How the Immigration System Works

The enforcement of immigration laws is a complex and hotly-debated topic. Learn more about the costs of immigration enforcement and the ways in which the U.S. can enforce our immigration laws humanely and in a manner that ensures due process.

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All How the Immigration System Works Content

Last modified: 
January 19, 2024
Publication Date: 
January 19, 2024
This fact sheet provides an overview of the benefits of obtaining naturalized citizenship in the United States, as well as information about the naturalized population and those who meet the...
Last modified: 
January 15, 2024
Publication Date: 
June 11, 2020
Asylum seekers must navigate a difficult and complex process that can involve multiple government agencies. This fact sheet provides an overview of the asylum system in the United States, including...
Last modified: 
October 31, 2023
Publication Date: 
October 31, 2023
An overview of the Biden administration's parole programs for Cubans, Haitians, Nicaraguans and Venezuelans (CHNV), which admit up to 30,000 people per month with the ability to live and work in the...
Last modified: 
September 14, 2023
Publication Date: 
June 29, 2022
This fact sheet provides an overview of how Temporary Protected Status designations are made, what benefits TPS confers, and how TPS beneficiaries apply for and regularly renew their status.
Last modified: 
January 13, 2023
Publication Date: 
January 13, 2023
This program allows Ukrainians displaced by the Russian invasion of Ukraine to apply to come to the United States through “humanitarian parole.” Ukrainians who are granted humanitarian parole may...
Publication Date: 
December 15, 2021
This fact sheet aims to explain the basics of the federal government funding process, also known as appropriations, and show how it affects the world of immigration and immigration enforcement.
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October 7, 2021
There is no line available for undocumented immigrants and the “regular channels” do not include them.
Publication Date: 
September 28, 2021
This fact sheet provides information on a provision called “registry” that allows certain non-citizens who are long-term residents of the United States, but who are either undocumented or present in...
Publication Date: 
September 14, 2021
U.S. immigration law is very complex, and there is much confusion as to how it works. This fact sheet provides basic information about how the U.S. legal immigration system is designed.
Publication Date: 
August 20, 2021
This fact sheet provides an overview of Documented Dreamers, explains how they can age out of immigration status at 21, and summarizes the current federal legislative proposals to protect them from...
The requested records will shed light on CBP's practices with respect to granting and extending humanitarian parole and the agency's determinations regarding which addresses to include on immigration paperwork.
This lawsuit challenges USCIS' unreasonable delay in processing naturalization applications that were filed in 2020 and has prevented applicants from becoming U.S. citizens.
Publication Date: 
February 12, 2021
The Council submitted this declaration in support of the ACLU's defense of the Biden Administration's moratorium on deportations. This declaration explains how the removal and detention system works.
October 13, 2020
The American Immigration Council, the Immigration Defense Clinic at Colorado Law, and the American Immigration Lawyers Association, submitted a comment in opposition to the Department of Homeland Security proposed rule on the "Collection and Use of Biometrics by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services."
October 6, 2020

This document provides a summary of the Department of Homeland Security's September 25, 2020, Proposed Rule, "...

September 25, 2020

The American Immigration Council and the American Immigration Lawyers Association, through their joint initiative, the Immigration Justice Campaign, submitted this comment in opposition to...

September 15, 2020
This new rule will increase the total number of people who are required to submit biometric data from 3.9 million currently to 6.07 million—an increase of more than 60%.
July 29, 2020

The American Immigration Council submitted a written statement to the House Committee on Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration and Citizenship for a July 29, 2020 hearing on "Oversight of U....

July 16, 2019
The statement highlights the Council’s concerns regarding systemic U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services delays in responding to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests.
December 11, 2018
The American Immigration Council, with the American Immigration Lawyers Association, filed comments because a financial litmus test should never serve as a measure for who we welcome into our country.
Last modified: 
April 17, 2023
Publication Date: 
December 16, 2022
This practice advisory explains 1) the ways to submit a FOIA request for a client’s immigration records, or A-File, 2) provides suggestions for avoiding agency rejections of the requests, and 3) identifies issues related to the Nightingale injunction that class counsel are monitoring.
February 16, 2024

On February 9, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) released data about its progress toward meeting its strategic goals in fiscal year (FY) 2023. For the first time in years, the...

September 28, 2023

A recent Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) decision bars certain recently arrived noncitizens from becoming lawful permanent residents. In Matter of Cabrera-Fernandez, the BIA held that the...

September 28, 2023

After weeks of failed negotiations on spending, Congress has less than a week left to avert a potential government shutdown. Members of the House Republicans’ Freedom Caucus have refused to pass...

September 5, 2023

On August 24, 2023, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced a new update to its policy manual clarifying a previous policy change aimed at expanding green card eligibility...

February 10, 2023

In January, Republicans took control of the House of Representatives. After a lengthy fight over the Speaker of the House resolved, the new majority wasted no time in holding multiple hearings on...

August 10, 2022

The lack of a major overhaul in the United States’ immigration system for roughly thirty years has created an ecosystem where states have attempted to insert their authority over immigration,...

