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Immigration Laws

Basic Immigration Laws

Since the first immigration act was passed in the 1950s, immigration law in the US has undergone many important changes and revisions. Changes in immigration law affect employers, visitors, students, business travelers and others seeking to live, work or travel to the US. Contact Scott M. Beller and Associates in Chicago, Illinois for experienced legal representation for all of your immigration legal matters.

Immigration and Nationality Act (INA)

The INA was passed originally in 1952 and codified under Title 8 of the US Code. The act serves as the framework for current immigration law and has been amended many times since its inception. The corresponding federal regulations from the INA are located in Title 8 of the Code of Federal Regulations.

Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA)

The IRCA prohibits employers from knowingly hiring undocumented workers and requires employers to verify each employee's eligibility for employment through an Employment Verification System. This system helps state and federal governments identify aliens who are living in the US unlawfully and those who may be in the US lawfully, but are prohibited from working under the terms of their visas.

Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act

This act was passed in 1996 to improve and strengthen current US immigration law. The act contained many provisions aimed at a number of immigration policy concerns, such as improving border control, creating and increasing civil and criminal penalties for violating immigration laws and improving internal enforcement of immigration laws. The act also significantly revised INA sections on dealing with apprehension and detention of aliens and added sections on removal proceedings and voluntary departures.

Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act

This act added Title V to the INA, "Alien Terrorist Removal Procedures" and defined who was considered a member of a terrorist organization. The act also provided for the denial of asylum to alien terrorists. Title V was significantly amended in 2005.

Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act and Battered Immigrant Women's Act

The Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act was passed in 1994 and amended in 2000 with the passage of the Battered Immigrant Women's Act. These acts in conjunction work to provide protection to spouses and children of US citizens and legal permanent residents who have suffered domestic violence and other forms of extreme cruelty. Under these acts, an abused spouse or child can petition for immediate relative or family-based second-preference status. The acts also provide relief from removal proceedings and adjustment of status for alien spouses and children who have been battered by US spouses and/or parents.

Homeland Security Act

One of the most important and far-reaching outcomes of this 2002 act was the creation of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The DHS was created as an umbrella federal government organization with the mission to coordinate the efforts of US agencies involved in protecting the country from terrorist attacks. With the creation of the DHS, the government agency formally in charge of handling immigration matters, the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), was replaced with two new organizations: the bureau of US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and the Undersecretary of Border and Transportation Security (BTS).

  • The USCIS is charged with improving immigration benefits and decreasing the backlog of immigrant and nonimmigrant applications as well as adjudicating visa petitions, overseeing naturalization petitions and processing asylum and refugee applications.
  • The BTS, on the other hand, is charged with identifying who is entering the country and runs the border control, detention and removal, intelligence, investigations and inspections programs.


Immigration law is an area that has undergone significant changes since the original Immigration and Nationality Act was passed in 1952. It is important to be aware of changes in this area of the law and to understand how these changes can affect you.

For more information, contact Immigration Attorney Scott M. Beller and Associates in Chicago, Illinois to speak with one of our experienced attorneys about your concerns.