How the Immigration System Works

The United States has long-been a beacon of hope for individuals around the world seeking protection and refuge. Our immigration policies must continue to protect those who need it. Learn more about how America can continue to provide humanitarian protection to those in times of crisis.

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All How the Immigration System Works Content

Publication Date: 
August 2, 2021
This fact sheet from the Council provides an overview of how current immigration law allows certain undocumented immigrants to become Lawful Permanent Residents (LPRs) without first having to leave...
Publication Date: 
July 8, 2021
Current U.S. immigration law provides several paths for foreign workers to enter the United States for employment purposes on a temporary or permanent basis. This fact sheet provides basic...
Publication Date: 
July 18, 2018
This fact sheet provides an overview of how USCIS calculates processing times and the concerns over the accuracy of these estimates.
Publication Date: 
June 11, 2018
Some confusion exists regarding the economic aspects of family-based immigration. To help unpack those aspects, this report focuses on one of them—namely, the earnings of family-based immigrants.
Publication Date: 
November 13, 2017
This fact sheet provides an overview of the diversity visa program, the requirements and security checks currently in place, and demographic information about recipients.
Publication Date: 
March 21, 2017
This fact sheet explains detainers, how they are used by federal and local enforcement, and the impact they have on immigrants.
Publication Date: 
December 14, 2015

Americans pride themselves on belonging to a nation of immigrants. In fact, many Americans celebrate not only the traditions of the United States, but the traditions of the countries from which...

Publication Date: 
June 19, 2013
One of the themes that emerged from the Senate Judiciary Committee mark up of the 2013 Senate immigration bill was the necessity of avoiding the mistakes of the past. In the context of legalization...
Publication Date: 
April 12, 2011
In its second year under the Obama Administration, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS)—which is responsible for the nation’s three immigration agencies (USCIS, CBP, and ICE)—continues to...
Publication Date: 
January 1, 2010
While some characterize our immigration crisis as solely an issue of the 11 to 12 million unauthorized...
February 6, 2016
The statement shares our analysis and research regarding the children and families that have fled Central American violence to the United States.
October 21, 2015
The statement shares our research and analysis regarding the children and families that have fled Central American violence to the United States.
July 21, 2015
The statement highlights that immigrants are less likely to be serious criminals than the native-born and that high rates of immigration are associated with lower rates of violent crimes and property crimes.
July 7, 2015
The statement highlights our revised report, A Guide to Children Arriving at the Border: Laws, Policies and Responses (June 2015), which explains why children are fleeing their homes in Central America, what happens to the children once they are in U.S. custody, and what the government has done in response.
October 26, 2021

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) published new data last week showing that over the past 12 months, the Border Patrol has carried out nearly 1.7 million apprehensions at the southern...

September 14, 2021

The September 11th terrorist attacks not only led to the tragic deaths of 2,977 people, they fundamentally changed the nature of immigration law and policy in the United States. Since 9/11, the U....

August 31, 2021

The Biden administration predicts that it will fail to issue many of the legal permanent resident visas—also known as green cards—allotted this year for immigrants who have been sponsored by a U.S...

May 18, 2021

President Biden revoked a proclamation issued by former President Trump in 2019 that required nearly all prospective immigrants to demonstrate that they would be covered by private health...

March 15, 2021

The Biden administration must improve transparency in the U.S. immigration system. Such efforts go hand in hand with strengthening democratic institutions. Under the Freedom of Information Act (...

January 21, 2021

During his campaign, President Biden promised that immigration reform would be one of his top priorities upon taking office. After unveiling the summary of a sweeping immigration reform bill on...

December 2, 2020

As the Biden-Harris administration prepares to take office, many anxiously await what immigration policies the Trump administration will finalize in the lead up to Inauguration Day in the form of...

November 17, 2020

Lawful permanent residents seeking to become U.S. citizens will now be required to take a more difficult and longer citizenship test. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced...

November 12, 2020

This article is part of the Moving Forward on Immigration series that explores the future of immigration in the aftermath of the 2020 presidential election.  President-elect Joe Biden’s plan on...

October 21, 2020

The application fee to apply for U.S. citizenship was due to rise from $640 to $1170 on October 2. Though the fee hike was temporarily blocked in federal court, this is not the first time U.S....

October 30, 2018
President Donald Trump said yesterday in an interview that he plans to sign an executive order to eliminate birthright citizenship, a principle enshrined in the U.S. Constitution that grants citizenship to any person born within the territory of the United States.
June 12, 2018
Through analysis of data from the decennial census and administrative data from the Immigration and Naturalization Service, this special report examines the earnings gains over time of all immigrants, as well as the earnings gains experienced by family-based immigrants compared to employment-based immigrants.
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.
This lawsuit challenges USCIS' unreasonable delay in processing naturalization applications that were filed in 2020 and has prevented applicants from becoming U.S. citizens.
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...

Publication Date: 
May 5, 2022
The Council submitted comments on USCIS suggested changes to Form G-639 and Instructions. The G-639 Form and Instructions are used to submit FOIA requests to USCIS by mail.

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