and much more. The mission of the Department of Labor (DOL), Foreign Labor Certification office, is to permit U.S. employers to hire aliens, on a temporary or permanent basis, provided there aren't U.S. workers "able, willing and qualified" to fill the positions and admission of aliens won't adversely affect American workers. The DOL Web-site offers an electronic system for filing labor certification applications, official forms relating to employment-based immigration, and pertinent regulations.
A number of administrative bodies render decisions involving immigration matters, including:
Adjudicates individual immigration cases, primarily removal cases (that is, cases where the court determines whether aliens charged with violating immigration law should be removed from the U.S.), but also other types of cases, including certain exclusion and asylum cases.
Print sources for Immigration Court decisions
• Bender’s Immigration Case Reporter. KF4815 .I46 1985. B1.
Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA)
Conducts appeals from immigration court decisions and appeals from some types of decisions made by DHS District Directors. There are three categories of BIA decisions:
• Precedent decisions: Precedent decisions are officially published by the BIA and are binding on DHS employees and immigration courts.
• Indexed decisions: Indexed decisions are those that the BIA selects as having "value as a general guide to particular areas of law or fact patterns." (EOIR Web-site) Indexed decisions aren't precedential in nature and aren't officially published by the BIA.
• Unpublished decisions: Unpublished decisions aren't precedential in nature and are considered "cumulative, factual, or self-evident." (Immigration Law & Procedure: Practice and Strategy)
Print sources for BIA decisions
• Administrative Decisions Under the Immigration and Nationality Laws. KF4812.A2 U55. B1. (Precedent decisions)
• Bender’s Immigration Case Reporter. KF4815 .I46 1985. B1. (Precedent and select non-precedent decisions)
Online sources for BIA decisions
• EOIR Web-site (Precedent and indexed decisions)
• Lexis (IMMIG; BIA: Precedent decisions: 1940- and IMMIG; BIAAAU: Non-precedent decisions:1985-)
• Westlaw (FIM-BIA: Precedent and select non-precedent decisions: 1940-)
USCIS Administrative Appeals Office (AAO)
Hears appeals from decisions made by DHS officers on many types of immigration petitions and applications. According to immigration regulations, the AAO can issue precedent and non-precedent decisions. However, as of 2005, the AAO hadn't issued any precedent decisions since 1998. Moreover, starting in 2005, the AAO began to designate certain decisions "adopted decisions"--that is, decisions that DHS officers should follow in proceedings involving similar issues. Further, AAO began to designate certain decisions "unreported." While not entirely clear, "unreported" decisions appear to be non-precedent decisions.
Print sources for AAO decisions
• Bender’s Immigration Case Reporter. KF 4815 .I46 1985. B1. (Table 3 identifies precedent and select non-precedent decisions)
Online sources for AAO decisions
• Lexis (IMMIG; BIA: Precedent decisions: 1940- and IMMIG; BIAAAU: Non-precedent decisions: 1985-)
• Westlaw (FIM-AAU; 1988-)
Office of the Chief Administrative Hearing Officer (OCAHO)
Hears primarily immigration-related employment cases, such as employer sanction cases and document fraud cases.
Print sources for OCAHO decisions
• Bender’s Immigration Case Reporter. KF4815 .I46 1985. B1.
• Administrative Decisions Under Employer Sanctions & Unfair Immigration-Related Employment Practices Laws. KF4812 .A24x (Cases before 2000 only)
Online sources for OCAHO decisions
• EOIR Web-site
• Lexis (IMMIG; OCAHO: 1988-)
• Westlaw (FIM-OCAHO: 1988-)
Board of Alien Labor Certification Appeals (BALCA)
Hears appeals of certain labor certification denials.
Print sources for BALCA decisions
• Bender’s Immigration Case Reporter. KF4815 .I46 1985. B1.
Online sources for BALCA decisions
• DOL Web-site
• Lexis (IMMIG; BALCA: 1987-)
• Westlaw (FIM-BALCA: 1987-)
Lexis (IMMIG; IMMAGN) and Westlaw (FIM-ADMIN) offer databases that compile various types of administrative decisions involving immigration.
Federal agencies involved in immigration issue a number of important materials concerning immigration law and procedure including:
Board of Immigration Appeals Practice Manual
The BIA Practice Manual outlines "procedures, requirements, and recommendations for practice before the Board of Immigration Appeals." (BIA Practice Manual)
• Print: Board of Immigration Appeals Practice Manual. KF4819.3 .U5x 1999. B1.
• EOIR Web-site
• Westlaw (FIM-BIAPRAC)
Board of Alien Labor Certification Appeals Deskbook
The BALCA deskbook serves as a reference source for labor certification law, explaining various points of law and providing back-up case citations.
• Print: Immigration Law and Procedure: Practice and Strategy. Vol. 13. KF4819 .G6 1966. Reserve.
• Print: Immigration Law Service 2d. Vol. 6. KF4815 .I45 2004. B1.
