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How the Immigration and Nationality Act Works in the U.S.

The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) is a fundamental law of American immigration policies. It details the process of acquiring a U.S. visaadjustment of immigration status, and circumstances that lead to the loss of that status. The law created a significant shift in immigration protocols and influenced the new policies for the influx of migrants.

In particular, the law abolished the visa quota system previously in place. It opened the doors of America to more immigrants. It eliminated the restrictions on visas based on national origin. Overall, INA transformed the demography of America. The Act initiated a new face of the immigration system.

What Is the Immigration and Nationality Act?

The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) is also called Title 8 of the United States Code (U.S.C). It includes provisions that govern matters related to immigration status and U.S. citizenship. It also governs the number of immigrants allowed to enter the country each fiscal year.

Moreover, INA and other federal laws provide various qualifications and requirements for entering the United States. For instance, immediate relatives of U.S. citizens and permanent residents are given particular preferences compared to others. Meanwhile, employment-based immigration often requires a petition filed by the U.S. employer on behalf of the employee.

For those seeking to live in the U.S., the next step is to secure a lawful permanent residency (LPR) or U.S. citizenship. Alternatively, those wishing to visit the U.S. temporarily can opt for a temporary nonimmigrant visa. There are also provisions to address individuals seeking refuge in the United States.

INA is a wide-encompassing law. Together with other federal regulations, it addresses various aspects of immigration.

How the Immigration and Nationality Act Changed Over Time

INA is the law that dismantled the earlier immigration system in the United States. Congress first enacted it with the approval of the Senate in 1952, and since then it has undergone a series of changes.

Before its passage, America had a stringent rule on immigration, placing quotas based on national origins. The previous laws had a preference for people from European countries while tightly restricting immigrants from Africa, Asia, and the Caribbean. INA eliminated these quotas by moving to a preference system.

In the new immigration system, the U.S. prioritized family reunification. Noncitizen family members of U.S. citizens and LPRs were given particular importance. The law also opened the doors to individuals with advanced education or skills through employment or special immigrant visas.

In 1964, during the State of the Union Address by U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson, he declared his approach to the immigration policy. He emphasized how the United States is a nation built by immigrants. The country can ask about what a migrant can contribute to the country, but they should not question in which country they were born.

During its legislation, INA gained support from the Republican and Democratic parties. The overwhelming support reflects the shared commitment of the country to ending the discriminatory principles of immigration. These changes contributed to the demographic landscape of the United States.

The Impact of INA to Immigration Policies Today

INA affects immigration policies today by providing an essential legal framework for handling migrants. It provided definitions of the different types of migrants, eligibility for U.S. visas, and grounds for ineligibility. It highlights the rights and obligations of immigrants in the United States.

The Act provided a path for them to stay lawfully in the country. This is often made possible by applying for permanent residency or naturalization.

As the country continuously responds to immigration challenges, INA has undergone several amendments. Included among these challenges are issues with family reunification and humanitarian relief. The Act also covers economic development, border control at ports of entry, and national security.

How INA Affects Nonimmigrants and Refugees

INA governs the admission of foreign nationals, visa issuance, and their stay in the United States. The law establishes visa categories for different purposes. For instance, nonimmigrants are foreign nationals admitted to the country for a temporary period. It is often issued for a specific purpose, such as tourism, education, business, or work. Refugees or asylees are individuals who are unable or unwilling to return to their home country due to fear of persecution.

INA gave the U.S. President the power to determine the numerical limit of refugees admitted into the U.S. every year. The Department of State (DOS) processes and selects refugees outside the United States. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) determines their eligibility and conducts interviews and security checks.

Seek Legal Advice From an Immigration Law Attorney

Navigating the complexities of the U.S. immigration laws can be daunting. Although the Immigration Act covers various issues, understanding the intricacies can be challenging. When going through this journey, it is essential to remember that you can seek legal help.

There are immigration law attorneys who can assist you with understanding the intricate rules of INA. They can also give you legal advice whether you are looking at an adjustment of status or have concerns about deportation.

FindLaw has a directory of immigration attorneys in every city.

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