Find an Immigration & Naturalization Law Lawyer

Immigration and naturalization law governs the rules of how a person can enter the United States, the length of his or her stay, and the definition of who is an immigrant or a permanent resident. The Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) handles immigration and naturalization matters for foreign nationals who come to the United States. This includes issues surrounding refugees; “non-immigrants” in the country to work temporarily for a stated length of time; and “permanent residents,” who reside here with the possession of a green card. Permanent residents do not have citizens' voting rights but otherwise enjoy most rights and privileges of American citizens.

The body of law is a very complex set of regulations. Since the attacks of September 11, 2001 and the subsequent establishment of Homeland Security, the minutiae of these regulations have been evolving in efforts to provide greater security from terrorists who may attempt to enter the country. The law has also been evolving due to the rise in globalization, creating a workforce that crosses oceanic borders. New limitations are being imposed by Congress with a cap on the number of H-1B visas for highly skilled foreign professionals.

Congress holds most of the authority over immigration laws. Congress passed the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952, and it is still the main immigration law used today. In 1986, Congress passed the Immigration Reform and Control Act in order to control the illegal immigration by denying illegal aliens welfare and being stricter on employers who were found to be hiring illegal aliens as employees.


A new law, the Child Citizenship Act, was signed in 2000 by President Clinton. It permits adopted children and foreign-born children who meet the requirements to automatically acquire U.S. citizenship. Requirements are that at least one of the child's parents is a U.S. citizen by birth (or by naturalization), and the child must be under 18 years of age.


Immigration and naturalization law also governs when and why an individual can be deported and prohibited from entering the United States ever again. Two significant causes for deportation are misrepresenting the truth in order to obtain a visa or committing a criminal act.

Again, this is an area that proves to be worth an investment in legal counsel as opposed to trying to complete immigration petitions and applications without help. An attorney specializing in this area will be able to help clients not only be accepted by the INS but also reduce the costs and time delays associated with completing the application process.

By Kathleen Goolsby           

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