September 01, 2013

Immigration Law 101

Joshua Daley Paulin

Writing this article reminds me of the line from Thomas Bergin’s and Paul Haskell’s Preface to Estates in Land and Future Interests: “‘Concise’ histories have a way of becoming 700-page books.” So I’ll attempt to restrain myself. Every lawyer believes that his area of law is the most arcane, or the most interesting, or some other superlative (hopefully!), and I suppose I’m no different. Immigration law is widely regarded as second only to tax law in its statutory complexity.

U.S. immigration law is a fascinating field that encompasses many different statuses for people from foreign lands and offers the immigration lawyer varied ways of interacting with agencies and processes as foreign citizens navigate their way through the system. The immigration lawyer can expect to deal with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), which are all part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and parts of which formed the old Immigration and Naturalization Service. Some cases involve the U.S. Department of State. For those with interests in litigation, there is the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR), which includes the Immigration Courts and Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) on the administrative side; other matters may take the immigration lawyer through the U.S. District and Appellate Courts.

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