US immigration law can be a daunting topic, especially for the uninitiated. With so many nooks and crannies, you might feel overwhelmed by the thought of delving into immigration law, and that’s okay! We want to help you understand what’s involved with US immigration, so here are three things you didn’t know about US immigration law.
Understanding US Immigration Law
1. There are four government agencies involved:
The Department of State (DOS), headed by the Secretary of State, contains the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration, along with the Bureau of Consular Affairs. These are the people you meet with in a U.S. Embassy abroad.
The Department of Labor (DOL) researches international labor policies, ensures that migrants are paid fare wages, and issues Labor Condition Agreements to employers.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is home to US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the starting point for most immigration petitions. DHS also looks after border security and customs.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) contains the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR), which interprets and administers laws. Formal immigration appeals are taken to this department for review.
2. Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) is the final say in immigration cases and reviews decisions by immigration courts and USCIS.
The BIA is the highest administrative body when it comes to interpreting and applying US immigration law. Cases are not decided in court, but rather on the basis of paper reviews. Sometimes the board will hear oral arguments, but this usually takes place at headquarters. All BIA decisions are binding unless overruled by the Attorney General or a federal court. The board typically deals with cases that have to do with orders of removal or applications for relief from removal.
3. Almost 50% of people who are granted LPR status each year are not new arrivals.
A Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) is anyone who is not a citizen of the United States but is living in the US under legally recognized and lawfully recorded permanent residence as an immigrant. An LPR is also referred to as a “Permanent Resident Alien,” “Resident Alien Permit Holder,” and “Green Card Holder.”
Approximately half of the people who are granted LPR status each year under US immigration law achieve this through an adjustment of status. They may have been working in the US under an employment-based visa category, like an H-1B visa, or studying here. According to data provided by the Department of Homeland Security, 481,948 people granted LPR status in 2011 were new arrivals, compared to 580,092 adjustments of status.