How the Immigration System Works

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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...
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...
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.
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.
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 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 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.
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.
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.
June 5, 2024

On June 4, President Biden issued a sweeping order under section 212(f) of the Immigration and Nationality Act claiming that allows him to “suspend the entry” of most migrants who cross the border...

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...

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