Basics of Immigration Law
Immigration is a complex and constantly changing area of law. Nevertheless, you can learn the basics of immigration law by reading this website and following its links to helpful immigration resources. If you find need further help, you can contact an immigration lawyer in Dallas, Houston, Austin, and San Antonio by clicking here.
Where Do I Begin?
You can start by asking, “What is my immigration need?”:
- Am I seeking to bring a relative to the United States?
- Am I a long-term permanent seeking to become a U.S. Citizen?
- Am I seeking a marriage visa?
- Am I seeking asylum, in order to escape persecution?
- Am I or someone I know in removal/deportation proceedings?
Or if you know the topic you’re interested in, click below.
Who’s Who?: Players in the Immigration System
Immigration law is facilitated by a complex web of individuals, offices, agencies, and court officials. Below are some helpful links to help understand the role of different players.
USCIS is an agency within the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees all lawful immigration. Its central role is to process visa applications and grant or deny immigration benefits. The USCIS offices include Field Offices and Asylum Offices.
ICE is an agency within the Department of Homeland Security. It is charged with enforcing over 400 federal statutes related to national security and human rights. Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) is a division of ICE, responsible for deporting removable aliens. (Note: Not all aliens are removable.) The ERO includes officer called Immigration Enforcement Agents, who’s job is to apprehend criminal aliens.
The EOIR is an agency within the Department of Justice (DOJ) which adjudicates immigration cases. Typically, these cases involve deportation and asylum. The EOIR can be viewed as the “judicial branch” of the immigration system. The EOIR has 3 parts: (1) the Office of the Chief Immigration Judge, which manages the nation’s immigration court system; (2) the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA), which reviews decisions by immigration courts; and (3) the Office of the Chief Administrative Hearing Officer, which decides immigration-related employment cases.
Consulates are government representatives assigned to an outside territory, who protect citizens abroad and facilitate immigration by foreign residents to their home country. So, for example, there are several US Consulates in Mexico, who protect US citizens in Mexico, and assist Mexican nationals who wish to immigrate to the United States.
Sources of Immigration Law
Immigration law is based on a hierarchy of sources. The most authoritative are federal statutes, passed directly by Congress. The primary immigration statute is the Immigration and Nationality Act. The Act sets the worldwide level of immigration (i.e., the numbers of visas issued), and describes who qualifies for immigrant and non-immigrant visas. The Act also states the requirements for receiving affirmative or defensive asylum. Finally, the Act outlines “grounds of inadmissibility,” which sometimes bar individuals from immigrating to the United States.
The next most authoritative source of law is Title 8 of the Code of Federal Regulations.
Title 8 interprets and expands on the Immigration and Nationality Act. Among other things, Title 8 provides detailed procedures on how to obtain immigrant and non-immigrant visas. In addition to statutes and regulation, agency policy statements and interpretations are an important source of immigration law.
I accept clients that need representation before the Dallas Immigration Court, the Houston Immigration Court, the San Antonio Immigration Court, the Houston Asylum Office, and the Dallas Field Office. I accept clients from throughout Texas, including Dallas, Austin, Houston, San Antonio, El Paso, and Midland.
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