June 29, 2022

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) operates under a flawed funding model. This virtually guarantees that the agency will always be under-funded and under-staffed. As a result, USCIS...

April 22, 2022

The Biden administration failed to issue many of the immigrant visas—more commonly known as green cards—that were allotted last year for immigrants who have been sponsored by a U.S. employer or...

February 22, 2022

The Canadian government released its 2022-2024 immigration targets earlier this week. Should it reach these targets, the number of new immigrants entering Canada would reach levels not seen in...

February 2, 2022

Some media outlets have reached a fever pitch over what they have deemed President Biden’s “secret flights of migrants.” They claim that the Biden administration is covertly flying migrants into...

October 13, 2023
A federal court in California denied a preliminary injunction in a legal challenge to the Biden administration’s policy of turning back asylum seekers who request protection without first obtaining an appointment via the government’s CBP One smartphone app.
November 29, 2022
In response to the Supreme Court of the United States hearing oral arguments in the case, U.S. v. Texas -- a dispute over the Biden Administration’s authority to set immigration policy, the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) and the American Immigration Council (AIC) have issued the following statement.
May 25, 2022
Thirteen people waiting to become U.S. citizens filed a lawsuit challenging U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ unreasonable delays and failure to process U.S. naturalization applications filed in 2020.
October 22, 2020
The proposal would negatively impact American colleges and universities and foreign students seeking a higher education degree in the United States and have long-term effects for the legal immigration system.
July 31, 2020
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services—the government agency that administers the country's legal immigration system—is expected to announce Monday major fee hikes for many immigration-related applications and petitions. The increased fees will impact people applying for U.S. citizenship and asylum, as well as American businesses hiring or retaining employees vital to our country’s recovery from a global health and economic crisis.
May 27, 2020
The American Immigration Council's latest report examines major changes to the U.S. immigration system in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and the unique challenges the pandemic has created for noncitizens and government agencies.
April 22, 2020
President Donald Trump signed an executive order to temporarily suspend immigration to the United States. The order applies to many individuals currently outside the United States who do not yet have immigrant (permanent) visas.
August 12, 2019
The Department of Homeland Security announced a new regulation that redefines who can be considered a “public charge” under immigration law. The new regulation will likely have a chilling effect on America’s family-based immigration system, drastically limiting who will be permitted into the United States.
November 21, 2018
The American Immigration Council announced today that it will focus on the critical need for access to an attorney when navigating the immigration system during its #GivingTuesday and year-end fundraising campaign starting November 27.
November 8, 2018
The Trump administration revealed today a new interim final regulation that restricts access to asylum at the border, causing chaos and uncertainty for many seeking protection.
Last modified: 
January 19, 2024
Publication Date: 
January 19, 2024
This fact sheet provides an overview of the benefits of obtaining naturalized citizenship in the United States, as well as information about the naturalized population and those who meet the...
Last modified: 
January 15, 2024
Publication Date: 
June 11, 2020
Asylum seekers must navigate a difficult and complex process that can involve multiple government agencies. This fact sheet provides an overview of the asylum system in the United States, including...
Last modified: 
November 7, 2023
Publication Date: 
November 7, 2023
The American Immigration Council and the American Immigration Lawyers Association submitted this comment in support of the proposed rule, "Appellate Procedures and Decisional Finality in Immigration...
Last modified: 
October 31, 2023
Publication Date: 
October 31, 2023
An overview of the Biden administration's parole programs for Cubans, Haitians, Nicaraguans and Venezuelans (CHNV), which admit up to 30,000 people per month with the ability to live and work in the...
October 13, 2023
A federal court in California denied a preliminary injunction in a legal challenge to the Biden administration’s policy of turning back asylum seekers who request protection without first obtaining an appointment via the government’s CBP One smartphone app.
Last modified: 
September 14, 2023
Publication Date: 
June 29, 2022
This fact sheet provides an overview of how Temporary Protected Status designations are made, what benefits TPS confers, and how TPS beneficiaries apply for and regularly renew their status.
Last modified: 
April 17, 2023
Publication Date: 
December 16, 2022
This practice advisory explains 1) the ways to submit a FOIA request for a client’s immigration records, or A-File, 2) provides suggestions for avoiding agency rejections of the requests, and 3) identifies issues related to the Nightingale injunction that class counsel are monitoring.
Last modified: 
January 13, 2023
Publication Date: 
January 13, 2023
This program allows Ukrainians displaced by the Russian invasion of Ukraine to apply to come to the United States through “humanitarian parole.” Ukrainians who are granted humanitarian parole may...
November 29, 2022
In response to the Supreme Court of the United States hearing oral arguments in the case, U.S. v. Texas -- a dispute over the Biden Administration’s authority to set immigration policy, the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) and the American Immigration Council (AIC) have issued the following statement.
The requested records will shed light on CBP's practices with respect to granting and extending humanitarian parole and the agency's determinations regarding which addresses to include on immigration paperwork.

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