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Immigration Law: Regulations and Agency Documents

A guide to the major sources of immigration law, including a breakdown of agency courts.

Code of Federal Regulations

Regulations on immigration are located generally in Title 8 of the Code of Federal Regulations. However, regulations affecting immigrants can also be found in Title 20 (Employee Benefits), Title 22 (Foreign Relations), Title 28 (Judicial Administration), Title 29 (Labor), and Title 42 (Public Health).

Agency Policies and Guidance

Because so much of immigration law is guided by agencies, there are documents beyond the Code of Federal Regulations that are valuable for research and practice in immigration law. Manuals and guidance documents specify the mechanisms of immigration administration and enforcement.

Agency: Department of Justice

Executive Office of Immigration Review (EOIR) conducts immigration court proceedings, appellate reviews, and administrative hearings. Department of Justice immigration courts are trial-level courts that do not publish their decisions.

Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) is the section of EOIR that hears appeals from lower immigration courts. Published decisions appear in I&N Dec. and have precedential value; however, most decisions are not published.

The Office of Immigration Litigation (OIL) litigates for the government in federal circuit courts and the U.S. Supreme Court.

Agency: Department of Homeland Security

The office of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) issues visas at the U.S. border. There are no written decisions.

The office of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) grants or denies aliens permission to remain in the country.

The Immigration and Customs Enforcement office (ICE) litigates for the government in the immigration courts.

Agency: Department of State

The U.S. Embassies provide visas to visitors and immigrants. The State Department's visa portal has more information.