• DOL Web-site
• Lexis (IMMMIG; IMMBAL)
• Westlaw (FIM-BALCADB)
Foreign Affairs Manual (FAM)
The FAM is a multi-volume text that provides, among other things, the Department of State's regulations and policies. Chapter 7 largely concerns issues relating to citizenship, such as the acquisition and loss of U.S. citizenship. Chapter 9 largely concerns visas.
• Print: Immigration Law and Procedure: Practice and Strategy. Vols. 17, 18 and 19. KF4819 .G6 1966. Reserve. (Portions of chapters 7 & 9)
• Print: Immigration Law Service 2d. Vol. 6. KF4815 .I45 2004. B1. (Portions of chapter 7)
• Department of State Web-site
• Lexis (IMMIG: IMMCIT: Portions of chapter 7 and IMMIG; IMMVSA: Portions of chapter 9)
• Westlaw (FIM-FAM: Portions of chapters 7 and 9 and various appendixes)
Immigration Court Practice Manual
The Immigration Court Practice Manual is intended to provide "uniform procedures, recommendations, and requirements for practice before the Immigration Courts" (March 2008 release from Chief Immigration Judge). The manual is effective July 1, 2008.
USCIS interpretations are documents that clarify the meaning of immigration statutes and regulations, as interpreted by courts.
• Print: Immigration Law and Procedure: Practice and Strategy. Vol. 15. KF4819 .G6 1966. Reserve.
• Lexis (IMMIG; IMMINT)
• Westlaw (FIM-INSINTERP)
The following secondary materials explain various aspects of immigration law and procedure:
Treatises & Loose-leafs
Gallagher, A. Immigration Law Service, 2d. Eagan, MN: Thomson/West, c. 2004-. KF4815 .I45 2004. B1.
• Provides overview of immigration law. Offers numerous appendixes including INA, immigration regulations and select DHS issuances.
• Westlaw (IMMLS2D)
Gordon, C., Mailman, S., and Yale-Loehr, S. Immigration Law and Procedure. New York, NY: LexisNexis Matthew Bender, c. 1966-. KF4819 .G6 1966. Reserve.
• Provides comprehensive coverage of immigration law. Offers wide array of appendixes including official government forms, relevant executive orders, and sample litigation documents such as briefs and affidavits. Reputed to be the leading treatise on immigration law.
• LEXIS (IMMIG; IMMLAW)
Ignatius, S. and Stickney, E. Immigration Law and the Family. Eagan, MN: Thomson/West, c. 1995-. KF4819 .I36 1994. B1.
• Discusses family-based immigration and explains, among other things, how legal residence is established through family relationships. Appendixes include official government forms, sample letters and so on.
• Westlaw (IMLF)
Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild. Immigration Law and Defense. New York, NY: C. Boardman, c. 1987-. KF8925.E4 I46 1987. Reserve.
• Treats issues relating to the representation of aliens. Offers several practice-related appendixes such as sample motions, letters and affidavits.
• Westlaw (IMLD)
Kesselbrenner, D. and Rosenberg, L. Immigration Law and Crimes. New York, NY: National Lawyers Guild, c. 1984-. KF4819 .I472 1984. B1.
• Covers immigration consequences of various crimes. Provides guidance for immigration and criminal attorneys representing aliens.
• Westlaw (IMLC)
Steel, R. Steel on Immigration Law 2d. Eagan, MN: Thomson/West, c. 1992-. KF4819 .S74 1992. B1.
• Provides overview of immigration law.
• Westlaw (STEEL)
Fragomen, A. and Bell, S. Immigration Employment Compliance Handbook. Eagan, MN: Thomson/West, c. 2005. KF4800 .F843. B1.
• Advises on employment-based immigration law. Provides detailed explanation of I-9 requirements. Discusses the process of an administrative proceeding against an employer for violations of immigration law.
• Westlaw (IMECH)
Fragomen, A., Del Rey, A., and Bell, S. H-1B Handbook. Eagan, MN: Thomson/West, c. 2005. KF4819 .I561x. Reserve & B1.
• Explains the H-1B status approval process. H1-B status permits aliens who work "in a specialty occupation" to temporarily work in the U.S.
• Westlaw (H1B)
Fragomen, A., Del Rey, A., and Bell, S. Immigration Procedures Handbook. Eagan, MN: Thomson/West, c. 2004. KF4819 .I484. Reserve & B1.
• Explains processing procedures for immigration petitions, applications and visas.
• Westlaw (IMPH)
Fragomen, A., Del Rey, A., and Bell, S. Labor Certification Handbook. Eagan, MN: Thomson/West, c. 2005. KF4829 .L324. Reserve.
• Advises on the labor certification process. Includes pertinent regulations.
• Westlaw (LABCERT)
Immigration and Nationality Law Handbook. Washington, DC: American Immigration Lawyers Association, c. 1986-. KF4819.A2 .A415. B1.
