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Navigating the Code – an introduction to the express law on immigration

The Immigration and Nationality Act

Navigating the Code – an introduction to the express law on immigration

INA Bill Signing 1965

The Immigration and Nationality Act (the “INA”) is a statutory plan (grouping of laws) that, once given the ok by both houses of the U.S. Legislature and accepted by the President, become THE LAW. This particular grouping of laws relates to immigration and the rules that all people wishing to move in and out of the U.S. must abide.

In order to organize this grouping of immigration laws, the Legislature divided the INA into 5 major sections, known as Titles I through V. Within these 5 Titles are sections of law, numbered 101 (starting in Title I) through 507 (ending in Title V). The bulk of the laws are found in Title II, which details immigration as a whole. Title I provides an introduction to the laws, Title III details citizenship and naturalization, Title IV details procedures for refugees, and Title V details removal.

Title I – Introduction to the INA. Title I, sections 101-106, deals with the general introduction to and set-up of the rest of the INA. Title I holds the definitions of words as they will be used through sections 101-507, applicability of the whole grouping of laws, and some of the powers and duties of different federal actors in the immigration scheme (including the Attorney General, the Commissioner, the Secretary of State, and  internal security officers). It is a good idea to browse through Title I to get an idea of what is to follow in the INA, and to familiarize yourself with the terms and players.

Title II – Immigration. Title II, sections 201-295, is much larger than Title I, and gets to the meat of what immigration is, the major categories of people trying to move in and out of the U.S. (immigrants and nonimmigrants), and the system that the U.S. as a country is presently using to control and facilitate this movement of people. Title II is divided into 9 Chapters in order to further assist organization of material. Chapter 1 details the U.S. Selection System; Chapter 2 details the Qualifications for Admission of Aliens and Travel Control of Citizens and Aliens; Chapter 3 details the Issuance of Entry Documents; Chapter 4 details the Inspection, Apprehension, Examination, Exclusion, and Removal procedures; Chapter 5 details the Adjustment of Status procedure; Chapter 6 details the Special Provisions Relating to Alien Crewmen (those working for the airlines who constantly enter and leave the U.S.); Chapter 7 details the Registration of Aliens; Chapter 8 details the General Penalty Provisions; and Chapter 9 details Miscellaneous issues, including fees, expenses, legal standards, and other random issues of immigration.

By looking at just the above described Chapters of Title II, one can get a general sense of what is involved in immigration in the U.S. The approach is very common-sense and contains all that one would imagine is needed to regulate the flow of people in and out of a country. To begin, the U.S. created a system to determine who can and cannot enter and leave the U.S. This system needed a series of qualifications to determine who can come in and out, documents showing such permissions or denials, and registrations keeping track of all such permissions and denials. Some people were not voluntarily abiding by this system of qualifications, documents, and registrations, so the U.S. created enforcement procedures, such as inspection, examination, and removal, as well as further penalties for those breaking the rules. Once inside the U.S., some people changed their mind as to their long term goals with the U.S., and therefore needed to change their permission status. Some people came in and out of the U.S. so frequently and quickly that the regular system was not useful (airline crew). Then, as always, there were a bunch of random details that did not fit neatly within the above described sections. The U.S. Legislature wrote down their ideas on how to manage the above issues, reflecting on past experiences and law-making, and created the INA Title II.

Title III: Naturalization and Citizenship. Title III, sections 301-361, deals with a very similar but distinct part of the process of moving into a country – nationality. Nationality is more than just moving into a new country or region. It is the status of belonging to a particular nation by origin, birth, or naturalization. Naturalization is the process of becoming a citizen of the U.S., rather than simply a permanent resident. Title III is divided into 4 Chapters in order to assist organization of the naturalization material. Chapter 1 details Nationality by Birth and by Collective Naturalization; Chapter 2 details Nationality through Naturalization; Chapter 3 details Loss of Nationality; and Chapter 4 details Miscellaneous provisions. Like Title II, Title III is a common-sense approach to citizenship, wherein a person can be born in a country, swear allegiance to and be accepted as a citizen of a country, and lose recognition of such belonging to a country.

Title IV – Refugees. Title IV, sections 401-414, is a brief piece on the resettlement of refugees. Title IV explores the Office of Refugee Resettlement, programs to assist refugees, and provision of appropriations for the same.

Title V – Removal. Title V, sections 501-507, is another brief piece on removal proceedings from the U.S. Title V details the establishment of the removal court, its hearing and appeals procedures, and the ultimate custody and release procedures thereafter.

As one can see, the INA is an attempt by U.S. lawmakers to provide a comprehensive grouping of laws that details most of the events, procedures, and problems that become at issue when people attempt to move in and out of a country. Becoming familiar with the general structure and core of the INA is a great way to start to familiarize yourself with immigration law in the U.S.

For more information on each step or help in preparing a nonimmigrant visa package, contact Miami International Attorneys, P.L. at abernhard@miamivisahelp.com or visit MIA’s website at www.miamivisahelp.com for visa help in the Miami area.

Good Luck!


Miami International Attorneys, P.L.

About Miami International Attorneys, P.L.

Miami International Attorney


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  1. Pingback: Where do nonimmigrant visas get their names? « Miami Visa Help by Miami International Attorneys - May 15, 2012

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Visas – Info on Each Visa Available

Andrew John Bernhard, Esq.

Welcome to MiamiVisaHelp.com’s Blog!

Welcome to MiamiVisaHelp.com’s law blog … discussing everything visa from the perspective of those that have a need, desire, or tendency to move from country to country for the purpose of work, survival, education, living, play, and everything in between. Please feel free to send Andrew John Bernhard, Esq. a message! We are always trying to enhance your experience, and help all of us movers, migrators, immigrants, ex-pats and travelers have an easier, happier, and more satisfying experience in the often confusing world of U.S. Immigration. Please feel free to visit our friends at USImmigrationMiami.wordpress.com and TheMitochondrialMigrator.wordpress.com to see more from similar minded people like yourself! Most of all…ENJOY! - Andrew John Bernhard, Esq.

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