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Zimmerman's Research Guide



The main U.S. agency regulating immigration is the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), a bureau of the Department of Homeland Security. Useful Internet sites include the USCIS Web site, the EOIR Virtual Law Library and the Tarleton Law Library's Immigration Law Research Guide. Leading treatises on immigration law include the Immigration Law Sourcebook (American Immigration Council) by Ira J. Kurzban and the Immigration Procedures Handbook (West) by Austin T. Fragomen. For more treatises, see the Immigration Law Treatises of the Georgetown Law Library's Treatise Finder.

Cases: Immigration cases are handled by the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR), a division of the Department of Justice. The EOIR includes the Immigration Court and the Board of Immigration Appeals, as well as a network of Administrative Law Judges who hold administrative hearings.

The Immigration Court hears removal cases, where the judge decides "whether an individual from a foreign country (an alien) should be allowed to enter or remain in the United States or should be removed." Pactice and procedure is explained the Immigration Court Practice Manual. To get an Immigration Court decision, you generally have to file a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request.

Immigration Court decisions can be appealed to the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA). See "Board of Immigration Appeals."

Detention: The Detainee Locator posted by U.S. Immigration and customs let you look up whether (and, if so, where) an immigrant is being held in a U.S. detention center.

Education: It is sometimes necessary to show that a particular individual's foreign education is equivalent to a U.S. degree. This is discussed in AILA's Focus on EB-2 and EB-3 Degree Equivalency by Ronald Wada. The USCIS-authorized database used to describe foreign education credentials is AACRAO Edge. You can find information on using the Edge database in Chapter 2 of the 2012 supplement to AILA's Focus on EB-2 and EB-3 Degree Equivalency and in the article Practice Tips on Accessing and Interpreting the EDGE Database.

Forms: Most immigration forms can be downloaded from the USCIS Forms page.

Note: A few immigration forms are reprinted in immigration treatises, such as Fragomen's Immigration Procedures Handbook and his 3-volume looseleaf. If you use these, be sure you have both sides of the form and that the form is on the right color paper.

Immigration & naturalization records: You can get someone's immigration and/or naturalization records by filing a Freedom of Information/Privacy Act Request on Form G-639 with the USCIS. The USCIS post information on How to File a FOIA/PA Request.

Note: Old "naturalization files" are kept by the National Archives and Records Administration in Washington, D.C.

Immigration and Naturalization Service: The predecessor to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) was the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS). The duties of the INS were transferred to the USCIS by the National Strategy for Homeland Security and the Homeland Security Act of 2002.

Labor Certification: is the process of proving that no qualified U.S. workers are available for a position so that an employer can get approval to hire a particular foreign worker on a full-time basis. The determination is made by the Department of Labor's Office of Foreign Labor Certification (OFLC). The DOL posts a Labor Certification Registry that lists all certifications issued since April 15, 2009.

Labor certification laws, regulations, guidance and ALJ decisions are posted in the Department of Labor Office of Administrative Law Judge Immigration Collection.

If an application for alien labor certification is denied by the Certifying Officer, the denial can be appeled to the Board of Alien Labor Certification Appeals (BALCA) Many BALCA decisions are included in the DOL ALJ Immigration Collection. They are also searchable on Lexis and Westlaw from 1997 to the present (IMMIG;BALCA), on AILA Link from 2007 to the present and, for members, on AILA InfoNet from 1993 to the present.

The Immigration Labor Certification Reporter (also written: Immigration--Labor Certification Reporter) published ALJ Decisions and Orders as well as Court Opinions from 1981 to 1985. It was published by Matthew Bender and cited as ILCR or I.L.C.R. Back issues are available at the Library of Congress and the Los Angeles County Law Library, among other places.

Treatises: Core immigration treatise include Fragomen's Labor Certification Handbook (Thomson/West), the H1-B Handbook (Thomson/West) and Kurzban's Immigration Law Sourcebook (American Immigration Lawyers Association). For a longer list, see Georgetown Law's list of Immigration Law Treatises and/or the Legal Information Buyer's Guide & Reference Manual (New England LawPress) by Ken Svengalis.

See Also
Board of Immigration Appeals
United States Department of Justice

For comments, questions and suggestions, email the author
Copyright 2015 Andrew Zimmerman