• Compiles articles on topics in immigration law, many of which provide practical advice for immigration attorneys. Includes articles on conducting initial interviews with clients, representing aliens in removal hearings, preparing clients for immigration-related interviews and so on.
Kurzban, I. Kurzban's Immigration Law Sourcebook. Washington, DC: American Immigration Lawyers Foundation, c. 1990-. KF4819.3 .K87x. Reserve & B1.
• Summarizes immigration law. Considered by many to be the most useful reference resource for immigration law.
Weissbrodt, D. Immigration Law and Procedure in a Nutshell. St. Paul, MN: Thomson/West, c. 2005. KF4819.3 .W4 2005. Circulation Desk & B1.
• Summarizes key concepts in immigration law.
Georgetown Immigration Law Journal. Washington, DC: The Georgetown Immigration Law Journal, c. 1985-. K7.E64. Bound Periodicals.
• Westlaw (GEOILJ: Selected coverage 1989- and full coverage 1994-)
• Lexis (IMMIG-GILAWJ: 1997-)
• Hein (1985-2004)
Immigration and Nationality Law Review. Buffalo, NY: William S. Hein & Co., Inc., c. 1977-. K9 .M54. Bound Periodicals.
• Hein (1986-1990 and 1976-2003)
Westlaw (IM-TP) and Lexis (IMMIG; IMMLR) both offer databases that compile articles concerning immigration from select law reviews, bar journals and other types of publications.
Current Awareness Services
Bender's Immigration Bulletin. New York, NY: LexisNexis Matthew Bender, c. 1985-. KF4815 .I46 1985. B1.
• Reports on developments in immigration law. Offers case summaries, select BIA decisions, reproductions of government documents and immigration-related documents in the Federal Register.
• LEXIS (IMMIG-IMMBUL)
Immigration Briefings. St. Paul, MN: Thomson/West, c.1988-. KF4802 .I463. B1.
• Covers one immigration issue (such as foreign adoptions, Child Citizenship Act and so on) in-depth per monthly issue.
• Westlaw (IMMIGBRIEF)
Interpreter Releases. Eagan, MN: Thomson/West, c. 1935-. JK1751 .C55x. B1.
• Analyzes legislative, administrative and judicial developments in immigration law.
• Westlaw (INTERREL)
Siskind's Immigration Bulletin.
• Provides immigration news. Regular columns include "ABCs of Immigration," legislative update, ask visalaw.com, and government processing times.
• Available free from Visalaw.com, a Web-site maintained by a large immigration law firm. E-mail subscriptions are available.
Westlaw (IM-CURRENT) and Lexis (IMMIG: PUBS and IMMIG;NYTIMM) offer databases that compile recent news about immigration law.
The following immigration-related organizations offer various materials related to immigration:
• The American Immigration Council is a non-profit organization dedicated to "increasing public understanding of immigration law and policy and the value of immigration to American society."
• The web-site offers resources for attorneys (such as a newsletter and practice advisories), for immigrants (such as a discussion of U.S. immigration law, links for information on becoming a citizen and getting a lawyer) and for teachers (such as sample lesson plans and presentations relating to immigration).
•The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) is a professional organization primarily for lawyers who practice and teach immigration law.
• The AILA Web-site offers news on developments in immigration law and legislation, congressional testimony on immigration, issue papers on immigration issues, articles on ethics in practice of immigration law, and so on. Some of the resources on the AILA Web-site are only accessible by AILA members.
• The AILA Web-site also offers an e-mail alert service for immigration news. This service is available for AILA and non-AILA members.
•The Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) is a think tank devoted to researching the impact of immigration on the United States. CIS has a "pro-immigrant, low-immigration vision." (CIS Web-site)
• The CIS Web-site provides select news stories on immigration, congressional testimony on immigration, and articles from the CIS publication The Backgrounder.
• The CIS Web-site offers a daily (CISNEWS) and a weekly e-mail (This Week in Immigration) alert service for immigration news. The e-mail alert services are available free.
• The National Immigration Law Center (NILC) is an organization "dedicated to protecting and promoting the rights of low income immigrants and their families." (NILC Web-site)
• The NILC Web-site includes analysis of proposed immigration legislation, articles on employment and public benefits as they relate to immigrants, and community education materials.
• The National Immigration Forum (NIF) is an immigrants' rights organization that "advocates and builds support for public policies that welcome immigrants and refugees." (NIF Web-site)
• The NIF Web-site offers links to immigration-related news clips, NIF press releases, and so on.
• The National Immigration Project of National Lawyers Guild (NIP) provides "advocacy-oriented legal support on immigrants rights issues." (NIP Web-site)
• The NIP Web-site offers materials for attorneys representing aliens, such as sample briefs, strategies, and other materials.
The following is an immigration-related Web-blog:
Prepared by Melissa J. Bernstein, Intern Spring 2006, & Annmarie J. Zell, Reference Librarian, New York University School of Law Library
This page was updated April 08, 2008